Women’s Hockey: Cadets Advance, Spartans Fall in NEHC Semi-final Doubleheader

Courtesy Norwich and Castleton Sports Information

NORTHFIELD – The Norwich University women’s ice hockey team advanced to its eighth straight New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Tournament title game with a 3-1 victory over the University of New England on Friday afternoon at Kreitzberg Arena.

Junior Celeste Robert (Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec) made 21 saves, while Sarah Schwenzfeier (Hingham, Mass.), Adelle Murphy (Roseau, Minn.), and Maki Shuchuk (Madison, Wis.) all scored goals to lead the Cadets.

Norwich (21-6-0) jumped out to a quick start, scoring two goals in the first 3:34 of the game to take a 2-0 lead and forcing an early timeout by UNE.

Shuchuk put the Cadets up 1-0 at the 2:13 mark of the first period by tipping an initial shot by Taylor Cross (Saugus, Mass.) from the point into the back of the net and past UNE starting goalie Sydney Helmbrecht. Christine Bouchat-Bonin (St. Jean Chrysostome, Quebec) picked up the secondary assist on the goal.

Norwich didn’t take long to increase the lead as Schwenzfeier slid a rebound behind Helmbrecht for her 11th goal of the season at the 3:34 mark off an initial shot by Maddie Tasha (North Falmouth, Mass.) from the blue line.

The Cadets got another quick start in the second period with Murphy tipping home an initial shot by Kim Tiberi (Raleigh, N.C.) to make it 3-0 Norwich at the 3:28 mark of the middle stanza.

UNE (15-9-2) answered just 24 seconds later to get on the board as Mary Wirth redirected a pass from the right by Gabby Crugnale into the back of the net to beat Robert and end her bid at the NU single-season shutout record.

Neither side was able to score again as NU skated away with the 3-1 victory and will now look to win its fifth straight NEHC title and seventh in the last eight years on Saturday at 4 p.m. when it hosts UMass Boston at Kreitzberg Arena.

Norwich won its 12th straight game with the victory, which is its longest win streak since the 2013-14 season when the Cadets won 18 straight.


NORTHFIELD. – The Castleton women’s hockey team suffered a 2-1, overtime loss, in Friday evening’s New England Hockey Conference semifinals against UMass.-Boston at Norwich’s Kreitzberg Arena.

An overtime goal by Alli Bianchini was the difference, as the sophomore found the back of the net to propel the No. 3 Beacons to tomorrow’s NEHC championship game.

Jess Cameron turned in a 49-save performance for the second-seeded Spartans, but it was not enough to lift her team to victory. Brianna Keats scored the lone Castleton goal in the game, notching a then go-ahead tally in the second period.

Katie Jeter netted the game-tying goal for UMass.-Boston at 12:37 of the third period, while Jenny Currie tallied an assist on the play. Rachel Myette stopped 23 shots in the win, moving her personal record to 12-7-0 on the year.

The Spartans conclude their season with a 17-8-2 record following the loss, while UMass.-Boston is now 15-12-0 heading into the finals.

The two teams had a scoreless first period, as the Beacons held a 12-10 shot advantage after one frame. Ashley Pelkey had the best look in the period for the Spartans, as she got out on a breakaway with less than 1:30 to play, but she was rejected by Rachel Myette to send the game into the first intermission.

After more back-and-forth play to open the second period, the two teams skated four-on-four for 1:16 before Castleton received a brief power play. Seconds after the power play expired, the Spartans would take the first lead of the game. Castleton worked the puck out to Morgan Richard, who pulled the trigger on a shot from the point. Richard’s shot would find the stick of Keats, who deflected it past Myette to give Castleton a 1-0 advantage with 9:19 to play in the period. A late-period Spartan turnover would give the Beacons a golden chance to tie the game, as their leading scorer, Currie, got in on a breakaway. Currie tried to go five-hole on Cameron, but the senior netminder stood the test to preserve the 1-0 edge going into the second intermission.

The Beacons would not back down in the final period of regulation, as a relentless forecheck led to an eventual UMass.-Boston equalizer. Currie sent a pass out to Jeter at the point, and Jeter fired a slap shot over the shoulder of Cameron to knot the game even at one goal apiece with just more than seven minutes to play. The Beacons would continue to get chances, putting 13 pucks on net in the final regulation frame alone.

In the overtime frame, the Beacons kept up the offensive pressure, outshooting the Spartans 11-0 in the eight-plus minutes of play. After a failed Castleton clearing attempt, Bianchini slid the puck under the pads of Cameron to give the game its final score of 2-1.

UMass.-Boston held a dominating edge in shots, 51-24, while the Spartans held a narrow, 37-34 edge in face-offs. Neither squad could get the power play going, as Castleton went 0-1 and the Beacons were 0-3.

The Spartan senior class of Cameron, Rachel Bombardier, Anna Daniels, Rachel Elliott, Taylor Steadman and Sam Pion finish their careers as the winningest class in program history with a 56-43-11 record.