NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men's ice hockey team claimed the inaugural Wolk Cup title with a 4-1 victory over Castleton University in the Battle of Vermont rivalry game on Friday night at Kreitzberg Arena.
Norwich (7-3-1, 6-1-1 NEHC) continued its dominance over its intrastate rival, extending its lead in the all-time series to 24-5-1 and sweeping the season series from the Spartans after a 2-0 win last Friday night.
Freshman Coby Downs (Montclair, Calif.) scored a goal and tallied two assists to lead the Cadets' offense in the victory. Payton Baldillez (Arlington, Texas), Kale Kane (Kahnawke, Quebec) and Todd Jackson (Holly Springs, N.C.) each scored goals as well to round out Norwich's offensive leaders.
Senior goalie Braeden Ostepchuk (Lethbridge, Alberta) made 22 saves on 23 shot attempts to improve to 5-3-1 on the season in goal for the Cadets. It was also the 44th victory of his career.
Castleton (4-7-0, 1-7-0 NEHC) opened the scoring with a power play goal at the 13:45 mark with Caleb Fizer redirecting an initial shot by Troy Taylor into the net to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead. Dom Kuziak also picked up the secondary assist on the goal after he got a piece of Taylor's shot as well before Fizer was the final redirection for the goal.
Norwich answered at the 17:37 mark with Downs scoring his fifth goal of the season off an assist from Jackson to knot the score up at 1-1.
Norwich took its first lead of the game at the 10:57 mark of the second period with Baldillez scoring a power play goal with a wrist shot into the top corner of then net off an assist from Downs.
Castleton called timeout after Norwich made it 3-1 and then went on a five-minute power play after a NU player was whistled for a major and game disqualification. However, the NU defense and Ostepchuk stood tall to keep the Spartans off the scoreboard.
Jackson delivered the dagger with his fourth goal of the season off an assist from Downs at the 19:35 mark of the second period to cap the scoring for the game.
Ryan Mulder came on to relieve Pickrell after the third NU goal. Mulder made 14 saves on 15 shots. Pickrell finished with 19 saves on 22 shots.
Friday night's game featured the Norwich men's hockey program's annual Teddy Bear Toss night with hundreds of teddy bears being tossed onto the ice that will now be donated to Toys for Tots.
Norwich is now off until Jan. 5 when it hosts the annual Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament at Kreitzberg Arena. The Cadets will host Northland at 7 p.m. in the second game after University of New England and SUNY Geneseo play at 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 5. The winners will meet in the championship at 7 p.m. on Saturday with the consolation scheduled for 4 p.m.