HENNIKER, N.H. – A power-play goal in the third period was the difference on Saturday afternoon, as it lifted Castleton women's hockey to a 1-0 win on the road against New England Hockey Conference opponent New England College.
Rachel Elliott's final frame score gave the Spartans the lead with 11:31 to play in the game, and Rylie Wills went the distance to record a shutout in her first career start. The freshman stopped all 25 shots she faced for the 16-7-2 (11-5-1 NEHC) Spartans, while Anna Daniels and Hannah Rose tallied assists.
Lindsey Powers took the tough loss for the Pilgrims, as she stopped 34 shots in the loss that moved her team to 8-15-1 (3-12-1 NEHC).
Castleton controlled the shot battle all game long, as it poured 35 shots on goal to the Pilgrims' 25. The Spartans also won 43 out of 63 face-offs (68.3 percent) in the game while going 1-5 on the power play and killing off all four penalties they took.
After a scoreless first period, the Spartans turned up the offensive pressure in search of the game's first goal. Castleton had a pair of good looks with just more than six minutes remaining, as Taylor Steadman forced a neutral-zone turnover and skated in two-on-one with a teammate before pulling the trigger on a shot, but Lindsey Powers made a sweeping glove save to keep the game scoreless. Just seconds later, Steadman sprung Brianna Keats on the break. Keats skated in with a defender on her back before getting a shot off, but Powers once again was up for the test with a right-pad save. With time winding down in the middle period, Castleton once again had a golden chance as Lisa Kilroy and Rachel Bombardier skated in two-on-one, but Bombardiers shot couldn't find the five-hole as the two teams went into the locker room still even at 0-0. Overall, the Spartans outshot NEC 16-4 in the second frame, however they were unsuccessful on two power-play opportunities.
After killing off a five-on-three penalty situation early in the period, Castleton would finally break into the goal column at 8:29 of the third period. Elliott broke the scoreless tie on a power play for the Spartans, netting her second goal of the year. Daniels skated the puck up the left wing before sending it to Elliott in the slot. The senior let go a wrist shot that rang off the left post and into the back of the net for the one goal lead. A late penalty by the Spartans sent NEC to the power play, but the Castleton defense stood tall with its fourth successful penalty kill of the game to preserve the lead. With the Pilgrims' goalie pulled for an extra attacker, the Spartans drew a penalty to earn a power play that would for NEC's goalie back into her net for the remainder of the game, giving the Spartans the 1-0 win.
Castleton is now off until the NEHC playoffs, which will begin next Saturday. Playoff pairings and times will be announced at a later time.