The Spartans dominated play in the second half, outscoring New England College 12-2 to capture the North Atlantic Conference Championship for the third time in four years in front of a raucous crowd on Saturday night at Spartan Stadium.
Castleton locked up the conference's highest scoring offense, giving up just three goals in the last 45 minutes while putting in 15 of their own. Senior defensemen Ryan Cave earned MVP honors for his role in shutting down the nation's third leading scorer, holding Brian Gillis to just one goal on five shots.
Offensively, the Spartans received stellar performances from senior Sam Bailey and sophomore Zach Davidson. Bailey scored four times and dished off two assists while Davidson recorded four assists and three goals, the final of which gave him 100 for his career.
Castleton held a 58-25 shot advantage and picked up 42 ground balls compared to 25 for the visitors. The Spartans also forced 18 turnovers and controlled the faceoff circle, as Ben Roberts won 15-of-26. In net, Peter Latulippe made seven saves in 57:07 minutes of action.
For NEC, Adam Shute scored twice to paced the offense. Pat Miles picked up six ground balls and caused three turnovers. Cody Kitson played 52:48 minutes in net, making 14 saves while allowing 14 goals.
The Pilgrims got on the board first, as Shute scored at 9:57. Four minutes later Davidson forced a turnover at midfield and ran toward the goal before dishing a pass to Bailey, who found the back of the net. NEC went back up with 1:38 left in the first on a goal by James Putney, but Davidson answered with only 41 seconds left to knot it up 2-2.
Spencer Hunt gave the Spartans their first lead at 9:00 of the second quarter off a nice feed from Alex Green. Nohea King then made it 4-2 with 7:27 left, taking a pass from Will Stuhler with the man advantage. The Pilgrims answered at 2:00 on Gillis' lone goal, but Castleton once again responded. With only 15 seconds left, Phil Patterson made a quick move past his defender and fired it in for the 5-3 lead.
Green led off the second-half scoring just 1:13 in and Davidson made it 7-3 at 7:48. Bailey followed with back-to-back goals in a 30-second span and goals by Ken Bourneuf and Bailey pushed the Spartan advantage to 12-3 with 1:13 left in the third quarter. Shute ended the eight-goal run with 23 seconds remaining in third to make it a 12-4 contest.
The fourth quarter was all Spartans as they outscored NEC 5-1, including the final four goals of the contest.
Bourneuf and Green were impressive as each had two goals and two assists while King finished with a hat trick. In addition to Cave, Davidson and Latulippe both earned NAC All-Tournament honors.
NEC drops to 10-7 with the loss while the Spartans improve to 15-3. Castleton advances to the NCAA Tournament now and will find out its opponent on Sunday night's NCAA Tournament selection show broadcast on ncaa.com.
Courtesy: Castleton Athletic Department
PO Box 4508