Men’s hockey off to Good Start; Women Hit Bumpy Road

With only two seniors and five juniors, Castleton’s men’s hockey team started their season off on the right foot.The Spartan men opened their season with a 2-2 tie with St. Anselm. The conference game remained scoreless until Castleton’s Brandon Heck scored at 1:23 in the third period. The Hawks answered 14 seconds later off a shot from Chris O’Brien and would then take a 2-1 lead. The Spartans forced the game into overtime after a goal by Jared Lavender. Goalie Jeff Swanson made 36 saves to help the team start its season at 0-0-1.

Despite a second game shutout at the hands of New England College, coach Alex Todd’s squad then went on to rack up three straight wins.

Tied at 1-1 at the end of the first period, both Plymouth State and Castleton remained scoreless in the second period. The Spartans than took the lead, but following penalties that left Castleton down two men, the game was once again tied. Castleton came back to win 3-2 on a game-winning goal by Steve Culbertson.

In their home opener, the Spartans defeated Becker 6-2 and in their third consecutive win, topped No. 15 ranked Colby 3-1. In their first conference game, Swanson stopped 34 shots while Ryan Bartlett, Ross Carmichael and Steve Smiddy each had a goal.

A day later, the Spartans had another chance to upset a Division III nationally ranked squad. Facing off against No. 11 Bowdoin, the squad tied the game at 1-1 in the second period and took a one goal lead in the third with five minutes left. With just under three minutes remaining, Castleton committed two penalties leading to a 6-on-3 power-play and a goal by the Bears with 20 seconds left. Swanson made 29 saves for the Spartans to help keep Bowdoin at bay and keep the game tied 2-2 after overtime.

The Spartans head into a home match-up against Cortland State Friday with a 1-1-2 ECAC East record and 3-1-2 overall record.

Women’s Hockey

Castleton’s women’s hockey team has faced not only tough opponents, but a tough adjustment within the team as well. After coaching the first five games this season, coach Craig Paiement resigned due to health reasons.

“Knowing that a friend and someone you respect is going through a tough time with their health is not easy, and I know that it has affected everyone involved with our team,” said Paiement’s successor, coach David Stockdale. “I’m very proud of the effort they have consistently shown under such difficult circumstances.”

After defeating M.I.T. six days earlier, the Spartans fell 4-2 to the Engineers in a non-conference game. Despite tying the game at 2-2 in the third period, M.I.T. answered with two more goals on a 5-on-4 power-play and an open net.

The Spartans then went scoreless against Holy Cross before bouncing back to shut out Plymouth State 5-0 for their first win under Stockdale. Katelyn Greene led the squad with two goals and one assist. Vanessa Carter made 19 saves.

Stockdale’s team dropped a conference match-up against St. Michael’s after holding a 4-3 advantage until nine minutes remained. The Purple Knights’ Amy Schoon tied the game on a power play and Melissa Gagne scored the game winner with just over a minute remaining.

In play this past weekend, the Spartans fell to UMass Boston 8-1 and Southern Maine 5-4. Behind 7-0, Castleton was unable to score against UMass Boston until the middle of the third period, too late in the match to come back. Maryanne Diehm scored the lone goal.

After breaking a 2-2 tie in the final period on goals from Adrianna Riggio and Steph Purinton, the Spartans took a 4-2 lead over USM. However, Castleton couldn’t hold on as the Huskies rallied for three goals in the last eight minutes of play. USM’s Caitlin Tassone scored the game-winning goal with 26 seconds left.

“We talked to our kids about finishing games strong and putting teams away when you get them down,” Stockdale said. “Southern Maine has an experienced team with 7 or 8 seniors, and we have 11 freshmen and no seniors, so it’s all part of the learning process for us. As much as it hurts to lose a game like that, we have to remember how bad it felt and use it as an opportunity to grow as a team, so that it doesn’t happen again.”

With the loss to USM, the Spartans fell to 2-7 overall and 0-7 in the ECAC East League.

“We are making an effort to step up our aggressiveness in all three zones, and we have to cut down on the number of penalties we are taking. Shorthanded situations have cost us in a number of games this season,” Stockdale said.

The team is back in action this weekend with a two-game series at R.I.T and finishes the semester on the road against Amherst Dec. 13.

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