CASTLETON, Vt. – Despite controlling play for much of the contest, the Castleton men's hockey team was unable to find a goal on Saturday evening, falling to No. 12/15 Norwich by a final score of 4-0 in a New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) matchup.
The Spartans fall to 3-4-1 overall and 2-4-0 in the NEHC with the loss, while the Cadets improve to 5-1-1 overall and 5-1-0 in conference action.
Ryan Mulder made 19 saves in the contest, allowing just one goal when the teams were skating 5-on-5. The second line of Nick Kovalchik, Ryan Smith and Brock Labelle had nine shots on goal in the contest, but couldn't break through in the loss.
Four different Cadets had two points in the contest, including four points combined from line-mates Anthony Flaherty and Nick Pichette. Braeden Ostepchuk made 24 saves in the victory, his first shutout and second win of the season.
The Spartans dominated much of the opening frame, outshooting Norwich 12-3 in the first 20 minutes. The Cadets capitalized on one of their few opportunities late in the period, as Cody Smith connected with Paul Russell on a stretch pass to catch the Spartans in a line change. Russell skated in on goal and slipped a backhand goal through the legs of Mulder to make it 1-0 going into the intermission.
In the second period, the Cadets doubled their lead to 2-0 just more than four minutes in as Pichette pulled the trigger on a wrist shot to the short side, tucking it over Mulder's shoulder. Norwich again found the back of the net on the power play in the second period, when Flaherty carried the puck into the high slot and ripped a wrist shot through the five-hole to make it a 3-0 game after two periods.
The Spartans continued pressuring in the final frame, but it was for naught as the Cadets killed off each Spartan opportunity before potting an empty-net goal with just 53 seconds remaining in the game.
Castleton held a narrow, 24-23 edge in shots in the contest, and a slim, 34-33 edge in face-off wins as well. The Cadets went 2-for-5 on the power play in the game, while the Spartans failed to convert on six power-play opportunities.
Castleton returns to action next Friday, as it hosts the Rutland Herald Invitational at Spartan Arena. The first game of the tournament features Tufts and Brockport with puck drop slated for 4 p.m. Castleton will then take on Western New England in a 7 p.m. matchup.