Following a road trip to New York last week, the men’s hockey team earned a lucrative three points over the weekend, eclipsing Princeton 4-3 in a comeback victory Friday and tying No. 16 Quinnipiac University 2-2 Saturday.
The results allowed the Bears to surpass Union College for ninth place in conference standings, a critical jump as the team seeks to secure home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs in March.
Brown 4, Princeton 3
Friday night, the Bears (6-16-1, 6-9-1 ECAC) scored four times in the third period to erase an early deficit and secure a pivotal win over their Ivy rivals. Tony Stillwell ’21, Luke Krys ’23, Tristan Crozier ’22 and Bradley Cocca ’23 each netted goals to fuel Bruno’s comeback effort and capture the victory.
“We work best when we’re working together as a team,” Stillwell said. “In the third period, we just stuck to our game plan and a lot of that came from just shooting the puck more and more effectively — a lot of our shots before were just missing the net, and then our next goal was just to get one goal, and we knew that they would maybe crack.”
Tigers defenseman Derek Topatigh gave Princeton (3-16-4, 1-12-3) an early lead in the opening stanza, scoring a pair of power-play goals in a five-minute span. The two tallies resembled one another, as Topatigh sent the puck through a screen from the right circle both times.
A scoreless second period saw the Bears outshoot the Tigers 7-6. Though the teams exchanged blows and pressured one another offensively, neither side would find the back of the net again until Bruno equalized the game with a pair of 4-on-4 goals in the third frame.
A critical top-shelf goal from Stillwell put the Bears on the board in the final stanza and ignited a spark in the team’s offense. Five minutes into the frame, Stillwell worked his way into the zone and launched a shot from the slot over the shoulder of Princeton goaltender Aidan Porter. Krys followed 48 seconds later, burying a backhand shot from behind the net to even the score.
The Tigers caught on to the Bears’ newfound energy four minutes later, as Matt Kellenberger scored on a one-timer to reclaim the lead. The goal inspired Bruno to play with greater offensive urgency, which culminated in a goal from Crozier midway through the stanza. Finding the puck at the left side of the crease, Crozier sent a backhanded shot neatly past Porter to even the tally.
Cocca sealed the comeback for the Bears three minutes later, finishing a rebound on the power play to clinch the victory.
“We’re getting scoring through the lineup,” said Assistant Captain Brent Beaudoin ’20. “We got a couple of big goals (against Princeton) from guys that aren’t always producing, so that’s huge for us. Everyone’s important, and I think a lot of guys played some big minutes.”
Brown 2, Quinnipiac 2 (OT)
The following day’s tie snapped the Bobcats’ three-game winning streak, which included a 5-0 victory over then-No.1 Cornell Jan. 31. Beaudoin netted a pair of goals to give the Bears an early lead before Quinnipiac (17-9-2, 10-4-2) tacked on two tallies of their own to send the teams into overtime.
“It was a great weekend,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94. “We’ve been very good the last three weekends in the league and that was a big point — (Quinnipiac is) an excellent hockey team. They’re a team that has a lot of skill, a lot of pace, they are very structured and well-coached, so for us to get a point is a good thing.”
Beaudoin put Brown on the board on the power play in the penultimate minute of a vigorous first period, tapping in a rebound after an initial shot from Stillwell and deflection from Cocca sent the puck to the right of the crease.
The middle frame was marked by penalties on both sides as the Bears outshot the Bobcats by a margin of 14-7. Bruno’s offensive persistence was highlighted by Beaudoin’s second goal of the evening, which gave the team a lead of two late in the stanza. Beaudoin again collected a rebound and beat Bobcats goaltender Keith Petruzzelli for the score, while Zach Giuttari ’20 and Crozier each recorded assists.
Quinnipiac’s Ethan de Jong responded with just three seconds remaining in the period, edging the puck over the goal line through a pile up in front of the net. The play was sent to video review before officials made the affirmative call, sending Bruno into the final stanza with a lead of one.
Alex Whelan scored the equalizer for the Bobcats just over two minutes into the third period. As the game grew increasingly physical, goaltender Gavin Nieto ’20 made a series of pivotal saves to preserve the score and force overtime.
The teams pressured one another in the extra frame, but each held off the other’s attack to keep the contest even.
When “there’s two good teams on the ice, the things such as special teams, face-offs, little things like making sure pucks get deep (and) winning battles end up winning or losing hockey games,” Whittet said. ”The guys were very good in those situations.”
With six regular season games remaining, Bruno’s primary aim is to secure home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs, which is granted to the fifth- through eighth- finishing teams in the conference. The Bears are currently ninth in the standings, trailing Yale by two points.
“Right now we’re on the cusp of breaking through,” Stillwell said. “It’s going to take a couple more weeks of consistency, and I think once everyone starts to wrap their arms around our upperclassmen, I think we’re going to take off for sure. It’s just going to take practice, habits and starting games fast — that’s always been our Achilles tendon.”
The team also emphasizes the importance of a diligent and consistent work ethic as it sets its sights on a pair of contests at Dartmouth and No. 17 Harvard this weekend.
“Every day you have to come to the table with the right attitude, and I think we’re getting a lot better at it,” Beaudoin said. “With practice you’ve got to come to the rink every day ready to go because that translates into games, so I think we’re doing a much better job playing as a five-man unit and playing consistently in all three zones.”
“In our last five (games), we are 3-1-1 so that’s a good growth moment, that’s a team that’s maturing (and) doing the right things down the stretch — that’s what you want as a coach, you want a team to continue to get better,” Whittet said. “I was happy with the way the guys are continuing to grow as individuals and as a team.”
The Bears return to action with their Ivy League road trip this weekend, before returning to Meehan Auditorium to host Colgate University Feb. 21 and No. 2 Cornell Feb. 22.