Spartans Set for In-State Doubleheader at No. 2 Norwich, Saint Michael's

Spartans Set for In-State Doubleheader at No. 2 Norwich, Saint Michael's

CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton men's hockey team hits the road for a couple of New England Hockey Conference contests this weekend, facing off with in-state rivals Norwich and Saint Michael's on Friday and Saturday.

The Spartans travel to Northfield for a matchup with the second-ranked Cadets in Kreitzberg Arena on Friday night at 7 pm., before heading to South Burlington to take on the Purple Knights at Cairns Arena on Saturday at 4 p.m.

The Spartans are unbeaten in their last six contests, playing to a 4-0-2 mark during the stretch to improve their record to 7-8-4 on the season and 6-4-2 in NEHC play.

Brock Labelle has tallied a team-leading 13 points thus far, scoring three times while adding 10 assists. All of his points have come when it matters most, as all 13 have been against conference competition. Bart Moran has eight goals in total this season, seven of them coming on the power play. His seven goals on the man advantage have him tied atop the national leaderboard with four others. Trevor Hanna's six goals and six assists this season tie his career-high numbers in both categories, each of which were set during his freshman campaign. Patrick Thornton also has 12 points this season, registering a team-leading 11 assists to go along with a goal during his senior season. Jimmy Burns' two goals and six helpers rank him second on the team in scoring among defensemen, while Nick Kovalchik and Ryan Smith have seven points apiece.

Ryan Mulder has been on a tear of late, playing his way to a 4-0-2 record in his last six starts. The reigning NEHC Goaltender of the Week improved his overall record to 6-4-3 while moving his save percentage to .901 and his goals-against average to 2.50.

Norwich enters Friday's game unbeaten in its previous 14 contests, going 13-0-1 in that time to improve its record 17-1-2 overall. The Cadets rank second in the nation and first in the NEHC, posting a 12-1-0 record in conference play thus far. Norwich has yet to lose in regulation time, falling to Skidmore in overtime for its only loss of the season.

Cody Smith has been a key player in the Cadet offensive machine, dishing out 24 assists—most in the nation—through 20 games. Kevin Salvucci and William Pelletier each have 23 points to date, with Salvucci racking up 12 goals and 11 assists, while Pelletier has collected 11 goals and 12 helpers. Anthony Flaherty has nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points on the season, while Tyler Piacentini has 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points of his own. In all, Norwich has 10 players over the double-digit point threshold.

Braeden Ostepchuk has gotten the nod 12 times in goals for the Cadets, posting a 1.61 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage with a pair of shutouts. Ty Reichenbach has been just as strong between the pipes, starting eight times with a 1.95 goals-against average, .916 save percentage and two shutouts.

Norwich got the best of Castleton at Spartan Arena earlier this season when the Cadets were the No. 12/15 in Division III. Paul Russell had a pair of goals for Norwich, and the Cadets scored a pair of power-play goals in the contest.

Saint Michael's enters the weekend of action at 7-10-2 overall and 4-8-1 in NEHC action after dropping back-to-back games following a three-game winning streak.

Sam D'Antuono leads the team with 19 points from seven goals and 12 assists, while Eric Salzillo is on his heels with eight goals and 10 assists for 18 points. Josh Dickman also has eight goals on the season, while Danny Divis has 11 assists to date for the Purple Knights. All three have 11 points in NEHC play, with Salzillo and Divis chipping in four goals and seven assists each in conference play. Connor Mitchell and Nic Hermary have seven points apiece, while four SMC skaters are tied at six points each.

Chris Johnson has been a mainstay in goal for the Purple Knights, starting 18 times and playing to a 6-10-2 record this season. The sophomore has a .909 save percentage, but has a goals-against average of 3.45.

Castleton cruised to a 7-0 victory on home ice earlier this season against Saint Michael's behind the strength of five power-play goals. Burns had a pair of scores in the contest, while Labelle had four points of his own. Wyatt Pickrell got the start between the pipes, making 17 saves in the shutout.