RUTLAND, Vt. – The Castleton men's hockey team struck first and tallied a third-period goal to cut the deficit to as close as one, but nationally-ranked Hobart tacked on a late insurance goal to prevail with a 4-2 victory over the Spartans on Saturday afternoon in New England Hockey Conference action at Spartan Arena.
Glenn Wiswell scored for the second straight night and third consecutive game to give him a team-leading nine goals on the season. Caleb Fizer netted his third goal in the last three games, while Dom Kuziak, Jimmy Burns, and Mark Shroyer each picked up an assist. Brody Wagner was strong in net with 29 saves, but fell to 0-3-0 in net with the loss.
Castleton (7-15-3, 3-14-1 NEHC) opened the scoring as Wiswell gave the Spartans an early 1-0 lead just over four minutes into the game. Kuziak won a battle on the boards near center ice and the puck skipped to Wiswell, who made a nice move on the defender and then beat Statesmen netminder Alexander Connal short side with a backhander under the crossbar.
No. 12/11 Hobart (15-5-3, 12-3-3 NEHC) responded just over a minute later to level the game at 1-1 apiece. After winning a faceoff in the Spartan zone, Colin Merrill took a slap shot that Wagner initially turned aside. The rebound deflected directly to Will Harrison, however, who buried a one-timer from the slot. Zach Sternbach gave Hobart a 2-1 lead with 2:30 left in the period after breaking through the Spartan defense and beating Wagner through the five-hole.
An action-packed second period finished with Hobart tallying the only goal, as Jonas Toupal one-timed a pass from Tanner Shaw at the right wing faceoff circle to stretch Hobart's lead to 3-1. The Spartans had two power-play opportunities in the period but could not capitalize as the Statesmen held a 3-1 lead at the second intermission.
Castleton came out strong in the third period and finally converted on the power play to cut the deficit to one with heavy pressure in the offensive end. After failing to score on the first penalty of a 5-on-3, the Spartans pulled through on the 5-on-4. Shroyer sent a pass over to Burns at the right point, before Burns pushed it forward through traffic. Burns' pass found Fizer at the doorstep, where he rifled a shot inside the left post to cut the margin to 3-2 with 6:51 left in regulation.
Despite outshooting Hobart 12-11 in the final frame, the Statesmen issued the final strike as Shaw netted an insurance goal on the power play with just 4:39 left. The Spartans spent the final five minutes shorthanded and were unable to generate any offense down the stretch as Hobart came away with the 4-2 victory.
Hobart held a 33-22 advantage in shots for the game and finished 2-for-5 on the power play. Castleton went 1-for-5 with the man advantage and won the faceoff battle, 35-26. Trevor Hanna once again led the Spartans in the circle with 23 wins on 33 tries.
The Spartans will advance to the New England Hockey Conference tournament, with the pairings to be announced at a later time.