This was no small consolation.
Coming off a listless showing the night before, the Castleton men’s hockey team surprised No. 15 Curry 3-2 in overtime Saturday in the consolation round of the Castleton Invitational.
Alex Maunula scored on a quick rush when he roofed a shot past Justin Ketola with assists from Kyle Kazeroid and Sam Wood as the Spartan Arena home crowd, starved for success from its men’s team, saw it end a six-game winless drought in style.
The 2-6-1 Spartans had lost several competitive games against ranked teams or teams receiving points in the Division III national poll this season. They’d played well for parts of each game but did not get the push to get over the top.
Friday’s 6-1 loss to Nazareth might have provided that push in a roundabout manner.
“This is our tournament and we can’t go 0-2 in our tournament,” said senior forward Glenn Wiswell of the talk in the locker room.
“I honestly think we were pissed off. I think we expected to walk over (Nazareth).”
Sam Rennert and Kyle Kazeroid also scored as the Spartans came from behind twice. Junior goalie Luke Cohen started his first game of the season and made 31 saves.
“This is huge,” said Wiswell, who assisted the goal that made it 2-2. “It can be the start of something really good.”
Curry fell to 8-2-1.
It was a big confidence boost for the Spartans as they prepare to head to Northfield to take on top-ranked Norwich in New England Hockey Conference action on Friday.
The Spartans were a completely different animal than the team that showed little fire against Nazareth on Friday. Castleton skated hard, picked up its checking game several notches and played the Colonels of Milton, Mass., even statistically after the first period.
And Castleton coach Bill Silengo thinks the Spartans have even more in the tank.
“I didn’t think we played a very good game,” he said, alluding, for one, to defense in his own zone.
Some of the credit for that could go to Curry, a slick skating and passing team. The Colonels’ crisp puck movement and net crashing put on plenty of pressure in the Spartans end but Cohen made some difficult saves and never allowed Curry to build a two-goal lead.
The Colonels led 1-0 after a period and 2-1 through two.
Curry’s Nick Favaro scored 7:25 into the game on a screened shot from the left circle and two ensuing power plays for Castleton failed to yield a good shot on Justin Kertola (22 saves).
Then, with a delayed penalty in effect, Castleton scored in the second period with Jason Bilski assisting Rennert.
Castleton then went into the power play with a chance to take the lead but it backfired when Mic Curran stole the puck at the Castleton blue line, then skated in on Cohen and scored top shelf 1:01 after the Castleton goal.
A determined effort by Wiswell helped Castleton tie it in the third. Wisell was being hounded by two defenders in the right faceoff circle but he managed to keep the puck on his stick. He inched toward the net and shoveled it forward and Kazeroid poked in it.
Now Castleton will look to keep moving forward against a rival Norwich team that was 7-1 entering Saturday’s play.
“We hope this is the start of something good and not just a flash in the pan,” said Silengo.
“We feel like we’ve gotten better every weekend.”