CASTLETON, Vt. – After a successful 2018-19 season where the team finished runner-up to Norwich in the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) championship game, the Castleton University women's hockey team is looking ahead to a new beginning. With new goals and high expectations, the Spartans return this weekend for the start of a new campaign.
The Spartans will open up the 2019-20 season at Spartan Arena to take on Oswego State. The last time these two teams faced off was back in October of 2017. The Spartans fell behind 2-0 after two periods of action but the team recovered and used two goals to pull even at two apiece. The Lakers however, would ultimately earn the victory, 3-2 during the overtime period.
Despite losing their top scorers from a season ago in Aimee Briand (11-16-27) and Jocelyn Forrest (16-10-26), the Spartans return 13 members from the 2018-19 roster. The team will also welcome in new faces as nine freshman have joined the team to help the Spartans improve on an 11-14-3 (9-5-2 NEHC) record from a season ago.
Samantha Lawler, Darby Palisi, Katie Nealon, Katherine Campoli, Miranda Wheeler, Sara Molina Barrachina, Jenna Crisp, Brooke Greenwood, and Kaitlin Bardellini will all begin their colligate careers at Spartan Arena.
"They're going to be our future," second year head coach Mike Venezia stated regarding his freshman class. "They're going to be players that we can build the program around and have them take the torch from our seniors who will be graduating this year."
With new faces coming to the team this season, the Spartans will have more depth and will not rely on a few members to get the job done.
"We have a lot of seniors and underclassmen that are ready to step up and take those roles," Venezia commenting on losing his top scorers from a season ago. "It's a team effort, not individual based and I think between all four lines and defense have a lot of talent and depth that we necessary didn't have last year."
Gauthier returns for the Spartans as she led all returners with 22 points as she tallied seven goals and 15 assists last season while Trivino and Vingi will look to spread the knowledge of the game to the underclassmen through experience.
Senior Alexis Kalm fills the void as starting goaltender for the upcoming season that was left by Rylie Wills. Kalm played in 11 games last season and recorded an .893 save percentage and accumulating a 3.02 goals against average and will look to improve those numbers this season.
Coming into the 2019-20 season, the Spartans have been selected to finish in third place in the NEHC standings. Norwich once again stands alone at the top of the rankings as it received all first-place votes in the coaches poll.
The Spartans have improved since the 2016-17 season when the team finished with an overall record of 8-14-4 record and made a NEHC quarterfinals appearance.
In the 2017-18 season the team took a step forward, finishing with an overall record of 13-13-1 and appeared in the NEHC semifinals with a comeback falling short as UMass Boston defeated the Spartans 2-1.
Last season, the team took another step forward as the Spartans swept through the playoffs before being overwhelmed by Norwich in the NEHC championship game.
"To get over the hump I think we need to keep staying consistent and keep believing," Trivino stated about what the team needs to do to win a NEHC championship. "I think it's more mental than physically on the ice because we're all capable of doing it … it just comes down to bringing into action."
The Castleton women's hockey team will open up the 2019-20 season at Spartan Arena as it takes on Oswego State on Friday, November 1 at 7 p.m. The Spartans will open conference play on Friday, November 8 as the team will travel to take on Salem State with the game slated to begin at 6 p.m.