Sports

Men’s hockey caps season with unsuccessful playoff bid

Early deficits, shots-on-goal discrepancies haunt Bruno in final weekend of contests at Quinnipiac

By
senior staff writer
Sunday, March 5, 2017

The men’s hockey team closed out its season with a pair of losses to Quinnipiac University in the first round of the ECAC playoffs last weekend. Bruno was eliminated from the best-of-three series after falling to the Bobcats Friday and Saturday by tallies of 6-1 and 5-1, respectively.

The losses signal the end of a rocky season for the Bears (4-25-2, 3-18-1 ECAC), which entered the postseason as the twelfth seeded-team in the conference.

Friday night, the Bears were unable to recover from an early deficit against the Bobcats (21-13-2, 13-8-1), the fifth seed in the ECAC. Quinnipiac scored six unanswered goals against goaltender Gavin Nieto ’20 before Max Willman ’18 put Bruno on the board in the final six minutes of play.

Alex Whelan opened scoring 32 seconds into the first stanza, slotting in a backhanded shot past Nieto off a rebound. Nine minutes later, Landon Smith found the top shelf with a shot past Nieto’s shoulder from the left circle, giving the Bobcats a two-goal advantage entering the middle frame.

Tim Clifton scored the only goal of the second period off a pass from Whelan before Thomas Aldworth opened the Bobcats’ three-goal third period with a power play goal at 1:27.

Connor Clifton and K.J. Tiefenwerth each found the back of the net before Willman trimmed the deficit with six minutes remaining. Willman knocked the puck past netminder Andrew Shortridge for his eleventh goal of the season after collecting the rebound off a shot from Charlie Corcoran ’18. Sam Lafferty ’18 also picked up an assist on the play.

Nieto made 36 saves before giving way to Connor Maher ’18, who took to the crease with seven minutes left in the third stanza. Maher delivered a four-save performance to keep the score intact as the Bobcats outshot the Bears 46-20 in the contest.

“Quinnipiac’s a team where they shoot from any angle, even if they’re under pressure,” Nieto said. “There were times in the game when they were outshooting us, but we were playing pretty even.”

The following day, Bruno was unable to withstand significant offensive pressure from the Bobcats. Lafferty narrowed the deficit to one with a goal in the second period, but Quinnipiac responded with three consecutive goals to secure the win.

Smith notched a goal at 4:41 for the early lead before Tanner MacMaster scored on the power play to lift the Bobcats to a 2-0 advantage entering the second frame.

“They came out really strong in the first period of both games,” Nieto said. “They were able to come out and get a lot of shots early and put the pressure on before we were able to kind of get our grips on the situation.”

After winning the faceoff, Lafferty angled a shot from Ben Tegtmeyer ’18 toward the net at 15:16 in the second period for his 13th goal of the season. The Bobcats answered less than two minutes later at 17:05 with a goal from Tommy Schutt, doubling the lead. Bruno nearly closed the gap later in the period as Zach Giuttari ’20 had a power play goal waived off for high sticking with 4.3 seconds remaining.

Connor Clifton sent a wrist shot past Nieto six minutes into the final stanza to secure the Bobcats’ lead before Bo Pieper finished the contest with an empty-net goal in the final three minutes of play.

Nieto posted a career-high 42 saves in the loss, recording 20 saves in the first period alone. The Bobcats outshot Brown 47-25.

Following last year’s 5-19-7 (3-13-6) record, the Bears closed out their season with a total of four victories, 25 losses and one tie, including three wins, 20 losses and one draw in conference play.

“Everyone’s determined to turn this thing around next year,” Nieto said. “We’re all going to do what needs to be done to improve our game and be a top contender in our conference.”