Spartans Host Babson, UMass-Boston in Pivotal NEHC Weekend

Spartans Host Babson, UMass-Boston in Pivotal NEHC Weekend

CASTLETON, Vt. – After extending its winning streak to a season-long four games with a pair of wins last weekend, the Castleton men's hockey team returns to home ice for a pair of key New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) matchups on Friday and Saturday.

The Spartans host Babson at 7 p.m. on Friday night, before facing off with a tough UMass-Boston team on Saturday at 4 p.m. Castleton enters the two-game set with an overall mark of 7-8-2 after its recent success, including a 6-4 mark in NEHC action.

The Spartans' recent improvement can be largely attributed to an improvement in special teams play, as the penalty kill has been highly successful since the turn of the new year. In four games in 2017, the Spartans have killed off 14 of the 15 power-play chances their opponents have had—good for a 93.3 percent kill rate.

Brock Labelle leads the team in points this season, tallying 12 points from three goals and nine assists, both of which are career highs. Bart Moran leads the squad with seven goals, the third time in his career he has reached the seven-goal mark, adding four assists for 11 total points. Moran has been lethal on the power play for Castleton, tallying six power-play goals—four of which have come in NEHC play. Patrick Thornton is the team leader with 10 assists, adding one goal to tie Moran for second on the team with 11 points. Trevor Hanna is on his way to a career year for the Spartans, tallying six goals and four assists for 10 total points through 17 games. Ryan Smith and Jimmy Burns have added seven points apiece in their junior campaigns thus far, while rookies Otis Goldman and Troy Taylor have six points apiece.

Ryan Mulder has been the primary netminder this season, starting 11 times and playing to a 6-4-1 record. The junior has a 2.63 goals against average and .891 save percentage on the season, stopping 230 shots in total.

Babson comes to town sporting a 9-7-1 record, though the Beavers have struggled of late. The team has gone just 2-6-0 in its last eight games dating back to November after starting the year with a 7-1-1 mark. Babson and Castleton are tied for fourth in the NEHC with matching 6-4 records thus far.

Tommy Munichiello leads the Beavers in both goals and points, tallying seven goals while adding eight assists for 15 points. Michael Phillips's 10 assists lead the team, and he's added three goals for 13 total points. Rob Devaney is tied with Phillips at 13 points, scoring five times with eight assists this season. Charlie Ackerman has 10 points on six goals and four helpers, thought he has taken a team-leading 10 penalties this season. Dan Casey and Tim Searles have added five assists each, while Ryan Gouveia and Bill Seligman have each scored three times this season.

Matt Pompa and Bryan Botcher have split time in net, with Pompa getting the edge with 10 starts. The sophomore has a 5-5-0 record on the season, stopping shots at a .934 clip with a 2.08 goals-against average and one shutout. Botcher, also a sophomore, has similar numbers; he has a 2.06 goals-against average to pair with a .930 save percentage in his seven starts, collecting a 5-2-1 record.

The Beavers got the best of Castleton earlier this season, defeating the Spartans 4-1 on their home ice. It was an even game during 5-on-5 play, but the Spartans surrendered three power-play goals in the contest.

UMass-Boston comes into the weekend at 9-6-2 overall, but have fallen from the rankings in recent weeks after being ranked as high as No. 2 in the country to start the season. The Beacons started the season 4-1, but have gone just 5-5-2 since late November and are just 4-5-1 in NEHC play.

Colin Larkin has been a force for UMass-Boston, netting 16 goals—seven of them on the power play—while adding 12 assists for 28 total points this season. The junior ranks sixth in the nation in points per game (1.65), and is followed closely by teammate Ryan Cusin. Cusin has 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points, tying him for the most points in the nation among all rookies. Tyler Bishop's 19 assists from the blue line help him rank No. 2 in the country in points per game among defensemen, at 1.29. Other notable scorers for the Beacons include Albee Daley (7-12-19), Nolan Redler (5-10-15), Gabe Chuckran (2-11-13) and Zach Lindsay (4-8-12).

UMass-Boston has featured a pair of rookies between the pipes this season, with Jordan Bustard getting a majority of the action. He's stopped 277 shots on the year en route to a 7-4-2 record and one shutout. The freshman has a 2.44 goals-against average while stopping shots at a .899 clip. Bailey MacBurnie has started four times in net, going 2-2-0 while posting a .944 save percentage and 2.02 goals-against average.

The Beacons rolled to a 7-1 win over the Spartans on home ice earlier this season, scoring five times on the power play in the win. Larkin had a hat trick in the win, while Daley tallied four assists for UMass-Boston. Moran scored the lone Castleton goal in the third period, assisted by Taylor and Kevin Rosset.