CASTLETON, Vt. – After splitting a pair of New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) games over the weekend, Castleton begins a five-game non-conference stretch this weekend as it hosts its annual Rutland Herald Invitational (RHI) Tournament.
The RHI features the same four squads as a year ago, with Western New England (WNE), Tufts and Brockport coming to town for the two-day tournament, November 25-26. Tufts and Brockport face off at 3:45 p.m. on Friday night, followed by Castleton and Western New England at 7 p.m. The consolation game will be held on Saturday at 3:45 p.m., followed by the championship contest at 7 p.m.
Tufts was the RHI champion last season, downing Western New England in a shootout on day one before winning a 4-3 contest over Brockport in the RHI Championship. The Spartans finished third after topping WNE, 3-2, in the consolation round.
The Spartans enter the tournament with an overall record of 3-4-1, with three of their losses coming against ranked opponents this season. The team has all three wins at home, and is looking for its first RHI title game appearance since 2012.
Brock Labelle leads the team with six points to date from two goals and four assists. The senior had a four-point outburst against Saint Michael's to overtake his co-captain, Bart Moran, for the top spot on the team. Moran's three goals give him the team lead, while his two assists give him five total points this season. Defensemen Patrick Thornton and Troy Taylor have each tallied a goal and four assists this year, while Ryan Smith has two games with one goal and one assist for a total of four points.
Ryan Mulder has been the top goalie, starting in six of the team's eight games for a 2-3-1 record. The junior has a save percentage of .908 to pair with a 2.51 goals-against average and 138 saves.
Western New England enters the weekend with a mark of 2-4-1 overall, most recently picking up a 3-2 win over Wentworth. The Golden Bears have struggled on the road this season, dropping their first two road games by a combined score of 11-2. The Golden Bears finished last in the 2015 RHI, falling to Tufts and Castleton.
WNE has a young squad, as the roster boasts 17 sophomores, including many of who saw substantial action a year ago. The Golden Bears have just three juniors and two seniors on the roster, though all three juniors have two or more points thus far.
Sophomore Steve Beck leads the team with four goals to date, including the game-winning goals in each of his team's wins. Edmund Rogers and Stefan Koproske each have a goal and three assists to date, while David DiSchiavi has a team-leading four helpers.
Kevin Gollmer has started all seven goals in net for his squad, stopping 235 shots en route to his 2-4-1 mark. Gollmer has posted a .904 save percentage thus far, as well as a 3.62 goals-against average.
Brockport enters the RHI with an overall mark of 2-3-1 after having a two-game winning streak snapped at the hands of Geneseo on Saturday. The Golden Eagles have had struggles keeping the puck out of the net this season, allowing two goals or more in all six games—including six goals in each of the last two contests.
Tim Kielich has been red-hot to start the year, ranking among the top 10 in the nation in assists per game. The sophomore has eight assists through six contests in addition to one goal for a team-high nine points. Aidan Verbeke and Connor Hutchins have each tallied three scores this season, while Brandon McMartin, Zac Sikich and Ryan Kangas have two goals and two assists apiece. Brian Carville is the team's top scoring defenseman, tallying five points on a goal and four assists to date.
Cole Burack has gotten the nod five times in goal this season, managing a 2-2-1 record thanks in part to the Golden Eagles' powerful offense. The sophomore has a save percentage of .876 to pair with a 4.34 goals against average.
Tufts comes into the tournament unbeaten, winning all three of its games to date. The Jumbos picked up all three of their wins at home, defeating Trinity, Wesleyan and Becker while scoring at least three goals in each game.
Junior forward Brian Brown sits among the national leaders in the early season, averaging 2.0 points per game. Brown has three goals and three assists thus far, leading the way for Tufts with six points. Rookie Anthony Farinacci has started his career off strong, racking up four assists and a goal in three games for five total points. Patrick Lackey and Cooper Stahl each have to goals on the young season, while Sean Kavanagh has two assists.
Mason Pulde has started twice this season, working his way to a 2-0-0 mark in goal with a shutout. The senior has stopped 73 of the 74 shots he has faced, good for an impressive .986 save percentage and 0.50 goals-against average, both of which rank second best in the nation.
Players to Watch
Castleton - #9 Bart Moran - Moran got off to a hot start this season, averaging a point per game through the first five games of the year. The senior has been lethal on the power-play, netting two of the team's nine power-play scores. Look for Moran to see significant ice time with the Spartans on a man-advantage, as the Spartans' active career leading scorer uses his size and versatility to create chances. Moran also tallied the game-winning goal this year vs. Wentworth.
Western New England - #31 Kevin Gollmer - Gollmer has been spectacular in both wins this season, stopping 40 and 45 shots vs. the University of New England and Wentworth, respectively. Gollmer is averaging more than 33 saves per game this year, and is capable of keeping the Golden Bears within striking distance of their opponents. If Gollmer gets rolling, WNE could be a competitor.
Brockport - #11 Tim Kielich - Kielich looks to keep his stellar season going this weekend, and he has been especially dangerous on the power play. Eight of the sophomore's nine points this season have come with his team up a man, including seven of his assists. It will pay to be disciplined against the Golden Bears, as Kielich & Co. make teams pay for penalties. Brockport is 14-for-50 on power-play chances this season, 10th best in the nation.
Tufts - #9 Brian Brown - It's no surprise that Brown has gotten off to a hot start this season, as the junior is the team's active career leader in goals, assists and points. The junior has been a force this season, twice netting game-winning goals in the final 20 minutes of action this season. Brown had a hand in the third game-winner for Tufts, assisting on team's first goal in a shutout win against Becker on Tuesday.