The men’s hockey team opened its season with a home-and-home series against Yale this weekend, earning a 5-1 victory at home Saturday after falling to the Bulldogs 3-2 in a close contest on the road Friday.
Saturday night, Justin Jallen ’22 scored the first hat trick of his career to power Bruno past its Ivy League rival. The Bears scored four power-play goals in the win, which also marked the 100th career victory for Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94 in his 11th season at the helm of the program.
Brown 2, Yale 3
Friday night, forwards Nathan Plessis ’23 and Bradley Cocca ’23 each scored their first career goals to bring the Bears (1-1) within one of the Bulldogs (1-1), but Bruno was edged 3-2 in the season opener at Ingalls Rink.
Yale opened scoring with a pair of goals midway through the first period. In the 11th minute, goaltender Gavin Nieto ’20 made the initial butterfly save on a bid from Yale forward Justin Pearson, but Curtis Hall finished the rebound in front of the crease to put the Bulldogs on the board. Mitchell Smith doubled Yale’s advantage two minutes later, sending a shot from the slot into the left corner of the net.
The Bears trimmed the Bulldogs’ lead to one with their first goal of the evening in the 14th minute. After collecting a feed from Chris Berger ’21 in the slot, Plessis fired a shot past Yale netminder Corbin Kaczperski for Bruno’s first tally of the season. Tristan Crozier ’22 also earned an assist on the play.
Yale extended its lead again as Hall posted his second goal of the contest during a four-on-four eight minutes into the second period. But Bruno answered back, notching a power-play goal in the middle of the third stanza to bring the game within one. Waiting at the point, Cocca redirected a pass from Zach Giuttari ’20 past Kaczperski for his first career goal with the Bears.
Bruno pulled Nieto with two minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs were able to hold off the attack to secure the win. Nieto made 33 saves in the contest.
Brown 5, Yale 1
The following day saw the Bears bounce back with a convincing victory over the Bulldogs. In addition to Jallen’s hat trick, Cocca and Berger also notched tallies for Bruno, while Michael Maloney ’22 and Giuttari posted three and two assists, respectively.
“Friday was a little disappointing — we didn’t play to our strengths and what we’re capable of, but Saturday we answered perfectly and showed them what Brown hockey’s actually like,” Cocca said.
Jallen put the Bears on the board late in the first period. After taking advantage of a turnover behind the net, Maloney sent the puck to Jallen, who launched a shot past Kaczperski from the slot.
Bruno killed off a pair of critical penalties to preserve its lead midway through the second stanza. Though Yale’s Cole Donhauser scored unassisted to equalize the contest in the 14th minute, the Bears quickly reclaimed the advantage with a pair of power-play goals late in the frame. Jallen backhanded a rebound past Kaczperski through traffic in front of the net at 16:22, before Berger tapped in another rebound to put Brown up 3-1 three minutes later.
Killing the five-on-three “was a big turning point in the game to get the momentum back,” Jallen said. “Winning special teams is huge, and if you win the special teams, you usually win the game. If we can keep doing it on the penalty kill and the power play, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Jallen sealed his hat trick in the second minute of the third period, burying a centering feed from Maloney. Cocca followed later in the stanza, finishing a set up from Giuttari and Crozier to give the Bears a final advantage of 5-1.
“We did a lot of things that would enable us to have success,” Whittet said. “We put them on their heels a little bit, I thought we really had the puck a large portion of that game, and thought we were excellent in most situations tonight — we played the type of hockey we have to play.”
The Bears’ special teams featured heavily in the contests, as the power play went 5-for-9 and penalty kill had a 100 percent success rate over the weekend.
“Last year our power play numbers were really low, so to get off to a hot start is big,” Jallen said. “We have some good chemistry right now, and hopefully we can keep building on it.”
The team also saw production from its first-year class of 10, which has added variety and versatility to its roster, Whittet said.
“We have some different elements this year with some of the young guys,” Whittet said. “They’ve really helped to elevate us and give us a little bit of depth that maybe we didn’t have in the past.”
The Bears seek to carry the momentum from Saturday’s victory forward as they lace up their skates this weekend at No. 4 Cornell and Colgate University. Face-off is at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday.