Men's Hockey Set to Collide with Norwich in NEHC Quarterfinals

Men's Hockey Set to Collide with Norwich in NEHC Quarterfinals

CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton men's hockey team has met Norwich in six consecutive postseasons, and it will soon be seven when the two squads face off Saturday night at 7 p.m. in New England Hockey Conference Quarterfinal action at Kreitzberg Arena.

Castleton (7-15-3) is the eighth seed after finishing the regular season 3-14-1 in NEHC action. No. 12/12 Norwich (17-6-2) claimed the top seed after going 13-3-2 in conference play.

The two teams squared off twice during the regular season with Norwich coming out on top each time. The Cadets claimed a 2-0 win in front of Spartan Arena's largest crowd of the season on Dec. 1, before securing the inaugural Wolk Cup one week later with a 4-1 victory on their home ice Dec. 8.

Wyatt Pickrell was spectacular between the pipes in the first matchup with one big save after another to keep the game scoreless for over 40 minutes. Norwich struck late in the third and then added an empty-netter to seal the victory. Game two was more of the same with flashes of back-and-forth action as the two teams skated into the first intermission tied, 1-1. The Cadets netted three goals in the second period en route to the win.

Norwich holds a 24-5-1 all-time advantage in the head-to-head series, with Castleton's latest victory coming at home during the 2015-16 campaign. The Spartans have two wins at Kreitzberg Arena, most recently a 3-2 overtime triumph in the 2010-11 regular season.

Castleton is coming off a pair of hard-fought battles last weekend, with third-period goals looming large in a 3-2 loss to Skidmore and a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Hobart.

The Spartans enter the tournament averaging nearly three goals per game over the last seven contests. After a slow start on special teams, Castleton has potted six power-play goals over their past four games. Caleb Fizer continues to pace the offense with 17 points on seven goals and 10 assists. Glenn Wiswell is currently on a three-game scoring streak and has collected 14 total points on nine goals and five assists. Trevor Hanna has registered five goals and handed out seven assists, while Troy Taylor and Ryan Smith each have 11 points on a goal and 10 assists. Jacob Erwin and Dom Kuziak have combined for 20 points on five goals and 15 assists. 

Ryan Mulder has been the top Spartan goaltender with 16 starts. The senior backstop is 6-7-3 overall with an .891 save percentage and 3.18 goals-against average. 

Norwich is no stranger to the postseason as the defending national champions clinched their 19th regular season conference title in the last 20 years. The Cadets entered the final weekend needing just one point to secure the title, and that was all they earned after a 2-2 tie against Skidmore on Saturday. Norwich fell to Hobart last Friday, 5-4.

Coby Downs leads the Cadet offense with 20 points from 10 goals and 10 assists. Kevin Salvucci and Jordan Hall have each collected 17 points from nine goals and eight assists, while Todd Jackson, Alec Brandrup, and Carter Cowlthorp have tallied 14 points apiece.  

The Norwich defense gave Castleton trouble but has been forcing havoc all season as the Cadets have limited opponents to just 2.00 goals per game, good for 10th nationally. Braeden Ostepchuk has been strong in net as he ranks second in the league in goals-against average (1.99) and third in save percentage (.924).