Castleton Athletics offers this look at the weekend tournament...
Castleton will host the ninth annual Rutland Herald Invitational on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving at Spartan Arena. Along with the Spartans, the tournament will feature the Brockport Golden Eagles, Tufts Jumbos and Western New England Golden Bears, who will be making their first appearance in the invitational.
The opening game of the tournament will take place on Friday afternoon when Tufts squares off with Western New England at 3:45 pm, while Castleton versus Brockport will feature in the nightcap at 7 pm. The consolation contest will be played on Saturday at 3:45 pm followed by the championship game at 7 pm.
Tufts vs. Western New England
The Golden Bears make their tournament debut in the opening game of the invitational when they face the Jumbos on Friday. In last year's version, Tufts fell in the first round before knocking off Castleton in the consolation game, 4-3.
Western New England comes into Friday's contest sporting a 0-7 (0-5 ECAC Northeast) record following a 3-1 loss to Salve Regina this past weekend.
So far this season, the Golden Bears have struggled in the offensive zone, compiling just 16 points with eight goals in seven games. Chris Lembo has been the squad's leading scorer with three points (2g, 1a). David DiSchiavi, Braedan Pearl and Brian Hurley have added two points (1g, 1a) apiece, while Connor Eckenrod has provided a pair of helpers.
Austin Keiser has been the main goalie in net this year with a 0-6 record. In seven appearances, the senior netminder has produced 147 saves with an .896 save percentage and 3.75 GAA. Cole Semchak and Scott Brown have provided cover for Keiser, recording a joint 85 saves in three total appearances.
The Jumbos opened their 2015-16 season this past weekend, falling at Trinity in the opener 3-2 before playing to a 1-1, overtime draw at Wesleyan on Saturday.
In those two games, Tufts produced 49 shots with three goals and four assists. Matt Pugh scored his first goal of the season over the weekend following a 15-point season last year, while Mike Leary matched his 2014-15 scoring total after netting the lone Jumbo goal in the overtime draw with Wesleyan. David Lackner, meanwhile, netted the third Tufts score with a shorthanded, unassisted effort.
Mason Pulde and Mik Nunges have each received a start in net this year. Pulde returns after going 7-11-2 last season with a .914 save percentage and 3.01 GAA. The junior started the season opener against the Bantams, producing 36 saves with a .923 save percentage. Nunges, on the other hand, stopped 46 of the 47 shots that he faced versus the Cardinals with a .979 save percentage, as Tufts picked up its positive result of the year.
Castleton vs. Brockport
The Golden Eagles head into the weekend tournament looking to repeat as champions. Last year, Brockport faced off with Manhattanville in the championship game, beating the Valiants 4-3. The Spartans, meanwhile, have picked up just two wins in their past three tournaments and are looking to rebound after going 0-2 in last year's edition.
Castleton (0-6-1, 0-5-1) enters play looking to pick up its first win of the season after falling at Norwich, 2-1. The Spartans held a late, 1-0 lead in the contest after Will Laking's third-period goal, but the Cadets rallied with two scores in the final 3:15 of play to complete the comeback victory.
Offensively, Castleton has manufactured 24 points with ten goals in its first seven games. Laking has been the squad's top scorer this season with six points from four goals and two assists. Patrick Thornton sits second on the team with three points (1g, 2a), while Charles Bando and Derek Gingera have provided one goal and one assist apiece.
Brody Wagner and Ryan Mulder have shared the goaltending duties so far. Wagner holds a 0-2-1 record after tallying a 2.57 GAA, .895 save percentage and 94 saves in six appearances. Mulder, meanwhile, is 0-4 with a 4.12 GAA and .853 save percentage.
Brockport heads into Friday's matchup with a 3-4 (3-4 SUNYAC) mark following a 6-4 defeat at Buffalo St. this past Saturday.
This season, the Golden Eagles have scored 25 times and averaged 3.57 goals per game, which ranks 21st nationally. Chase Nieuwendyk, Tim Kielich and Ryan Kangas have anchored the Brockport attack. Nieuwendyk has posted team-highs in points (9) and goals (5) to go along with four assists, while Kielich and Kangas have added seven points apiece. Other major contributors include Aiden Verbeke and Chris Luke, who have manufactured a joint ten assists so far.
Jared Lockhurst and Cole Burack have split time in net. Lockhurst holds a 1-3 mark after producing a .888 save percentage and 3.56 GAA in five appearances, while Burack is 1-1 with a .880 save percentage and 66 saves.
Players to Watch
Trevor Hanna – Castleton – F: Hanna has yet to make his mark offensively in 2015-16 after leading all Castleton rookies in scoring with 12 points (6g, 6a) last year. The sophomore provided four goals and five assists in the final ten games of last season to help the squad reach the conference tournament semifinals. If Hanna plays well this week, he could provide the offensive spark the Spartans need to reach the championship game for the first time since 2012.
Chase Nieuwendyk – Brockport – F: Last season's RHI MVP is the anchor of Brockport's offense. He leads the team in scoring with nine points from five goals and four assists, and in last year's tourney, he willed the team to the championship with three goals and two assists. If Nieuwendyk repeats that form, he could spur the Golden Eagles to their second straight title.
Mason Pulde – Tufts – G: Pulde appeared in 20 of Tufts' 26 games last year, posting a 7-11-2 record with a .914 save percentage and 3.01 GAA. However, in his first start of 2015, the junior struggled, giving up three goals with 36 saves in a loss to Trinity. If Pulde comes into form this weekend, expect the Jumbos to feature in the championship game on Saturday.
Chris Lembo – Western New England – F: Lembo is WNE's top returning scorer after posting six goals and eight assists in 2014-15. He's maintained that form so far this year, posting a team-best three points from two goals and one assist. If he can find the back of the net in Spartan Arena, watch out for the Golden Bears to make some noise in their RHI debut.