CASTLETON, Vt. – Recently anointed New England Hockey Conference Rookie of the Year Ali Stevens and Co-coach of the Year Ashley Salerno will lead the Castleton University women's ice hockey team south to face No. 2 UMass Boston in conference championship semifinal action on Saturday.
Looking for its first berth into a conference championship title game since 2014-15 – when the team competed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference – the three-seeded Spartans will see the Beacons for the third time this season, while still searching for their first victory.
Earlier in the season, Castleton held a 3-0 lead at Edward T. Barry Ice Rink before UMass Boston stormed back. Feeling the effects of a short-handed roster and the backend of a weekend doubleheader, the team was unable to slow a rejuvenated Beacon squad in the second and third periods.
In the matchup at Spartan Arena, the teams skated past the 60-minute mark tied. Shortly after the beginning of overtime, UMass Boston got the benefit of a referee no-call following a saved shot. As a Beacon and Spartan scuffled in the goalie crease, Alexis Kalm lost control of the puck and it made its way down her pads and trickled across the goal line.
This time a well-rested Spartan squad will look to a mix of veteran and newcomer leadership. Captain Hannah Rose reinforces the defensive front while facilitating many scoring opportunities that led to a team-high 15 assists during the regular season.
Meanwhile, Kalm looks to improve upon her .855 save percentage and 4.46 goals-against average numbers this season against UMass Boston. Following a wobbly start to the season, the Aberdeen, N.C. native has been nearly unconscious since the WSYB/Catamount Radio Invitational where she won tournament MVP. Behind nine wins and three losses, she has put together five shutouts, a .918 save percentage and 2.21 GAA.
Hoping to make it three straight wins over Castleton, UMass Boston will rely on leading goal and point scorer Jane Morrisette. The senior forward led the offense with 14 goals and four assists for 18 points.
Defensively Alyssa DePippo played fewer minutes in goal but was far more dominant than her teammate. In nine appearances, the junior went 7-0-2 with a .918 save percentage and a 1.78 GAA.
The winning team in Saturday's 3 p.m. matchup will advance to the NEHC Championship Final on March 3. They will meet the winner from the other side of the bracket featuring a 3 p.m. contest between No. 1 Norwich University and the fourth-seeded Plymouth State Panthers.
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