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Road woes for men's hockey

In two games over the weekend, the men's hockey team dug itself a hole in the first period and was unable to recover, resulting in two Eastern College Athletic Conference losses. The Bears (1-14-4, 1-8-3 ECAC) took a 4-1 loss against Cornell on Friday night, followed by a 5-0 loss to Colgate on Saturday.

The Bears played their first game of the weekend at Lynah Rink at Cornell, a place that Brown Head Coach Roger Grillo called "one of the best atmospheres in all of college sports." But the Bears struggled from the beginning, due in large part to disappointing play in power play situations. After a Brown penalty midway through the first period, the Bears looked to be in good position to kill the power play, but with 17 seconds left in the man-advantage, the Big Red found the back of the net with a high shot from the bottom of the left face-off circle, to put Bruno behind 1-0 at 14:40. Less than four minutes later, Cornell tacked on another goal to give the Bears a 2-0 deficit at the end of the opening frame.

Things started to brighten in the second period, in which Brown stayed out of the penalty box entirely, a feat which helped them keep the Big Red scoreless in the frame. The Bears out-shot Cornell 10-8, but failed to take advantage of power play opportunities, including a 5-on-3 advantage midway through the period. But with just over five minutes remaining in the period, Bruno finally cut into Cornell's lead, when Matt Vokes '09 crashed the net after a shot by Ryan Garbutt '09 was deflected by the goalkeeper. Vokes picked up the loose puck and fired a shot past the goalie to cut the lead to 2-1.

"We played hard, we played well and we battled to make it a 2-1 game," Grillo said. "We had a great opportunity to tie the game with a five-on-three, but we couldn't quite get it done."

Brown's comeback effort was short-lived, as Cornell put the game away in the final period. The Big Red capitalized on a power play opportunity to go ahead 3-1 just 3:41 into the period, and then added another goal on a breakaway with 2:54 left in the game, resulting in the final score of 4-1.

The Bears headed to Colgate looking to reverse their luck on Saturday, and had many chances to take control from the beginning. Brown had three first-period power plays, but Bruno was only able to manage two shots on goal with the man advantage. The rest of the game told a similar story, with the Bears failing to convert on all six of their power plays.

"It's something that's been a problem for us all year. Sometimes it comes down to effort, sometimes it comes down to capitalizing, and sometimes it's the other goaltender making big saves," Grillo said. "You can do everything right with moving the puck, but you still have to finish."

Colgate's offense, on the other hand, had no trouble finding the back of the net, and the Raiders took the lead with 9:35 remaining in the first period. Then, in the final minutes of the frame, Colgate found itself with a man advantage and did what Brown could not, capitalizing on the opportunity to take a 2-0 lead on a shot from the top of the right face-off circle.

In the second period, the Raiders increased their lead at 5:09, again on a power play, when a low shot from the slot got past goalie Dan Rosen '10 to put Brown in a three-goal deficit. Brown's defense made several stops, including killing a 79-second 5-on-3 Colgate advantage. But once again, with the clock winding down, the Raiders struck, as an even-handed goal from the top of the left face-off circle gave them a 4-0 lead to carry into the third period.

The Bears were whistled for another penalty early in the final frame, and just 1:23 in, Colgate added another goal to put the score at 5-0, where it remained for the rest of the game.

This weekend's two losses extend Brown's losing streak to six games, and the team's winless streak to 15 games, dating back to Nov. 10, a stretch in which the Bears have gone 0-13-2. This season, the Bears have averaged just 1.8 goals per game, by far the lowest average among all ECAC teams. Part of the problem has been the lack of clear offensive leadership this season, as many upperclassmen have struggled to score goals.

"Some of the upperclassmen aren't having the kind of season they'd like," Grillo said. "We have five seniors, who are great kids, and good hockey players ... and they're hurting as much if not more than the other guys on the team, and they're working their tails off."

Despite the struggles thus far, the team will remain focused on improving its play heading into the postseason.

"The ultimate goal is to start playing hockey at the level we're capable of, and we've got to make sure we're giving a hard, consistent effort," Grillo said. "It's about this year, it's not about the future ... and the entire team has to get its act together, so to speak."

The team will look to turn things around when they host Harvard at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, followed by Dartmouth at 4 p.m. on Saturday, both at Meehan Auditorium.


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