BOSTON, Mass. – Two first-period Beacon scores led host and second seed UMass Boston past the Castleton University women's ice hockey team 2-1 in the New England Hockey Conference Championship semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Edward T. Barry Ice Rink.
Castleton completes its season with a 13-13-1 record, while UMass Boston improves to 12-11-4 and advances to the NEHC Championship title contest. The Beacons will head to Kreitzberg Arena to face top seed and national No. 1 Norwich University.
It was another classic in the young and developing Spartans-Beacons rivalry as the teams went back-and-forth attacking the others zone minutes at a time. Midway through the second period trailing 2-0, Aimee Briand scored her team-leading 13th goal and 23rd point of the year.
With the man advantage for the second time during the game, captain Hannah Rose was at the receiving end of the puck that was previously cycled through the offense. The senior forward ripped a shot from the far point. Ricocheting off a Beacon defender and falling just in front of the post, Briand corralled the loose puck, hooked it around the post and stuffed it in.
During a sloppy first period, Castleton yielded a pair of goals, which would be enough to secure the win for the home team. Alli Bianchini took advantage of a poor defensive clear by Castleton to snap a shot on goal. Kalm appeared to make the initial stop, but quickly lost track of it and it trickled into the net.
Nearly 10 minutes later in the closing seconds of the opening period – moments after the Spartans killed a tripping period – Castleton sent another player to the sin bin. Down a player on another tripping infraction, the Spartans surrendered to a relentless Beacon attack to go down 2-0.
Despite yielding no scores over the last 28 minutes of action, both teams showed flashes of brilliance on defense. On multiple instances, a UMass Boston offensive rush was turned away by a stingy Spartan defense and vice-a-versa.
Between the pipes, Alexis Kalm took the loss to fall to 10-9-0 during the 2017-18 campaign. She made stops on 30-of-32 shots faced for a .938 save percentage, which raised her season average to .920. The sophomore netminder also finished with 2.20 goals against average and a program record five shutouts.
Castleton is expected to return the majority of its squad for the 2018-19 season, including Briand and reigning NEHC Rookie of the Year Ali Stevens.
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