Men’s Hockey: SMC Downs Castleton, 3-2, Johnson Registers 37 Saves

Courtesy St. Michael’s Sports Information

SOUTH BURLINGTON – Two more Saint Michael’s College men’s ice hockey first-years scored their initial college goals, junior Chris Johnson (Duxbury, Mass./Pomfret School) made a season-high 37 saves, and the Purple Knights downed Castleton University, 3-2, on Saturday in Cairns Arena. The Purple Knights improved to 5-4-1, while the Spartans are 4-8. This was the fourth time in the last five meetings the teams played to a 3-2 final.


Johnson pushed his career save total to 1,607, passing Tyler Bilton ’09 (1,602) to take over sixth in program history. First-years Ethan Hendrickson (Budd Lake, N.J./New Jersey Rockets) and Sel Narby (Huntington, N.Y./Connecticut Junior Rangers) both netted their first college goals, while Narby added four blocks, as nine of the Purple Knights’ 12 first-years have scored this season. The 1999-2000 squad saw a program-record 10 turn the feat.


Senior Eric Salzillo (Johnston, R.I./Boston Bandits) also tallied, while he and junior Sam D’Antuono (Hingham, Mass./Dexter School) both finished 11-for-22 on faceoffs, and first-year Niall Foster (Newmarket, N.H./Walpole Express) went 9-of-14 at the dot.


Sophomores Jacob Erwin and Otis Goldman both scored for Castleton, and senior Brody Wagner made 27 stops.


Goldman got the Spartans on the board with 5:34 gone in the opening frame, knocking in a rebound at the right post after sophomore Mark Shroyer’s shot from the right point was saved by Johnson. Less than a minute later, the hosts leveled the score, as first-year Andrew Olevitz (Winthrop, Mass./Northern Cyclones) fired a shot from the left point that Hendrickson redirected home near the right side of the crease at 6:12. First-year Cameron Stewart (Sabattus, Maine/East Coast Wizards) also assisted.


Later in the opening period, Narby intercepted a pass near center ice, skated into the Castleton zone and took a defender wide right before slipping a shot from a difficult angle all the way across the crease and just inside the left post – all while being hauled down – at 14:45.


Salzillo capped a flurry of three goals in 15:07 by tallying 1:19 into the second period. After sophomore William Santangeli (Oakville, Ontario/Saint Mark’s School) kicked a loose puck at the blue line to keep it in the zone while engaged with a Spartan, first-year Zach Sullivan (Weymouth, Mass./Walpole Express) passed into the slot for classmate Paul McAuliffe (Newton, Mass./Kimball Union Academy), who fired a shot that Wagner denied. The rebound trickled to the left side of the crease, where Salzillo pounced on the puck and made it 3-1.


Castleton converted on a power play at 11:17 of the third period, its lone extra-man marker in eight attempts. Sophomore Troy Taylor’s initial shot from the right point was stopped before senior Trevor Hanna got a slight touch on the rebound and Erwin found a vacated left side of the net. The Spartans went on another power play with exactly three minutes to go, and senior Ryan O’Toole won the ensuing faceoff but rung the right post in one quick sequence. Shroyer fired a wide-angle shot from the right circle at 18:43 that Johnson saved before diving to cover the rebound at the left side of the crease. Wagner was pulled in favor of an extra skater before the next faceoff, giving the visitors a two-man advantage for 17 seconds, but Salzillo and sophomore John Barry (South Boston, Mass./Deerfield Academy) both blocked shots in that time while no further attempts reached Johnson.


The Purple Knights are off until heading to the Middlebury College Holiday Classic on Dec. 30-31. They take on the hosts on the opening day at 1 p.m.