CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University women's hockey team will play its final two regular-season home games this weekend with a pair of familiar New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) foes in Southern Maine and the University of New England making their way to Spartan Arena.
Castleton (5-12-4) comes into the matchups bunched in between its two visitors this weekend, currently ranked eighth in the NEHC with a 4-7-2 mark in conference play. After downing New England College last Saturday, the Spartans have 10 points in conference play, leading Southern Maine by one point and trailing the University of New England by the same margin.
Jocelyn Forrest enters the weekend as the leading scorer for the Spartans with 12 points on seven goals and five assists. The sophomore netted a pair of third-period goals to battle the Spartans back to a 2-2 draw at Southern Maine in late January. After enjoying a goal and two assists last weekend, Aimee Briand brought her season totals to five tallies and four helpers, joining teammates Chanel Tvergyak and Hannah Rose with nine points on the season.
Freshman Alexis Kalm and sophomore Rylie Wills have both recently shared time between the pipes for Castleton. Kalm has allowed three or fewer goals in five of her last six starts, including four in a row, en route to her team-leading 3.01 goals against average. Wills most recently got the nod in the win over New England College, improving on her team-best .916 save percentage and collecting her second win of the season.
Southern Maine (6-13-1) is coming off a 3-0 loss to Franklin Pierce last Saturday, but not before upsetting Plymouth State, 2-1, the day before to improve to 4-8-1 in NEHC action.
Alex Mitchell and Katie Koucher lead the Huskies with 14 and 13 points, respectively, after tallying both goals in the win over Plymouth State. The two also paired up for both goals in their first meeting with Castleton. On the season, Mitchell has tallied eight goals to go with six assists, while Koucher has eight goals and five assists.
Britney Evangelista has made 12 starts in goal this season for Southern Maine. Despite just a 3-8-1 record, Evangelista has been stellar for the Huskies. The sophomore ranks second in the NEHC with a .940 save percentage and sixth in goals against average with a stingy 1.85 mark. Evangelista got the nod last time against Castleton, making 24 saves in the tie.
After the 2-2 draw earlier this season, Castleton still holds a slight all-time advantage over Southern Maine, 12-10-4, including a 9-4-1 mark on home ice. The Spartans have not lost to the Huskies at home since 2008.
The University of New England (8-11-2) comes in looking for the season sweep of Castleton after earning a 3-2 win over the Spartans on Jan. 27. The Nor'easters are just ahead of Castleton in the NEHC standings with a 5-7-1 mark. With a matchup at No. 6 Norwich slated for Friday night, the Nor'easters are coming off a 1-1 week with a 4-3 win over New England College on Friday before suffering a 1-0 overtime loss to UMass-Boston on Saturday.
Four Nor'easters have recorded double figures in points this season, led by junior Annie Mullen with 13 points on five goals and eight assists. Gabby Crugnale has picked up 12 points on eight goals and four assists, just ahead of teammate Shannon Smith with 11 points on four goals and seven assists. Senior Mary Wirth has collected a team-high nine assists to go with one goal for ten points to date. Marykate Drinkwater, Haley Gorman, and Tatum Gietl notched the goals in the team's 3-2 win over Castleton in late January.
Senior Sydney Helmbrecht leads the team with 11 starts between the pipes. Playing her way to a 5-6-0 record, Helmbrecht has posted a .909 save percentage and a 3.32 goals against average. She recorded 37 saves on 39 shots to earn in the earlier win over Castleton.
Castleton holds a 5-2-0 all-time advantage over UNE, including a 3-1-0 record at home. The lone home loss came just last season, however, as the Nor'easters topped the Spartans, 2-1, last February.