Sports

Home weekend yields mixed results for men’s hockey

After beating Colgate, Bears fall to Cornell for first home loss since November

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 3, 2014

Taking on two ranked opponents in a critical home weekend, the men’s hockey team defeated No. 18 Colgate Friday, but fell to No. 11 Cornell despite a strong third period Saturday.

In any other conference, going 1-1 against two ranked teams might be considered an achievement, but in the merciless ECAC, it is of no help. Both teams within two points of the Bears in the standings, Yale and Rensselaer, also split their weekends to keep the standings in stasis. With a tough road ahead, the Bears will have to scrap for every point.

 

Brown 5, Colgate 2

To kick off the weekend, the Bears snapped Colgate’s (13-11-3, 9-5-1 ECAC) six-game winning streak with a dominant performance Friday.

Mark Naclerio ’16 led the way for Bruno (9-9-3, 6-7-1), scoring two goals and adding a beautiful assist through traffic to Nick Lappin ’16.

Strong neutral zone play was key for the Bears, who forced many Colgate turnovers leading to odd-man rushes. The game’s first goal came on one of those many breakaways, when a shot by Garnet Hathaway ’14 was blocked into the air but fell behind Colgate goalie Charlie Finn and into the net.

“We were able to gum up the neutral zone a lot,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94.

In addition to getting opportunities from defensive play, Bruno helped itself with great offensive execution, fueled by smooth passing.

“I thought the (defense) were doing a really good job of getting the puck up to us right away,” Lappin said. The forward took full advantage of the breaks the team manufactured, contributing two assists along with his goal.

Naclerio said he was also happy with how the offense performed, specifically on breakaways.

“It’s just about converting on those, and that can be the difference in a game,” he said.

Whittet had strong praise for his team after a well-played game on both ends. “I thought we played really intelligent, disciplined hockey,” he said.

Colgate’s head coach, Don Vaughan, also gave Brown credit. “They did a really good job of trapping through the middle,” he said. “We got beat.”

 

Cornell 2, Brown 1

In a game that was brutal in every sense of the word, the Bears fell narrowly Saturday to Cornell (12-4-5, 8-3-4) despite outshooting the Big Red 34-20.

Bruno found itself in a much different game than the matchup against Colgate. Cornell’s defenders dampened the offense at every turn, and the Bears could not convert on any of their few clear opportunities.

“It was an absolute battle,” Whittet said. “It was a war.”

Though Cornell made the offense’s job difficult, Bruno stepped up and did the same for the Big Red’s forwards. Cornell’s two goals were not conceded easily; the first was crammed in as the puck sat in the crease and every player tried to get at it, while the second came on a rare breakaway as Cole Bardreau went top-shelf on Tyler Steel ’17.

The difference in the game may have been the remarkable play of Cornell goaltender Andy Iles. He stonewalled every Bruno scoring chance, including an amazing stop on a two-man breakaway by Lappin and Naclerio. Whittet described the save as “ridiculous,” adding that Iles posted an impressive performance.

Bruno’s struggles on the power play also contributed to the loss. The Bears had five opportunities on the man advantage but failed to score on any, with their lone goal coming off a Naclerio tip-in with 1:51 left in the game.

“The power play was our Achilles heel,” Whittet said.

The Bears ratcheted up the intensity in the third period, outshooting Cornell by a massive 14-2 margin. They nearly tied the game at one early in the period when some frantic poking at the Cornell goalmouth ended with the puck in the net, but the referees had stopped play and did not review.

Whittet said he was not upset with how his team played, calling the performance “a good game,” but he said he was disappointed with the outcome.

“It was a chance for us to really put our mark on the season,” he said. “We didn’t get it done, but it wasn’t through lack of effort.”

Bruno’s streak of consecutive games against ranked opponents continues next weekend as the squad travels to No. 4 Union, the ECAC points leader, and then to Rensselaer, which is tied with Brown in the conference standings.