Over the years, Castleton and Norwich have had a huge rivalry (between the two schools) in athletics.
But most years when the Cadets and Spartans face off on the ice, it has usually a blowout with Castleton getting the beating from the Cadets.
But the recent games between these two teams were different and much more evenly played – and that showed up on the scoreboard for both the men and women.
The men played the Cadets back to back last weekend, dropping Friday’s match 4-2 in Norwich and then suffered a gut-wrenching 6-5 loss the next night at home.
On Saturday night, the men took a 3-2 lead into the second period, despite being outshot 13-6. As the teams exchanged goals in the second, the Spartans still had the lead heading into the third and final period.
In the final 10 minutes of the third period, however, the Cadets came alive and put up three goals, including two of those three coming just 17 seconds apart. With the Spartans out of a playoff spot with a 3-14-4 record overall (1-11-2 in conference play), they can use these games as a confidence booster for their final four games of the season.
The women’s team, on the other hand, is currently in third place and is likely to be making the playoffs come late February. The first matchup between the Cadets and Spartans found the Spartans taking an 8-0 loss in Norwich on Nov. 17, just the three games into the season.
The second matchup fell on the same night as Pink the Rink and the Spartans made a dramatic turnaround with the game ending in a 3-3 tie.
Along with Pink the Rink, the other big headline of the week for the Spartans was from goaltender Rylie Willis. Willis started all three games for the Spartans going 2-0-1 making 53 saves in the wins and another 45 saves against Norwich. When asked what went right for the team in the past week Willis said: “We forced teams to play Castleton hockey.”
The women’s team went on to win their next two games, defeating Umass Boston 2-1 and Southern Maine 3-2.
They will return to the ice Friday Feb. 8. to take on Johnson & Wales (RI).