Following a two-week hiatus from competition, the men’s hockey team earned its first shutout victory of the season against St. Lawrence University on the road Friday. The 2-0 win highlighted a pair of mixed results over the weekend as the Bears fell to No. 6 Clarkson University 4-1 Saturday.
Friday’s sweep marked the fourth career shutout for goaltender Gavin Nieto ’20, who recorded a clean slate of 25 saves to power Bruno to victory. With the win, the Bears clinched the season series against St. Lawrence after besting the Saints at home 3-2 Nov. 23.
“We had a lot of good individual efforts, which contributed to a solid team effort throughout the weekend,” said captain Zach Giuttari ’20. “Some younger guys showed really promising stuff … and some older guys played well, too, so there was good leadership. I think the team’s really coming together as we’re going into the end of the season.”
Brown 2, St. Lawrence 0
Friday night, Brent Beaudoin ’20 and Michael Maloney ’22 each netted goals in the third period to fuel Bruno (5-16-0, 5-9-0 ECAC) past the Saints (3-20-4, 1-13-1).
A scoreless first stanza saw Brown pressure the St. Lawrence net with 15 shots. The Bears gained momentum on a power play midway through the frame, but the Saints killed off the penalty to keep the tally even.
Bruno’s defense remained solid throughout the second period, holding St. Lawrence to five shots. Eight minutes into the stanza, Nieto made a key save at the top of the crease, collecting the puck in front of his chest to preserve the score.
The Bears crowded the St. Lawrence net on a 4-on-4 later in the frame, but Saints goaltender Francis Boisvert fended off the attack.
Thirteen minutes into the final period, Beaudoin finished a rebound on the power play to give Bruno the advantage. Maloney took the initial shot from the point before Giuttari followed up on the rebound, which Boisvert deflected across the crease. Beaudoin found the puck to the right of the net and beat a sliding Boisvert for the score.
Maloney secured the victory for the Bears with a shorthanded empty-net goal in the final minute, as Bruno killed off a 6-on-4 power play to close out the contest.
“Our specialty teams have been really good this year, and especially this weekend in a tight game like we had at St. Lawrence,” Nieto said. “We knew it might come down to a power-play goal on either side. We were able to find a way to come through and get a big time goal in the third, and we did a great job on the penalty kill late in the game.”
“Over the course of the season, we started out with some very lucrative special teams — they provided us with a lot of offense,” said Trey Dodd ’20. “Throughout the middle part of the season up to this point, we kind of relied on our penalty kill to provide that defensive spark, so being able to combine both of them now looking forward is really important.”
Brown 1, Clarkson 4
The following day, Colin Burston ’21 scored in the third period, but the Bears were unable to recover from an early three-goal deficit against the Golden Knights (19-6-2, 12-3-0).
Clarkson opened scoring four minutes into the first stanza as Josh Dunne converted on the power play to give the Knights an early lead. Nieto turned away several shots from Clarkson’s persistent offense midway through the period, but Zach Tsekos widened the advantage in the 18th minute, finishing a centering pass in front of the net.
Though the Bears began to gain offensive momentum and generate more shots on net in the second frame, Dunne broke through and scored his second power-play goal of the evening to extend Clarkson’s lead to three.
Bruno continued to apply pressure in the offensive zone, which culminated in a goal from Burston — his first of the season — seven and a half minutes into the final period. Connor Marshall ’23 sent a centering pass to Burston at the blue line, where Burston found the puck and fired a shot past Clarkson netminder Frank Marotte from the left circle. Samuli Niinisaari ’23 also recorded an assist on the play.
The teams exchanged blows for the remainder of the period, but Tsekos sealed the win for the Golden Knights with an empty-net goal.
The weekend’s contests follow Bruno’s 3-2 victory over Union College Jan. 18, which snapped a five-game winless streak over the winter break. As the team enters its final month of regular season competition, a key point of emphasis is consistency between shifts, periods and games, Nieto said.
“If we’re going to have success, it’s because we play a consistent 60-minute game that’s high-energy and physical,” Nieto said. “Over the past four games or so, we’ve done a good job of bringing that energy, that jump especially at the start of games.”
With eight contests remaining, the Bears seek to secure home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs, which is awarded to the fifth- through eighth-seeded teams in the ECAC. Brown is currently tenth in the conference standings, trailing Union and Yale by one and three points respectively.
“Coming down this home stretch our goal is to put ourselves in the position to have home ice advantage in the first round (of the playoffs),” Nieto said. “We need to jump two teams in order to do that, and I think it’s very possible.”
“We have to control what we can control — every game is of ultra importance,” Dodd said. “At this point in the season (we’re) almost looking at it like playoffs start now.”
The Bears return to Meehan Auditorium to host Princeton and No. 18 Quinnipiac University this weekend.