The women’s hockey team fell in its final home games of the season this weekend, bringing the Bears’ (3-21-3, 1-16-3 ECAC) winless streak to 16 games.
Though the team failed to send its three seniors off with a victory in their last home weekend, Bruno mounted valiant comeback efforts in both games.
Brown welcomed Cornell to town Friday, looking to build off a 2-2 tie in the teams’ first matchup.
After a hooking penalty against Maddie Woo ’17, the Big Red (11-12-4, 7-9-4) cashed in on its only power play opportunity of the opening period. Briana Veerman fed a pass through a Brown defenseman in front of the net for Jess Brown, who snuck the puck past goaltender Monica Elvin ’17.
The score remained at 1-0 into the second period, but Bruno continued to struggle on special teams. Cornell’s Taylor Woods struck on a shorthanded chance, and Anna Zorn scored on the power play to make it 3-0.
After generating 18 shots over two periods, Brown went all out offensively in the third.
A tripping penalty gave Bruno a man advantage early in the period. Samantha Swanstrom ’18 found Hunter Davis ’16 at point-blank range, and she put Brown on the board.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Cornell countered with another 2-on-1 rush opportunity, restoring the Big Red’s three-goal lead.
Head Coach Bob Kenneally ’90 said that he had asked the defensemen to play more aggressively, which can often be a high-risk, high-reward strategy. The odd-man rushes on both of Woods’ goals mark the high-risk part of that proposition.
“We knew we would give up some (chances), but we thought the sacrifice of giving up odd-man rushes to actually generate some more offense was worth it,” he said.
Just 50 seconds later, Woo cashed in on one of those offensive chances on an assist from Erin Conway ’17.
Brown got several good chances in the final minutes and dominated puck possession. With 5:30 remaining, the Bears were given 30 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage. After Cornell killed off one of the penalties, Brown squandered the rest of their advantage after a too-many-men on the ice penalty.
Ultimately, the time would run out on Brown’s comeback effort, but not before the team outshot the Big Red 15-12 in the final period. Elvin finished with 37 saves.
Saturday’s contest against No. 10 Colgate (19-6-7, 11-4-5) was the final chance for the teams’ three seniors — Davis, Ali Rollandelli ’16 and Kelly Micholson ’16 — to suit up at Meehan Auditorium.
The trio were honored in a pre-game ceremony with family members by their sides. Their road sweaters hung on the glass behind the bench, along with homemade signs around the rink.
Bruno struggled to break the puck out early and was hurt by turnovers in the defensive zone, allowing the Raiders to strike first.
But the Bears seemed to find their passing rhythm, and the game turned into a back-and-forth contest similar to the third period against Cornell.
“The first period we had some tired legs, and I think they were so amped up before the game for senior day that mentally we just weren’t there,” Kenneally said. “I really emphasized in between periods that they had to move their feet, and we wanted to stretch the zone.”
Just 1:58 into the second, Colgate found the back of the net again, this time from a slap shot from Lauren Wildfang.
The score held at 2-0 until 10 minutes later, when Sam Donovan ’18 found Bridget Carey ’19 in the slot. Carey buried the chance to bring the Bears within one.
Minutes later, a shot from Colgate’s Shelby Perry trickled past Julianne Landry ’18 and into the net. Kenneally then made the decision to pull Landry and put Elvin in.
“It’s not always something that a coach wants to do. But I thought it would give us a shot in the arm, and it did,” Kenneally said.
That “shot in the arm” was almost immediate, as Woo would cut the deficit in half with her second goal of the weekend. Donovan sent a low shot towards the net that the junior tipped into the top corner of the net in textbook fashion.
The teams went into the third period with the score still 3-2. Elvin held strong in net, and Brown dominated possession. It appeared as if the Bears had the Raiders on the ropes, but the equalizer never came.
Despite falling short on the ice, both Kenneally and the seniors had positive reflections on the night.
“That Colgate team is one of the best teams we’ve played all year,” Kenneally said. “They have 18 wins coming in to this game, and I thought we actually outplayed them in the third period. I thought we had some quality chances, and I could not be prouder of this team.”
“Coming here seeing the locker room decorated, seeing our notes from our parents — it just means so much,” Micholson said. “I know all three of us cried.”
The seniors also took time to reflect on the four years they spent as part of the Brown program.
Micholson said she will remember the friendships she made on the team. “The bus rides, the road trips, pre-game meals — just the little things,” she said. “It’s not all about hockey. That’s what I want people to realize.”
“The seniors were instrumental in helping me change the culture of this team,” Kenneally said. “The culture in the past few years has been one of accepting not playing well and losing, and this team did not accept that all year. Their leadership was a big part of that.”
“It’s exciting for us to see a class like that develop so much and have such big roles on the team,” Rollandeli said. “It gives us hope for seasons to come that we can look back and know that we played a part in that. Brown has a lot of success to come.”