Castleton University women’s hockey coach Tim McAuliffe stresses to his team to do the simple things well.
One of those things is crashing the net and the Spartans executed that well in Friday night’s 3-2 win against Salem State at Spartan Arena.
“Simple hockey, get to the net, that’s it,” McAuliffe said. “We want the dirty, greasy goals. Ninety percent of the goals come from rebounds around the net. When we get in trouble is when we start playing a selfish style of hockey and when we have success it’s everyone going to the net, just simple plays.”
Castleton flashed its ability in that area quickly in the opening period. Ryanne Mix crashed the net on the right side and buried a rebound attempt.
The Spartans dominated the puck for most of the first and second periods and held the Vikings to just two shots on goal heading into the third.
Castleton was especially strong in the second period, where the Spartans kept the puck in the attacking zone for much of the 20 minutes.
Castleton doubled its lead with 1:42 left in the second on a goal from captain Courtney Gauthier attacking the net up the middle of the ice. Emery Bonner and Brooke Greenwood picked up assists.
“I didn’t think we had a great first period, but the second period was absolutely phenomenal,” McAuliffe said.
It was in the third period where things got a little dicey for the Spartans.
“The third period was just terrible,” McAuliffe said. “Tons to improve on and tons to fix.”
A couple defensive miscues allowed for Salem to stay in the game in the third.
Castleton didn’t clean up a loose puck on the right side of the crease after a Vikings shot and Makayla McGrath was there to tuck it around Spartans goalie Kirsten DiCicco with 15:42 to play.
Late in the period, Alexa Turner scored on a similar play for Salem.
“I’ll take a win any day of the week, but Salem is a good team that I know is really well-coached,” McAuliffe said. “They were going to bring it and it showed that they didn’t give up.”
Penalties were a big issue for the Spartans throughout Friday’s contest and most evidently in the third period. The McGrath goal came when Castleton was a skater down.
A bright spot in the third period was the Spartans showing a flash of what they were doing earlier in the game, making the simple hockey play. It resulted in a goal that ended up being important.
Defender Katherine Campoli put a shot on goal straight on from just inside the blue line. Greenwood was in the right spot around the goal and got her stick on it to make it 3-1 at that point in the period.
“You work it low to high and then get bodies to the net. Katherine did a great job and then Brooke got a piece of it,” McAuliffe said.
Salem goaltender Kaia Hollingsworth made 23 saves, while DiCicco had five stops for the Spartans.
Castleton (4-2) will look to play a full 60 minutes of strong hockey Saturday with Southern Maine coming to town for a 3 p.m. puck drop at Spartan Arena.
The Huskies (5-2) are riding a three-game win streak after Friday’s 3-0 win against Plymouth State.