Number one seed and rival Norwich was out of the way. Frustrated Cadet fans couldn’t believe the 4-1 upset by Babson, the sixth seed. Now in the Spartans way of facing off with the Beavers was New England College.But the result left Castleton just as upset.
In Saturday’s semifinal match-up, the Pilgrims eliminated the Spartans from the ECAC East tournament with a 3-2 win. One year after a 4-19-3 season, Coach Alex Todd’s squad ended its impressive turnaround season at 17-6-4.
With high hopes, a roar of cheers, whistles and cow bells from students, faculty, and fans alike welcomed the Spartans on to the ice the first time and every time after. Dominating the beginning of the first period, Castleton started the scoring at 11:30 with a goal by Jared Lavender off goalie Jeff Swanson’s pass.
The celebration didn’t last long though. New England came back 32 seconds later to tie it off of Jeff Armando’s shot.
But the sound of the goal buzzer 23 seconds later sent the Spartans into another uproar. Steve Culbertson redirected a shot by Matthew Link and Castleton went into the second period ahead 2-1.
The Pilgrims were determined though, and their two goals in the second were all it took. New England dominated in shots, out shooting Castleton 13-8, which led to an early tying goal by Jon Globke. Mike Mullen’s winning shot came late in the period on a power play.
The third period was filled with “Ohs” from Spartan fans, who endured seeing several scoring chances miss the back of the net. After goalie Ron Baia got tangled up with players halfway into the period, Castleton was unable to cash in on the open net.
Fan support was strong as the Spartans began to show the urgency of a score. Clapping and feet pounding accompanied the shouts of “Let’s go Spartans.”
But, Baia continued to hold off Castleton, which had 12 shots, stopping Brandon Heck and Joe Huchko after Todd pulled Swanson in the last two minutes.
Baia ended the night with 30 saves for the Pilgrims while Swanson made 23.
With only three graduating, the Spartans will look to once again be a strong team in the conference next year.