RUTLAND, Vt. – The Southern Maine men's hockey team scored five unanswered goals to erase a two-goal deficit on the way to an 8-4 playoff-clinching win over Castleton on Friday.
The win for the Huskies clinched the final New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) playoff spot. They lead both Castleton (4-16-4, 2-13-2 NEHC) and Johnson & Wales (4-17-3, 2-13-2) by three points with one game remaining after the Wildcats fell on the road at Hobart, 5-2.
Tyler Mathieu led the way for Southern Maine (5-16-3, 4-12-1 NEHC) with a hat trick. Michael Green finished with a goal and a pair of assists, while Adam Papayoanou notched three helpers. In addition, Brendan Dowler scored twice, Derk Tillotson had a goal and an assist, and Oskar Bjurstrom, Adam Withers, and Tyler Gardiner each pitched in a pair of helpers as the Huskies boasted a season-best eight multi-point performances.
For the Spartans, four different goal scorers – Anton Tarvainen, Jacob Erwin, Jason Bilski, and Glenn Wiswell – accounted for the offense. Freshman Jahwara Rennalls had two assists in his first career multi-point night.
Castleton took an early two-goal lead after just 3:38 before Southern Maine answered within 52 seconds to cut the deficit in half. Then, Castleton scored at the 13:53 mark of the first period to regain its two-goal cushion. Southern Maine scored with 4:01 remaining in the opening frame to send the contest into the first intermission as a one-goal affair.
Quickly into the middle stanza, the Huskies netted a pair of goals within 52 seconds to swing the scoreboard in their favor, both scored on the power play. Two even strength tallies gave the guests a three-goal edge, but Wiswell's goal on the power play at 18:06 of the second period pulled the Spartans back to within two.
The Huskies used a pair of goals, including an empty-net tally, for insurance in the third. In a game that saw 74 penalty minutes, Southern Maine finished 3-for-9 on the power play. On the flipside, Castleton managed one goal on seven man-up opportunities.
Paul Leger picked up the win with 28 saves. Wyatt Pickrell started and allowed four goals on 13 shots. Kyle Alaverdy played in relief and took the loss after surrendering three goals in 36:31 of action with 17 saves.
The Spartans will conclude their season Saturday at 4 p.m. versus New England College for Senior Day.