Women’s Hockey: Norwich and Castleton Advance to NEHC Championship Game

Courtesy Norwich and Castleton Sports Information

NORTHFIELD –– The Norwich University women’s ice hockey team survived a stern test from seventh-seeded UMass Boston with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Beacons on Saturday afternoon in the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Semifinals.

Norwich (20-5-2) got a pair of goals from junior forward Sophie McGovern (Hermantown, Minn.), as well as another from Brynn Wopperer (Amherst, N.Y.) as the Cadets rallied from two separate one-goal deficits to escape with the victory.

Sophomore Emily Lambert (Riverview, Mich.) made 18 saves to pick up the victory and improve to 13-4-1 on the season.

One week after upsetting No. 2 seed Suffolk, UMass Boston (10-15-2) took a 1-0 lead at the 14:49 mark of the first period on a power play goal from Kaleigh Beauregard off an assist from Erica Lunn. Beauregard fired a wrist shot from the top of the slot off a pass from behind the net by Lunn for her fourth goal of the season.

UMass Boston carried the 1-0 lead into the first intermission and outshot Norwich 8-7 in the opening frame.

Norwich needed just 53 seconds to tie the game back up in the second period as McGovern sniped a wrist shot into the top left corner of the net from the top of the slot off a pass from Amanda Conway (Methuen, Mass.) near the Norwich bench. Maddie Moell (Clarence Center, N.Y.) picked up the second assist starting the break out with a cross-ice pass to Conway in the neutral zone.

UMass Boston continued to be a thorn in the side of the Cadets though as Jane Morrisette regained the one-goal lead for the Beacons with a stuff in attempt on top of the crease after an initial shot by Casey Adimey at the point took a weird deflection and wound up sitting in the NU crease. Arielle Gallucci picked up the second assist on the goal.

Norwich answered just over four minutes later with Wopperer scoring an unassisted goal for her seventh of the season at the 15:33 mark. Wopperer stripped a puck off a UMass player’s stick on the fore check and then capitalized on another Beacon defender falling over to possess the puck at the right wing. Wopperer dragged the puck around another defender and then sent a twisted wrister into the top right corner of the net and over the glove of UMB’s Caty Flagg to tie the game at 2-2.

McGovern scored the game-winning goal for her 13th goal of the season and her 99th career point when she tipped a shot off the crossbar and in as she crossed through the slot. Kirsten Watts (Chugiak, Alaska) took the initial shot from the point off a defense to defense pass from the Samantha Benoit (Bow, N.H.).

Neither side was able to score again although UMass Boston’s Morrisette nearly tied the game with four seconds left as she hit the post with a close shot from the left goal line that deflected away from the NU net.

Norwich advances to its 11th straight appearance in the NEHC Championship. The Cadets will be looking for their ninth NEHC Tournament title when they host No. 3 seed Castleton on Saturday, March 2 at Kreitzberg Arena.

RUTLAND –– 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.

Jade Remillard led all players with two goals and an assist. Aimee Briand also finished with three points with a goal and a pair of helpers.

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.