Following a road trip to Dartmouth and Harvard last week, the men’s hockey team closed out its regular season home slate this weekend, defeating Colgate University 3-1 Friday and falling to No. 2 Cornell 3-0 Saturday.
With two regular season contests remaining against Quinnipiac University and Princeton, the Bears are currently ninth in the conference standings, trailing Colgate by three points. Friday’s victory against the Raiders allowed the Bears to edge closer to achieving home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs, which is granted to the fifth- through eighth-seeded teams in the league.
Brown 3, Colgate 1
Friday night, Colin Burston ’21, Trey Dodd ’20 and Cole Quisenberry ’23 each scored in the final two periods to fuel Bruno (7-18-2, 7-11-2 ECAC) to victory. The pivotal win secured the season sweep over the Raiders (10-16-6, 8-9-3). The Bears previously toppled the team on the road 4-1 Nov. 9.
“We stuck with the process, worked extremely hard and got a really, really important win,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94. “We’re trying to catch teams ahead of us and we need to win these hockey games. That was a good start to the weekend, but I think we deserved to win. We outplayed them the whole game.”
The Bears pressured the Colgate net from the drop of the puck, outshooting the Raiders 7-6 in a scoreless opening stanza. Just under two minutes into the frame, Dodd threatened to give Brown an early lead, launching a shot from the left circle that ricocheted off the pipe.
Goaltender Gavin Nieto ’20 made a series of key saves — including a diving stop early in the first period — to preserve the 0-0 scoreline before Burston gave the Bears an advantage four and a half minutes into the second stanza. After Michael Maloney ’22 took an initial shot, a Colgate defenseman tipped the puck out towards the right point, where Burston was waiting. Burston collected the puck and found the back of the net on a smooth shot to put Bruno on the board.
The Bears maintained the momentum throughout the period, as Dodd scored an unassisted shorthanded goal 11 minutes into the frame to extend the lead to two. After gathering the puck in the Colgate zone, Dodd worked his way down the ice, took a quick shot and then buried a loose puck from his own rebound for the tally.
Colgate answered just over a minute later when Paul McAvoy converted on a power play to trim Bruno’s advantage to one. It would be the only time that the Raiders’ power play struck during the contest, as the Bears proceeded to kill three consecutive penalties in the final stanza.
Bruno’s offensive persistence continued throughout the evening, culminating in a goal from Quisenberry 13 minutes into the third period. Justin Jallen ’22 redirected a feed from Dorian Dawson ’22 across the crease to Quisenberry, who sent the puck neatly past Colgate netminder Andrew Farrier to secure the victory for Brown.
The Bears cited the depth in their roster as a positive as they attempt to maximize offensive production and climb up the conference standings ahead of the playoffs.
“It’s really hard when you’re relying on one line to produce for you,” Burston said. “The fact that everyone can just chip in whenever they can ... really helps winning games.”
“We have struggled not to generate offense — I think we’ve generated shots and opportunities — but we’ve struggled to generate goals off that offense, off that possession,” Whittet said. Now “you’re seeing a young team that’s maturing, that’s much more confident around the net … the young guys are coming along and contributing, which is nice to see.”
Cornell 3, Brown 0
Saturday’s contest, which also served as the team’s Senior Night celebration, saw the Bears face off against the conference leaders in a packed Meehan Auditorium.
Bruno held the Big Red (21-2-4, 16-2-2) to one goal for the first two periods and pressured the team with several good looks on net, but Cornell tacked on a pair of goals in a five-minute span in the final stanza to clinch the shutout.
Forward Matt Stienburg opened scoring for the visitors midway through the first frame, tapping in a feed from Jeff Malott to the left of the crease.
Cornell’s stubborn defense hindered the Bears from generating shot opportunities on net, but Bruno began to break through on a power play late in the period as Quisenberry and Jallen forced Big Red goaltender Matthew Galajda to make a pair of consecutive saves.
Brown gained momentum and peppered the Cornell net with shots in the second stanza, as both teams notched eight attempts on goal apiece in the scoreless frame. Nieto denied a vigorous Big Red offense with several athletic saves to keep the Bears within one of their Ivy opponents.
Cornell struck again just under 13 minutes into the final period, as Sam Malinski’s feed hit Kyle Betts and then bounded off of a Brown player’s skate into the net. Morgan Barron cemented the lead five minutes later with an empty net goal, setting the final tally at 3-0.
As the Bears prepare for playoff competition, they look to their ability to compete with elite teams like Cornell as a source of confidence and composure. Bruno’s opponent for the first round will be determined by the results of this coming weekend’s contests around the conference.
“We’re all pretty positive right now,” Nieto said. “We realize that we’re coming down to the last few games and we’re playing well, so there’s a high confidence we’re playing with right now. We know that we can play with some of the best teams in the league.”
“Right now it’s a really important time in the season going into playoffs, and I think we’re clicking together and we’re all doing our jobs,” Burston said. “Our mentality right now is to take every game one at a time — just focus on what we can control and try to listen to our coaches.”
Achieving home ice advantage remains an aim for the team, which will require wins against both Quinnipiac University and Princeton on the road this weekend to surpass the Raiders for eighth place in the league.
“There’s still a chance at having home ice advantage for playoffs, so our goal is to go in and get four points next weekend at Quinnipiac and Princeton, and then we’ll see where the cards lie,” Nieto said. “From there, we’ll have some good momentum heading into playoffs and hopefully we do what we did last year and go on a little run … you never know what can happen.”
The Bears close out the regular season on the road against Quinnipiac and Princeton this weekend.