Sports

Crimson can’t scratch Steel ’17 as men’s ice hockey salvages road split

Bears fall to challenging Dartmouth team in Hanover, but rebound to notch shutout win over Crimson in Cambridge

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 24, 2014

Kyle Kramer ’17 skates along the boards. The first-year was promoted to Bruno’s top line recently and has responded by recording two assists in the team’s last three games.

The men’s hockey team lost to Dartmouth but beat Harvard to stay in eighth place in the ECAC this weekend, fighting for every point in a bid for home-ice advantage in the upcoming first round of the conference tournament.

The Bears’ two weekend points keep them one ahead of St. Lawrence, which also tallied a weekend split, and three ahead of Harvard, which went winless during its homestand.

 

Friday: Dartmouth 2, Brown 1 (OT)

Despite a game-tying third period goal from Matt Lorito ’15, the Bears (10-13-3, 7-11-1 ECAC) dropped a tightly contested road match in overtime against the Big Green (7-16-3, 6-12-1 ECAC) to briefly fall to ninth in the conference.

Dartmouth took the lead in the second period on a goal by sophomore Brad Schierhorn, but Lorito tied it up midway through the third on a power-play to send the game into overtime.

But just 51 seconds into the extra frame, Dartmouth’s Tyler Sikura found twine on the first shot attempt of overtime, ending the game in favor of the home team. Brown held the overall advantage in shots at 25-22, but Dartmouth goalie Charles Grant stood tall, making 24 saves.

The key to Dartmouth’s game was a stout defense, which dared Bruno to be the aggressor but gave up no easy chances.

“They frustrated us with their passiveness,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94.

“They packed in around the net and waited for us to make our mistakes,” said captain Dennis Robertson ’14.

The Big Green found success playing conservatively, keeping four or five players back in their own zone to defend against the Bears’ offensive incursions. This preparation allowed them to clog up any offensive momentum Bruno might have tried to initiate.

“They sat back a little more,” said Mark Naclerio ’16, adding that the Big Green’s defensive strategy made it “harder to get in the zone and get offense going.”

Dartmouth’s extremely guarded style of play caused the Bears a great deal of trouble, but the Crimson’s more aggressive approach made the next game totally different.

 

Saturday: Brown 2, Harvard 0

Bruno (11-13-3, 8-11-1) rebounded nicely from the previous night’s excruciating loss in Hanover, riding two second period goals to a 2-0 win over the Crimson (9-14-4, 5-11-4).

With their own win in Cambridge and a St. Lawrence loss, the Bears jumped back into eighth place and back into position to host a first round matchup in the conference tournament.

Nick Lappin ’16 notched a power-play goal 32 seconds into the second period to put Brown up 1-0, and Jake Goldberg ’14 sent in a wrist shot from the blue line 16 minutes later to double the lead. Tyler Steel ’17 posted the 30-save shutout, the first of his career. The Bears mustered just 19 shots on goal, including none for the final 14 minutes of the game, but they defended their lead successfully.

Unlike Dartmouth, the Crimson played a very assertive game. They attacked constantly, forcing the Bears to be somewhat conservative to parry Harvard’s many attacks.

“We came out and were taken aback by Harvard’s speed and aggressiveness and intensity in that first period,” Whittet said. “It kind of set us on our heels.”

The game began with a Harvard onslaught, as the Crimson dictated the pace and controlled the puck for most of the first period.

“The first period, they took it to us really good,” Whittet said. “We came out not really expecting Harvard to come out with that kind of speed and intensity, which we probably should have.”

Despite the heavy pressure, Brown played stout defense, allowing only 12 shots on goal, a respectable number and a significant advantage over the Bears’ meager seven.

In the second period, the Bears adapted to Harvard’s style and managed to even the playing field. Lappin’s early goal set the tone for the period, though Bruno was outshot by an 8-5 margin.

After Brown got off to a hot start in the third period, firing off seven shots in the first six minutes, the Crimson ratcheted up the intensity, not allowing another Brown shot on goal for the rest of the game. But the defense and Steel consistently weathered the storm, blanking Harvard.

Steel said he was happy to get the shutout, a major milestone in any goalie’s career.

“It feels good to get it out of the way,” he said, praising his teammates and describing the game as “a good team effort.”

Robertson, the captain and Brown’s strongest blueliner, said the difference between Friday’s loss and Saturday’s win was “as simple as execution.”

With two games to go in the regular season, the pressure is on the Bears to hold their position to qualify for home ice in the conference tournament. Bruno faces No. 3 Union (22-6-4, 16-3-1 ECAC) and Rensselaer (13-13-6, 7-8-5 ECAC) at home in the last weekend of the regular season play.

“We need these wins,” Robertson said.