The men’s hockey team (9-17-3, 5-14-3 ECAC) tied against Colgate (14-15-5, 11-8-3 ECAC) in a 2-2 battle Saturday night, with Colgate winning the shootout and securing the extra point in the Eastern College Athletic Conference standings. The Bears were coming off a 5-0 loss the previous night against Cornell, which is ranked No. 13 in the country.
The team “did a good job in terms of responding (to) what was an awful night for us,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94. “We gave ourselves an opportunity to win.”
Brown and Colgate last went head to head in November, when the Colgate Raiders won 3-2 in a close overtime battle. Coming into this game, Whittet said that he knew the Bears were facing a “skilled” team.
“They have an outstanding power play. They have one of the best forwards in the league in (Alex) Young,” Whittet said, adding that the Bears’ defense improved dramatically following the match with Cornell.
Around 10 minutes into the first period, Bears defenseman Brett Bliss ’25 was sent to the box for a tripping penalty. Less than two minutes later, a penalty for interference on James Crossman ’23 gave Colgate a brief 5-on-3, but Bruno survived both power plays and the game remained scoreless.
The Bears got on the board in the second period when Ryan Bottrill ’26 found an open Jordan Tonelli ’24 in front of the opposing goal. Tonelli fired a shot past three Colgate defenders and the left side of the goaltender.
It was “just a really good job by my linemates,” Tonelli said of his goal, adding that Nathan Plessis ’23 “won a battle, got it to Ryan Bottrill, and he just found me in the slot, and I got lucky it went in.”
Around five minutes later, the Bears took a two-point lead, with Jonny Russell ’23 scoring his sixth goal of the year, assisted by Ryan Shostak ’26 and captain Luke Krys ’23.
“The puck was kind of bouncing around the boards, so I pounced on it,” Russell said. “We had a three-on-one and (I passed it) to (Shostak). (Shostak) gave me a nice pass back and I managed to squeak it in.”
But the two-point lead was short-lived. An unsportsmanlike conduct call on Tonelli gave the Raiders a power play, allowing Colgate’s Ethan Manderville to score by deflecting a shot from teammate Nick Anderson.
Not long after, Colgate’s Matt Verboon redirected an initial shot from the left point, sneaking it by the right side of Bears goalie Mathieu Caron ’25 and tying the game at two points apiece.
“We got a little bit deflated after their two back-to-back goals, but we came into (the) third period with a ton of confidence,” Krys said.
A back-and-forth third period went scoreless and the game headed to overtime, which saw a hooking penalty on Young just 28 seconds in. But Raiders goalie Carter Gylander blocked three power play shots from Brown to keep the game tied. Colgate had an opportunity to end the game on a last-second shot in transition from forward Ross Mitton, who skated past all of the Bears’ defenders, but Caron trapped the puck under his leg pads as time expired.
“I will say (Caron) is the best goalie in the league,” Whittet said. Caron returned on Friday against Cornell after missing the last six games. “He's our MVP. He gives us an opportunity to win every time he's in.”
In the shootout, Brown sent Tonelli, Samuli Niinisaari ’23 and Bradley Cocca ’23 to take the team’s shots. Tonelli and Niinisaari failed to score against Gylander. On the other side of the rink, Caron saved a shot from Manderville.
Verboon took the fourth shot of the shootout. His attempt was originally ruled unsuccessful, as it appeared to hit the bottom of the crossbar and deflect out. But after a replay review, the call was overturned, as the referees said the shot hit the net instead of the crossbar. Cocca failed to match Verboon’s shot and Colgate won the shootout, taking two out of the game’s three points in the ECAC standings.
“We wish we would have come out with the dub in the shootout or possibly even earlier, but with a lot of seniors’ last time playing at Meehan it's a little emotional,” Tonelli said.
Saturday marked the team’s senior night. The Bears celebrated their 10 seniors after the game in front of the home crowd.
The team’s seniors “are good hockey players, but they're even better guys,” Whittet said. “They're people that I like to be around and people that are just a team first and do everything in their power to help Brown when we step on the ice — when we put on the uniform to perform.”
Brown will go on the road for their first-round playoff game Saturday against Clarkson (15-15-4, 9-10-3 ECAC) in Potsdam, New York.
“We'll definitely game plan specifically for Clarkson,” Russell said. “If we do what we need to do, we can beat anyone.”