RUTLAND, Vt. – The Castleton women's hockey team downed the Johnson & Wales University Wildcats, 4-3, in the New England Hockey Conference semifinals Saturday at Spartan Arena. The Spartans will be the road team in the NEHC finals at top-seed and nationally eighth-ranked Norwich Saturday, March 2 at 3 p.m.
Castleton jumped to a 1-0 lead at the 8:26 mark of the first period when Remillard took a drop pass from Briand near the left faceoff dot before roofing a wrist shot under the bar. The Wildcats answered with 3:03 remaining in the opening period when Samantha Kawejsza beat Rylie Wills on a high wrist shot through traffic.
The Spartans regained the lead 34 seconds into the second period when Briand scored on a shot inside the far-side post on a 2-on-1 rush. Johnson & Wales tied it again at the 4:00 mark of the middle frame on a Kawejsza tip on a shot from Drea Westgaard. Then, just 30 seconds later, Remillard netted her second goal on a scramble in front after a point shot from Felicia Bjälvegård.
Jocelyn Forrest got in the mix with a goal at the 14:10 mark of the second. Forrest's team-leading 16th goal of the season served as the game-winner. The senior has back-to-back game-winning goals for the Spartans in the playoffs and a goal in five of her last six games. Briand collected her second helper on the tally with a cross-ice pass to find Forrest streaking towards the net from a line change.
The Wildcats cut the deficit in half 1:03 into the third period on the power play when Cassie Wakefield picked up a bouncing puck on top of the crease and slid it in.
The Spartan defense killed off two penalties down the stretch as Wills stood tall to earn the win. The senior improves her record to 7-7-2 after the 23-save performance. Jasmine Mucci stopped 16 shots in 58:15 between the pipes for the Wildcats.
The win will earn Castleton's first birth to the NEHC Championship game. The Spartans last reached the finals of the ECAC East Division in 2014-15, where they fell, 1-0, to Norwich.
Norwich defeated seventh-seeded UMass Boston, 3-2, earlier Saturday afternoon at Kreitzberg Arena. On Jan. 25, Castleton and Norwich played to a 3-3 draw at Spartan Arena.