The 11th-seeded men’s ice hockey team (9-18-3, 5-14-3 ECAC) lost to 6th-seed Clarkson University (16-15-4, 9-10-3 ECAC) by a score of 5-1 in the opening round of the ECAC playoffs Saturday in Potsdam, New York. The loss marked the team’s final game of the season, due to the new single-game elimination format implemented this year that replaced the previous best-of-three format in the ECAC tournament’s first round.
“It's obviously not the ending to the year that we wanted but I do think, definitively, we took a step forward this year,” Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94 told Brown Athletics. “Again, we're not where we want to be in terms of overall record but we took some steps. It was a better team game; we had a little bit more offense.”
When the two teams last went head-to-head in December, the game ended in a 2-2 tie with the Bears picking up the extra league point from a shootout victory. Defenseman Spence Evans ’25 said the team prepared for Saturday’s matchup “by watching Clarkson’s previous games, specifically the games in which we played against them, in order to know their tendencies and how they were going to try and defend us.”
The Golden Knights’ defense proved to be resilient all game, while their offense kicked off the scoring nearly 7 minutes into the first period courtesy of a Noah Beck goal. Beck, one-on-one against defenseman Samuli Niinisaari ’23, fired a shot from the right point, blocker side high and past goaltender Mathieu Caron ’25.
In the second period, Anthony Romano tacked on another point for Clarkson, shooting a backhanded shot from the left side and slotting it top shelf. Brown had a chance to cut the deficit in half on a power play when Dustyn McFaul was called for a penalty on a cross-check, but Bruno failed to score and headed into the third period down two goals.
“Clarkson has really high-end talent and they were able to make plays in space which proved troublesome for us,” Evans wrote in a message to The Herald.
However, just 22 seconds into the third period, a comeback suddenly seemed more feasible, courtesy of a goal from forward Jordan Tonelli ’24. Forward Gavin Puskar ’24, behind the goal line, passed the puck through the crease to Tonelli, who snuck it past the opposing goalie’s blocker side.
“It was a very good forecheck by my linemates,” Tonelli wrote in a message to The Herald, “and Gavin was able to give me a backdoor pass.”
Tonelli thought “the team battled back the last two periods after a rough start,” but despite the team’s effort, the prospect of a victory became slim after Romano’s second goal of the day put the Golden Knights up 3-1 around 5 minutes into the third period.
“The biggest momentum shift came after their third goal where it began to feel like a comeback was far more difficult than before,” Evans wrote. While a comeback still remained within reach for the Bears late into the third period, the game unraveled in the final 40 seconds: Clarkson scored twice, first on an empty-netter and then on a power play, which concluded the game and sealed the Bears’ 5-1 defeat.
The team will set their sights on the upcoming season and attempt to secure an ECAC championship despite the departure of their 10 seniors — including captain Luke Krys ’23, who played in all 92 games that occurred in his Brown career, and leading goal scorer James Crossman ’23, who recorded nine goals this season.
“We have high expectations for the guys coming back and they're going to work, and work and work,” Whittet told Brown Athletics. “And they're going to fulfill their potential and their expectations.”