Women’s hockey hopes to get wins in new year

The Castleton Spartans women’s hockey team split a pair of games in most recent play, bringing the program to a fantastic 6-3-1 start. The first game was a 1-0 victory over New England College Friday afternoon at home. The win came on a late goal in the third.
Spartan goalie Paula Stephens was lights out and earned her third shutout of the season and had a total of 17 saves in the game while forward Anna Daniels scored her team-leading seventh goal of the season.
The Spartans got off to a hot start, peppering shots on the Pilgrims goal. Midway through the first period the Spartans gained a two-man advantage on a 5-on-3 power play. The Spartans were unable to break through and despite outshooting the Pilgrims 12-7 in the first period; the Spartans came away empty and the score stood at 0-0 after the first.
Castleton dominated the game, applying constant pressure on the Pilgrims. The Spartans held their opponents without a shot on goal for the first 12 minutes of the second period, outshooting them again 18-6 in the second, but still couldn’t slip one by the Pilgrim goalie Laura Hopps.
Finally at the 14-minute mark of the third period the Spartans were able to get on the board. Anna Daniels stole an errant pass and brought it in to the offensive zone. She dished it off to Nicoline Jensen, who drew the NEC defenders and gave it back to Daniels for the score on the backhand. The Spartans maintained the lead for the rest of the game and came away with the win.
“Anytime we put Paula in net, we have a great chance to win. Good goalkeeping makes the game easier for the rest of the team,” Castleton coach Bill Bowes said after the game.
The Spartans suffered a tough 3-0 loss the next day to a strong Middlebury squad. Despite Stephens 34 saves, the Spartans came up empty.
The Panthers struck early in the first period, when Anna Van Kula netted a goal under the pads of a sprawling Stephens to take an early 1-0 lead.
The Spartans used their exceptional penalty kill to their advantage, forcing the Panthers to a 0-for-4 mark with the man-advantage, and keeping the score close throughout the first two periods. Castleton was able to kill off back-to-back penalties, resulting in a 5-on-3 to stay within one goal of Middlebury in the closing minutes of the first.
Middlebury, who outshot the Spartans 14-2 in the period, controlled the second period.  The Spartans had a power play chance but were only able to get one shot off before losing the advantage.
The Spartans had their best chance at the 4:40 mark of the third period. Jensen skated into the zone with Jade Werger and Anna Daniels close behind. She took a wrist shot that grazed the net, but was unable to deposit it.
The Panthers added two goals in the third period to stretch the lead to 3-0 after Emily Fluke and Molly Downey each snuck the puck past Stephens. The Spartans were unable to mount any sort of significant pressure and the end result was a Spartan loss.
“The defense played really well tonight, but we just were not able to create enough scoring opportunities,” Castleton’s Jenna Dugan said.
The Spartans take a break with their next game coming on Jan. 8, as they hope to get on the winning track in the new year.

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