CASTLETON, Vt. – Welcoming the SUNY Canton Kangaroos, the Manhattanville College Valiants and the Salem State University Vikings, Castleton University will host the WSYB/Catamount Radio Women's Ice Hockey Invitational at Spartan Arena on Saturday, Jan. 6 and Sunday, Jan. 7.
Action will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday with the host Spartans facing off against the Vikings. Directly following the first game, Manhattanville takes on SUNY Canton with a tentative 4 p.m. start time.
Castleton enters the tournament at a 4-6-1 clip overall, which includes a 3-2-1 New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) record. The Spartans will look to return to the championship contest after placing third a season ago.
In goal for Castleton, Rylie Wills and Alexis Kalm have split time with each appearing in six contests. Kalm has notched a team-high 145 saves while maintaining an .868 save percentage. Meanwhile, Wills has skated to a 3-1-1 slate with an .880 save percentage and a 2.75 goals-against-average.
For the Vikings (1-7-2, 0-5-1 CHC), they enter 2018 looking to turn their season around and gain some momentum. Salem State has recorded just one win during a very competitive stretch of games to begin the season. Beginning the 2017-18 schedule with four games against two nationally recognized programs - Endicott College and Morrisville State - the Vikings were unable to get a solid footing.
Behind Kylie Currier and Vanessa VanBuskirk, Salem State will look to get its offense clicking for the second half. Leading the team in goals (4) and assists (6), respectively, the Vikings will rely heavily on their sophomore duo.
Between the pipes, the Vikings have split time between Isabelle Woodward and Sarah Plourde. The two net minders have combined to make over 350 saves in nine games, averaging nearly 40 saves per contest.
Prior to dropping a nonconference contest to Division II Franklin Pierce University, Salem State grabbed its first win of the year at Plymouth State. The Vikings dominated from the opening puck drop to tally a 5-2 victory.
The Kangaroos (5-4-1, 3-1-0 CHC) enter the tournament off a thrilling 1-1 overtime tie at the University of New England on Dec. 9. Part of a two-game set, SUNY Canton came away with a 3-0 victory in the series' first contest.
Tess Adams leads the Roos during the 2017-18 campaign with 11 points (four goals and seven assists), while Sydney Jordan is right behind her with 10 points. The duo played a big role in Canton's win at UNE, scoring three points combined.
In CHC-play, Katie Ferguson, Ashley Gillies, Adams and Jordan have helped lead the Roos to a 3-1-0 slate. The four players have combined to notch 25 of Canton's 47 points scored in league action.
Defensively, Brooke Susac has been impressive, stopping nearly 250 shots in 10 games. Allowing just 16 opposing goals, Susac currently sports a 1.63 goals-against-average and a .939 save percentage. Against CHC foes, Susac has been particularly good, dropping her GAA to less than one (0.75) and raising her save percentage to .966.
Following a fourth-place finish in its 2017 inaugural appearance, Canton will be searching to string together a couple of wins before it turns it sights toward conference and nationally-recognized opponents Morrisville State and Endicott College in the coming weeks.
Manhattanville comes into the WSYB/Catamount Radio Invitational at 4-3-1 overall and 2-2 in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC). The Valiants enter off what is arguably their best performance of the year, skating to a 2-2-overtime tie with No. 8/9 Connecticut College on Dec. 9.
In the aforementioned contest, Manhattanville net minder Rose Pijaca made 25 saves, including 10 in the third period alone. Pijaca has seen a majority of the time between the pipes during the season, despite ceding time to Taylor Elias. Through six appearances, Pijaca owns a 1.83 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage.
Offensively, Nicole Mensi leads the Valiants in several categories, including goals (6), assists (6), points (12) and plus/minus (+9). Sarah Sinning (five goals and three assists) and Amanda Sabia (one goal and six assists) back Mensi's efforts, notching 15 points combined.
Manhattanville returns to the Spartans annual tournament for the first time since its fourth-place finish in the 2015-16 invitational. Its other appearance in recent years was during the 2014-15 edition where it fell to Castleton in the consolation contest.
Following play on Saturday, the two winners will advance to the championship contest at 4 p.m. on Sunday, while the two losing teams compete in the consolation game, beginning at 1 p.m.
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