CASTLETON, Vt. – Opening the final stretch of the regular season, the Castleton University women's ice hockey team heads out on the road for a couple of New England Hockey Conference contests.
In the most recent conference standings, four teams are within five points of the each other (Two points per win and one point per tie). With each team still to play between 4-5 games, the playoff seeding could see a serious shakeup as soon as the coming weekend.
Travelling to Henniker, N.H. to play New England College (3:30 p.m. on Friday) for the first time during the 2017-18 season, Castleton (8-11-1, 4-4-1 NEHC) will look to bounce back from its past two losses. On Tuesday, the Spartans skated into a buzz saw, represented by a scorching-hot Norwich team, which recently saw a return to the nation's top program.
Despite going down 3-0 early, the Spartans battled, keeping the visiting No. 1/2 Cadets scoreless through the second period. Goalie Alexis Kalm entered the contest in relief and stopped 14-of-15 shots faced through the middle frame.
After Aimee Briand scored the Spartans lone goal of the game in the opening minute of the third, the Cadets used a 5-on-3 situation to blow the game open. Norwich tallied a pair of power-play goals and three scores in just three minutes to cruise to an 8-1 win.
New England College (2-16-2, 1-7-1 NEHC) enters play off a 3-2-overtime loss to the University of Southern Maine on Saturday. Haley Wheeler and Vicki Shaw scored for the Pilgrims in the loss.
Leading the way through the season for NEC, Brittany Tierney has five goals, while Katie Donohue has recorded the most points with seven via four goals and three assists.
The Spartans will continue their road trip to Plymouth State (6-11-4, 5-3-2 NEHC) for a 2 p.m. game on Saturday. On Friday, the Panthers will see nationally ranked Norwich come to town.
Earlier in the season, the Spartans and Panthers played a highly competitive 60-plus minutes of action before Castleton goals- and points-leader Briand notched the overtime game-winner.
In that contest, the goaltenders were impressive, each making 28 saves. For Plymouth State, Emelie Lindqvist took the loss, allowing two goals, while Castleton's Rylie Wills earned the win, surrendering just one score.
Making up a prior postponed contest, Castleton will welcome NEC to Spartan Arena for a 7 p.m. contest on Tuesday evening.
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