Southern Maine Downs Castleton 8-4

Junior G Paul Léger
Junior G Paul Léger
Mathieu Nets First Career Hat Trick

            RUTLAND, Vt. -- The University of Southern Maine men's ice hockey team, sparked by senior captain Tyler Mathieu's (Stillwater Lake, N.S.) hat trick, scored a season-high eight goals to defeat Castleton University 8-4 in a New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) game Friday night at Spartan Arena.

            The win improved the Huskies' record to 5-16-3 overall and 4-12-1 in NEHC play, and gave them a sweep of the teams regular-season home-and-home series.  The Spartans, needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, slipped to 4-16-4 overall and 2-13-2 in conference play.

            Mathieu is the first USM player to score three goals in a game since Angelo Vranchas accomplished the feat against Salem State University on November 26, 2013.

            Freshman Brendan Dowler (New Preston, Conn.) also scored twice for the Huskies.  Rookies Michael Green (Baie d'Urfã, Que.) and Derek Tillotson (Bow, N.H.) and junior Brock Padgham, (Chilliwack, B.C.) had the other USM goals.  Green also had two assists, and sophomore Adam Papayoanou (Valencia, Calif.) had three assists.

            Junior goalie Paul Léger (Blainville, Que.) overcame a shaky start to stop 28 shots, including 18 in the third period.

            Freshman Anton Tarvainen (Sipoo, Finland), junior Jacob Erwin (Port Dover, Ont.), freshman Jason Bilski (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and sophomore Glenn Wiswell (Berwick, Maine) had the Spartan goals.  Senior Wyatt Pickrell (Newmarket, Ont.) made 11 saves and surrendered four goals before being lifted for freshman Kyle Alaverdy (Grand Falls-Windsor, Nfld.).  Alaverdy allowed three goals and stopped 17 shots.

            The Huskies fell behind 2-0 on goals from Tarvainen and Erwin before the game was four minutes old.  Dowler put the Huskies on the board with his first goal at 4:30.

            Bilski's goal restored the Spartans' two-goal lead at 13:53, but Mathieu countered with his first marker of the night at 15:59.

            Southern Maine took advantage of two power plays early in the second period to take a 4-3 lead.  Green scored at 2:07 to tie the game, and Mathieu lit the lamp at 3:02 to give the Huskies the lead.  Padgham netted what proved to be the game-winning goal at 12:26, and Tillotson's first goal of the season at 16:08 made it five consecutive USM goals and a 6-3 lead.  Wiswell scored a power-play goal at 18:06 to make it 6-4 after two periods.

            In a penalty-filled third period, the Huskies would net the only goals.  Mathieu completed his hat trick with a power-play goal at 6:38, and Dowler scored an empty-net goal at 17:12.  Castleton piled up an 18-11 advantage in shots on goal, but was unable to slip the puck past Léger.

            Southern Maine closes the regular season on Saturday (4 p.m.) playing at Norwich University.  Castleton hosts New England College on Saturday (4 p.m.).

            The top eight teams in the NEHC final standings after Saturday's games advance to playoffs.  The first-round pairings will be announced Sunday.