November 21 marks the beginning of the Castleton State College men’s ice hockey season as the Spartans travel to Henniker, New Hampshire, to take on New England College. The Spartans are looking to redeem themselves after a disappointing loss in the ECAC East playoffs last winter. Castleton had finished its regular season with a ten game unbeaten streak and finished third in the league, which won them home ice for the tournament. Despite the sold out crowd of Spartan fans, Castleton was defeated by Salem State, a team that Castleton had defeated earlier in the season.
“They were a team we could have and should have beat,” said head coach Alex Todd.
But Todd is optimistic that the end result of this season will favor the Spartans. The team is loaded with returning players as well as eight new players. The group of 28 is led by 11 seniors, including captain Jared Lavender and assistant captains Brandon Heck and Ryan Bartlett. Junior Evan Romeo rounds out the assistant captain trio. Todd said that this particular group of seniors is a special one. Coach Todd started his career with the Spartans with this group of seniors.
“This is the first season that everyone will come in with the same idea of what is expected of them from me,” said Todd.
The Spartans traveled to Europe to play four games in Germany during their preseason. Todd said that though European hockey rules differ from those that the team is used to playing in the U.S., the team played extremely well. Their 3-1 record while in Europe proved that.
Todd and his team hope that their success crossed the Atlantic with them and will carry over into their season opener at NEC. The Spartans have never played the Pilgrims but expect a tough game. Todd said that New England graduated a lot of its offense, but its defense is experienced and its goalie is strong.
“It’s going to be our job to penetrate the defense and pressure their goalie,” said Todd.
The Spartans believe that this season will be a successful one, but they are aware that success will not come easy with a tougher schedule than in previous years.
“There are no guaranteed wins, no easy games,” said Todd. “You almost have to be perfect if you want to make it all the way.