It was a hard-fought, physical battle for both rival teams.
For two periods, it was an equal fight, but the Norwich Cadets ultimately won the last period – and won the game.
After Norwich goaltender Braeden Ostepchuk came up with a miraculous pad save on Castleton’s Jimmy Burns’ open look at the net on a Spartan power play, Cadet freshman Carter Cowlthorp responded with a huge goal 7:53 into the third period to break the 0-0 tie.
That goal would end up being the game winner.
The final score turned out to be 2-0 in Norwich’s favor and the second goal came from Jordan Hall at 18:23, an empty netter shot from nearly half-ice while Castleton was trying to work with a six-on-four power play.
Ostepchuk played a masterful game in the net, improving his record to 3-3-1 and sending away all 29 shots sent at him by the Spartan offense, earning him NEHC Goalie of the Week.
It was his 12th shutout of his career.
In addition to the 29 shots on goal, including many great opportunities in the final period, the Spartans also had seven power plays in the game.
“We have to capitalize on our power play, and that’s always been a focus point for us. Two five on threes, we have to bury one of them,” said Spartans head coach Bill Silengo. “We’ve just got to continue to improve in our consistency. I think tonight was our first game that we played 60 minutes, so it was the best game of the year.”
Kurt Johnson, captain of the Spartans, agreed and said the outcome could have easily been different.
“A couple bounces didn’t go our way tonight,” he said, while also praising his teammates for playing hard the entire game. “A couple bounces go our way, I think it’s a different game.”
Both Silengo and Johnson have a point. The Spartans outshot the Cadets 15-4 in the third period as multiple Castleton players came close on burying the puck. But it was Ostepchuk who came out on top.
Cowlthorp and Hall each got their seventh point and third goal of the season in the game, ranking second on the Cadets in each category. Connor Evangelista and Alec Brandrup lead their team in shots on goal against Castleton with three a piece, and David Robertson picked up and assist on Cowlthorp’s goal. Evangelista also picked up a game-high 12 penalty minutes.
Spartan freshman Matt Bloomer led the game with five shots on goal. Troy Taylor added four shots on goal, and just missed a fifth as his third period shot on the power play nicked the crossbar.
Wyatt Pickrell played strong in the net, picking up 23 saves on 25 shots. He made a giant pad save at the end of the second period against Norwich’s Kevin Salvucci to keep the game even, but ended up dropping his record to 1-4-0 after the loss.
Norwich improved to 6-3-1 (5-1-1 in NEHC Conference), while Castleton now stands at 4-6-0 (1-6-0 in NEHC Conference). The loss snapped a three-game win streak for a Spartan team that was coming off a WSYB/Catamount Radio Invitational Tournament Championship. Coach Silengo wants to build off of the loss.
“Your momentum is how you play, I thought we had a good game so we just have to keep it going here.”