Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Men’s hockey eliminated by No. 6 Union in first round of ECAC playoffs

Bears’ season comes to crushing end with 6-0 loss

Union put the Bears away and scored their sixth and final goal at the 14:05 mark of the third period.
Courtesy of Brown Athletics
Union put the Bears away and scored their sixth and final goal at the 14:05 mark of the third period. Courtesy of Brown Athletics

In a brutal season finale that Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94 labeled a “short-handed” effort, the men’s hockey team (8-19-3, 6-14-2 ECAC) lost to sixth-seeded Union (16-16-3, 9-10-3 ECAC) by a score of 6-0 in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. 

Saturday’s showdown in Schenectady, N.Y. was the third meeting between Brown and Union this season, with the two teams splitting their matches in the regular season. On Saturday, the Garnet Chargers broke the split and bested Bruno.

“Our biggest struggle Saturday was failing to get the first goal,” wrote forward Tyler Kopff ’27 in a statement to The Herald. “We generated a bunch of chances early but failed to execute, and as a result the game just got away from us,” he added.

In spite of the game’s final score, the first period was fiercely competitive. Brown’s offense came out firing, slapping five shots at the Union defense in a span of merely 90 seconds. Defensively, the Bears also started strong, withstanding Union’s juggernaut of an offense as the home team fired back four shots of their own between the 5:23 and 5:43 mark. Brown goaltender Lawton Zacher ’27 and company stood tall.


But at the 14:57 mark, the Bears’ defensive stand came to an abrupt end. Multiple Brown and Union players fought for the puck in a traffic jam, inadvertently sliding the puck into the stick of Union forward Caden Villegas. Villegas immediately fired it past Zacher and into the left side of the net, which put the Garnet Chargers up 1-0 after one period.

The second period was more of the same for the Bears who, despite finding some offensive opportunities, could never convert them to goals. Perhaps Bruno’s most promising opportunity to strike back came at the 6:00 mark when Union’s Nick Young was given a penalty for interference — yielding Brown a power play. 

But despite being short-handed, roughly 90 seconds later, it was the Union offense that struck again. Garnet Charger forward DJ Hart crept slowly toward the goal with his stick ready and, as soon as he received a sharp pass, blasted the puck behind the Brown defense to extend the Union lead.

Down 2-0, Bruno forwards worked hard to find their groove and put pressure on Union’s defense. In an encouraging fast break at the 9:27 mark, Gavin Puskar ’24 obtained the puck and launched it at the Union goaltender. But much to the Bears’ disappointment, Union goaltender Kyle Chauvette knocked Puskar’s shot down with his glove and into his body.

Roughly a minute later, at the 10:33 mark, a Brown comeback began to look unlikely. Union forward Chaz Smedsrud skated down the ice and, with a Brown defender in his face, fired a shot past Zacher’s body from far out, giving the Garnet Chargers a 3-0 lead heading into the third and final period.

Brown forwards Ryan Bottrill ’26, Brett Bliss ’25 and Kopff led a third-period offensive front for the Bears, each sizzling a shot at the Union goaltender but finding no success. On the opposite end, the Bruno defense continued to deteriorate. At the 6:34 mark, Union forward Ben Tupker sent the New York crowd into a frenzy with another goal that put the Bears down 4-0. And five minutes later, Union’s Caden Villegas struck again, making it 5-0.

“The team will be spending the offseason preparing to bounce back next year by working out and skating daily,” wrote Kopff. “We all have a sour taste in our mouths from yesterday's game and have plenty of motivation for this offseason,” he added.

Down 5-0, the Bears made some defensive adjustments, moving to an empty-net strategy that aspired to generate offense. This strategy, though, did not pay off. Just a minute after moving to an empty-net, Union’s Ben Tupker scored the Garnet Chargers another short-handed goal and made it a 6-0 game, sending Bruno home early.

"I thought the guys battled and we were incredibly short-handed the last two months,” said Whittet in a statement to Brown Athletics. “The group left it on the ice, (and) it wasn't our night,” he added.

With Saturday’s loss, the Bears finished the season 8-19-3, dropping them to the penultimate place in the ECAC standings. 


Nevertheless, Whittet remains hopeful for what’s to come. “Our goal is to win a Championship. I said that when I was hired and that hasn't changed. Our guys will get back after it; we have a ton of returning players, and we'll get some guys who were injured and pretty special players and we have an excellent class coming in,” he said in a statement to Brown Athletics.

“The future of our program is very bright,” he added.

Get The Herald delivered to your inbox daily.

Cooper Herman

Cooper Herman is a senior staff writer covering sports and arts & culture. He is a freshman from Alexandria, Virginia studying Economics and International and Public Affairs.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.