If a turn-around is what the men’s ice hockey team was looking for at the beginning of this season, that is exactly what they got.Before the puck was dropped at beginning of last season, the Castleton State Spartans had recorded a 0-44 record, in two dismal seasons.
In 2005, former head coach Gregg Stone was replaced by Alex Todd and the team picked up its first several wins knocking off Plymouth State University, Franklin Pierce College, Connecticut College, and Western New England College. The squad also picked up several ties giving them an overall record of 4-19-3 and a first round ECAC loss to Babson College
Todd said he felt the team was very competitive last year and anyone who watched hockey should or knows hockey would agree with that.
The Spartans have put a buzz around campus this year after skating to a 13-3-3 record, as well as being ranked 11th nationally.
In the conference the Spartans have a stunning 8-2-3 record. The team has been lead by Brandon Heck who has 12 goals and 15 assists, along side Steve Culbertson who has 6 goals and 6 assists on the season.
“We knew the success would come because we never backed off from the hard work,” said Todd.
There is no question that the Spartans have vastly improved but, Todd doesn’t credit any of this to luck or something that was owed to them.
“I feel the success of the team this year is a result of the school’s commitment to hockey, and the player’s commitment to hard work as both students and athletes, said Todd, who is in his second year as the Spartans head coach.
The Rutland Field house is filled to capacity every home game with students, teachers, parents and Rutland locals who have come out of the woodwork to see this young exciting team that leaped on the hockey map.
“I feel like I am at a Bruins game, because of how loud it is,” said Ben Killary as the stands at the field house shook behind him like a twig in a tornado.
Killary, a sophomore at Castleton, and a Rutland native jokingly said he didn’t even know this many people lived in Rutland.
The best news for the Spartans may be that the team will only be graduating two seniors and everyone else will be back for next year’s team.
“I can only hope the success from this years team will be instilled into next years team,” said Todd.
Currently the Spartans are on an eight-game winning streak that has included wins over teams such as Skidmore, Tufts, Potsdam State, and Amherst.
“All the recent success is because of the hard work and time we have all put into the program,” said senior captain Joe Huchko.
The Spartans will look for their first ever ECAC win on Feb. 2 when they take on Southern Maine.
“We just have to take this thing one game at a time,” said Huchko.