Following a pair of contests against Colgate and Cornell last week, the Bears men’s hockey team closed out the regular season with a 2-1 loss against No. 14 Quinnipiac and 2-0 shutout victory over Princeton this weekend.
The Bears finished ninth in the Eastern College Athletic Conference standings and are slated to face off against eighth-seeded Colgate on the road in the first round of the playoffs Friday. The winner of the best-of-three series will advance to the quarterfinals.
Brown 1, Quinnipiac 2
Friday night, Joachim Weberg ’21 scored early in the second period to tie the game, but the Bobcats (21-11-2, 14-6-2 ECAC) tacked on a goal late in the final stanza to clinch the victory.
The Bears (8-19-2, 8-12-2) overcame some early drawbacks in the opening frame, killing a pair of consecutive penalties in the first five minutes of the contest. Though Bruno began to apply greater pressure in the offensive zone, Quinnipiac opened scoring midway through the period when Wyatt Bongiovanni deflected the puck into the net off of a pass from Odeen Tufto at the point.
Brown answered just over a minute into the second period, when Weberg scored a critical top-shelf goal to equalize the contest. Trey Dodd ’20 collected the puck off of a feed from Brent Beaudoin ’20 and worked his way toward the net, sending a pass across the crease to Weberg. The forward quickly launched a shot over the shoulder of Bobcats goaltender Keith Petruzzelli to even the tally.
The period was also highlighted by several key saves from Brown goaltender Gavin Nieto ’20, who stopped all 16 shots in the frame to preserve the score. He would finish the contest with 32 saves in total.
Though Bruno killed off a penalty to keep the tally even midway through the final period, Quinnipiac reclaimed the lead 14 seconds later when Ethan de Jong tipped in a backhanded feed from William Fällström in front of the crease.
The Bears continued to assert their presence in the Quinnipiac zone and pressure the net, but the Bobcats fended off the attack to secure the victory.
Brown 2, Princeton 0
Saturday’s win against Princeton (4-20-5, 2-16-4) marked the fifth career shutout for Nieto, who recently recorded a clean sheet in a 2-0 victory at St. Lawrence Jan. 31. James Crossman ’23 and Zach Giuttari ’20 scored in the first and second period respectively to fuel Bruno to the season-closing victory.
It’s “always great when you have such a depth in your lineup — you can rely on every line to go out there and perform,” Weberg said. “It’s a team sport and I think everybody on our team is critical if we’re going to win a game. Everybody needs to be on top of it, and I think that’s what we showed (Saturday) against Princeton.”
The teams pressured one another from the initial faceoff in a fast-paced first period. With just over two minutes remaining in the frame, Crossman collected the puck in the defensive zone and worked his way down the length of the ice alone, sending a backhanded shot neatly through the five-hole of Princeton goaltender Jeremie Forget for an early lead.
Giuttari followed midway through the second stanza, converting on the power play to extend Bruno’s advantage to two. After Bradley Cocca ’23 flipped a pass to the slot, Giuttari fired a wrist shot through a screen and into the back of the net for the tally.
A series of formidable performances from the Bears’ penalty kill also enabled the team to preserve the clean slate throughout the middle period, as Bruno killed off a trio of penalties in the frame. The unit would go 6-for-6 in the contest to secure the shutout.
“This time of year, specialty teams become especially important — you can definitely win and lose games depending on how your specialty teams do,” Weberg said. “We scored a goal … on the power play which was great, … and then our penalty kill is pretty much what won us the game.”
The final stanza saw a critical and impressive showing from Nieto, who made 17 saves to deny the Tigers and clinch the season series against Princeton.
“It feels good to end the season on a high note with (Nieto) having a shutout,” Crossman said. “Going into this week of practice with a win under our belt and a good performance (against Quinnipiac) definitely changes the mood in the dressing room and hopefully has a positive impact on Friday.”
This weekend, the Bears will face a recent rival in Colgate, whom they defeated 3-1 at home Feb. 21. Brown previously toppled the team 4-1 on the road Nov. 9.
As the squad enters the postseason, it emphasizes the importance of maintaining a rigorous work ethic and focusing on internal performance.
“Our effort can dictate how long we want to play this year, and that’s up to us — there’s nothing that other teams are doing that’s unstoppable,” Crossman said. “So for us to just dictate how we want to play, we’re in control of the rest of our season from here on out.”
The Bears will face off against the Raiders at Class of 1965 Arena in a best-of-three series beginning Friday.