CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton men's hockey team returns to action after nearly three weeks off this weekend as it travels to Plattsburgh St. for the W.B. Mason Winter Classic on Friday and Saturday.
The Spartans enter the holiday tournament with an overall mark of 3-6-2, most recently playing to a 3-3, overtime draw against Plymouth St. on December 10. The tie broke a three-game losing skid for Castleton, and it was the second consecutive three-goal performance for the Spartan offense after the unit had struggled previously.
Castleton takes on No. 13/15 Neumann in the opening round of the tournament on Friday at 4 p.m., followed by Plattsburgh St. and Wesleyan at 7 p.m. on Friday evening. The two losing squads face off Saturday at 1 p.m. in the consolation round, while the two first-round winners will play for the championship on Saturday at 4 p.m. This marks the first time Castleton will appear in Plattsburgh St.'s holiday tournament since the 2011-12 season, when the Spartans fell to the Cardinals in the championship round of the Cardinal Classic, 2-1.
Senior co-captains Bart Moran and Brock Labelle are tied with Jimmy Burns for the team lead in points midway through the season, as each of them have collected six total points. Moran has netted four goals and two assists, while Labelle has a pair of scores to go along with four helpers. Burns's three-assist performance against Plymouth St. helped vault him into a tie for the team lead, as the defenseman has two goals and four assists on the year. Five players have five points apiece, as Trevor Hanna has three goals and two assists, Ryan Smith and Nick Kovalchik have two goals and three assists, and Troy Taylor and Patrick Thornton have a goal and four assists.
Wyatt Pickrell and Ryan Mulder have split a majority of the minutes in goal, with Pickrell starting in each of Castleton's final three games before the break. Pickrell has a mark of 1-2-1 in his four starts this season, stopping 96 shots for a .914 save percentage and 2.26 goals-against average. Mulder has 138 saves to date, posting a .908 save percentage and a 2.51 goals-against average in six starts en route to a 2-3-1 record.
Neumann enters the weekend ranked in each of the major national polls, checking in at No. 13 in the USCHO.com poll and No. 15 in the D3hockey.com poll. The Knights are 8-3-1 on the year, and boast the No. 3 scoring offense in the nation through their first 12 games. Neumann is a veteran squad, featuring 14 seniors and four juniors.
Jory Mullin is the nation's top scorer this season, racking up 24 points for an impressive 2.0 points per game average. The senior has 14 goals and 10 assists to date, while junior forward Liam Board ranks 15th in the country in points per game (1.58) with four goals and 15 assists. Shayne Morrissey ranks third on the team with 16 points, tallying six goals and 10 assists during the first half of the season. Nick Perruccio has four goals and nine assists for 13 points on the season, while Shane Topf (8g, 3a) and Johannes Sallila (3g, 8a) round out the team's double-digit scorers at 11 points apiece.
Matt Gibney has seen the most action in goal for the Knights, starting seven times and collecting a 4-3-1 record with a 3.50 goals-against average and .882 save percentage. Tyler Lefebvre has three starts this season, going 1-0-0 with a 4.15 goals-against average and .860 save percentage. Anthony Pupplo has started just twice, but the rookie has a 3-0-0 mark between the pipes and has a team-best .952 save percentage and 1.13 goals-against average.
Castleton has faced Neumann just twice, falling 3-2 during the 2007-08 season and 5-1 during the 2008-09 season, both times at Spartan Arena.
Plattsburgh St. enters its tournament at 5-5-0 overall after dropping back-to-back games in early December.
Pat Egan leads the Cardinals in points to date, notching three goals and six assists for a total of nine points. Cole Stallard has a team-leading six goals, but the sophomore has struggled to stay out of the penalty box as he has a team-high 21 penalty minutes this season on five infractions. Ayrton Valente's seven assists are most on the team, while Joe Drabin has chipped in with three goals and three assists for six total points. Gavin Yates and Nick Belger have posted similar stats this season, as each player has a goal and four assists.
Joshua Davies and Brady Rouleau have split time evenly this season, as each netminder has five starts. Davies has a 3-2-0 mark, posting a .919 save percentage in 2.42 goals-against average in his time between the pipes. Rouleau has played his way to a 2-3-0 record, tallying a save percentage of .872 and a 3.23 goals-against average.
Wesleyan comes into the weekend at 5-2-0 overall, winning two out of its three games in early December before the break. The Cardinals received one vote for a ranked spot in the most recent D3hockey.com poll, though they remain unranked as it stands currently.
James Kline's nine points lead the team, as the senior has three goals and six assists through seven games. Andy Espinoza has four goals and four assists to average more than a point per game, while Dylan Holze is not far back at two goals and four assists. Walker Harris has five points from two goals and three assists, while Cam McCusker and Chad Malinowski have four points each.
Dawson Sprigings has started six times this season, posting the fourth-best save percentage (.949) and fifth-best goals-against average (1.34) in the nation. The senior has stopped 149 total shots this season, an average of nearly 25 per game. He has a 4-2-0 record between the pipes, and has posted one shutout in his six appearances.