RUTLAND, Vt. – The Castleton men's hockey team picked up a win in its New England Hockey Conference opener on Friday night, defeating Saint Anselm by a score of 5-3 at Spartan Arena.
The Spartans move to 2-0-1 on the young season, including a 1-0-0 mark in NEHC action. Saint Anselm falls to 0-1-0 both overall and in NEHC play.
Bart Moran and Ryan Smith each had a goal and an assist in the contest to lead the way, while Henning Dahlberg potted an empty net goal in the waning minutes for the game-winning goal. Ryan Mulder stopped 25 shots in his second win of the season in goal.
Jon Pallotta, Brian Cameron and Patrick Horrocks each tallied goals for the Hawks, while Justin Longo and Brendon Kerrigan each had two assists.
Castleton got on the board first, as they squad potted a power-play goal in the opening period. Ryan O'Toole sent a pass into the corner, where Brock Labelle collected it before carrying it to the left point. Labelle sent a wrister towards the net, where Nick Kovalchik redirected it through Joyce for his first goal of the season and the 1-0 lead 8:30 into the game.
Moran doubled that lead to 2-0 early in the second period, scoring a power-play goal just more than four minutes into the frame. Smith cycled the puck to Troy Taylor in the high slot, who found Moran on the left side of the net for the short-side goal that sent the goalie's water bottle flying. The Hawks cut the lead back to a goal less than two minutes later, as Pallotta found the back of the net by banking one in off of Mulder's skate. The Spartan offense bounced back with another second period goal, as Caleb Fizer found Smith at the far post in transition for an easy goal into the open side of the net, sending the game into the second intermission with Castleton up 3-1.
The Hawks continued grinding away at the Spartan lead in the final period, cutting it back to one once more just more than seven minutes in. Cameron took a pass from Pallotta on the power play and beat Mulder to make it a 3-2 game with 12:37 to play in the final frame.
The one-goal lead held for the Spartans until the final minutes of the game, until Saint Anselm pulled its goalie with just 2:09 to play following timeouts by both sides. Dahlberg and Patrick Thornton tallied quick empty-net goals, returning Joyce to his crease with just 1:05 left in the game with Castleton up 5-2. The Hawks would not relent, as Horrocks potted a wrister into the far side of the net from the top of the right circle to close the gap to two goals, once again returning Joyce to the bench. The Spartans had more chances down the stretch at the empty net, but could not convert as the game ended with the 5-3 score still in place.
Castleton held a narrow, 30-28 edge in shots on the night, while each team won 39 face-offs. Castleton converted two of its six power-play opportunities, while the Hawks were successful on one of their three chances.
Castleton is back on the ice on Saturday at 4 p.m. as it hosts New England College at Spartan Arena in its second NEHC contest in as many days.