The men’s hockey team defeated No. 5 Quinnipiac University, the top-seeded team in the ECAC, in two games of a best-of-three quarterfinal series this weekend to advance to the semifinals for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
After eliminating Princeton in the first playoff round last weekend, the Bears upset the Bobcats 2-1 in overtime Friday before scoring four goals in the third period to earn a 4-3 comeback victory Saturday.
“The team performed tremendously — we swept the top team in our conference and the number five team in the country in their building, and that’s a huge accomplishment,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94.
The Bears face Cornell in the semifinals of the ECAC Tournament at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York Friday. The winner will advance to the championship game the following night.
Brown 2, Quinnipiac 1 (OT)
Friday night, Brent Beaudoin ’20 tied the game with 21 seconds remaining in regulation, before Jack Gessert ’20 notched the golden goal late in overtime to secure victory for Bruno (15-13-5) in the series opener.
Following a scoreless first period in which the Bears killed off a critical five-minute major, Karlis Cukste put the Bobcats (25-9-2) on the board with a goal early in the second stanza.
Bruno killed off another penalty later in the frame to preserve the score, before mounting an offensive surge and outshooting Quinnipiac 12-5 in the third.
After Brown pulled netminder Gavin Nieto ’20 for an extra skater with just over a minute remaining in regulation, Beaudoin equalized the contest to send the teams into overtime. Positioned just outside the right circle, Beaudoin collected the puck off a pass from Zach Giuttari ’20 and sent a smooth shot past Quinnipiac goaltender Andrew Shortridge for the late tally.
Bruno pressured the Quinnipiac net in overtime, outshooting the Bobcats 14-7. With three minutes remaining, Colin Burston ’21 fired a shot that bounced off the boards toward the front of the goal, where Gessert drove the puck past Shortridge backhanded to secure the win.
Brown 4, Quinnipiac 3
The following night saw the Bears mount a four-goal comeback in the third period to stun the Bobcats and secure the series sweep. Tommy Marchin ’19 recorded a pair of goals, including the game-winner, while Max Gottlieb ’19 and Beaudoin also scored in the victory.
The team’s mindset of resilience and confidence was a major factor in the win, Marchin said.
“After the second period (when) we were down two goals, we weren’t afraid at all and we weren’t nervous at all — we were still just as confident coming in,” Marchin said. “We had to keep doing what we were doing correctly and tighten some things up, and everyone had faith that we were definitely in the game.”
Alex Whelan opened scoring for Quinnipiac just over a minute into the first stanza, finding the back of the net on the team’s first shot of the contest. Whelan doubled the lead late in the period, burying a rebound to give the Bobcats a 2-0 advantage entering the first intermission.
Following a scoreless second period, the Bears scored a pair of goals in the opening two minutes of the final stanza to level the tally and begin their offensive surge. At 1:22, Gottlieb gathered a feed from Burston at the top of the left circle and launched a shot past Shortridge to give Bruno its first of the evening. Marchin added a goal 32 seconds later, finishing a rebound in the crease for the equalizer. Chris Berger ’21 and Giuttari recorded assists on the play.
Ten minutes later, Beaudoin collected the puck in the neutral zone just as a Brown penalty expired and scored on a breakaway to reclaim the lead. Marchin struck again in the 14th minute, beating Shortridge on a shot from the slot after the Bears won a faceoff in the Quinnipiac zone.
Craig Martin notched an extra-attacker goal with two minutes remaining, but the Bears fended off the Bobcats to secure the win and punch their ticket to the semifinals.
The evening was also highlighted by several critical saves from Nieto, who frustrated Quinnipiac with 28 stops to keep Bruno’s tournament bid alive.
“Gavin in net was really, really good both nights — he kept us in it,” Gessert said. “We outshot them a lot on Friday night, but that doesn’t tell the full story. He definitely kept us in it Friday night, and then made some huge saves last night too. It could have easily been three or four nothing before we started the third period.”
Brown’s visit to Lake Placid this weekend marks its first appearance in the semifinal round of the ECAC Tournament since 2013, when the team defeated Quinnipiac to play in the championship game against Union College.
“Two more wins and we win the conference and go on to the national tournament,” Gessert said. “That’s something that everybody on our team is really striving for and pushing for.”
If the team advances and takes home the crown on Saturday, it will achieve a first for the program. Since becoming a member of the ECAC’s hockey division at its founding in 1961, Brown has never won a conference championship. As the Bears prepare to take the ice at Herb Brooks Arena, the title is more tangible than ever.
“It’s a great hockey team — they play the game very hard. They play the game with a ton of grit and a ton of resolve and I truly believe it’s a team that’s built to win now,” Whittet said. “We’re going to give everything in our power to come back with Brown’s first ECAC championship.”
The Bears face off against Cornell in Lake Placid Friday. Puck drop is at 4 p.m.