Brunswick School

Brunswick hockey team gets back on winning track with impressive performance against Lawrenceville

Photo by David Fierro: Brunswick defenseman John Burdett looks to clear the puck out of the Bruins’ zone during their game against Lawrenceville School on Feb. 2, 2022, at Hartong Rink in Greenwich. Brunswick registered a 5-0 win.

As Brunswick School hockey coach Mike Kennedy noted in his postgame wrap-up following Wednesday’s game against Lawrenceville School, simplicity was the name of the game for the Bruins: get pucks deep, go to work and throw it toward the net.

After a scoreless first period that saw the Bruins get a bit too fancy with the puck, they executed each of those three aspects during the second and third period, resulting in a key win before their home crowd at Hartong Rink.

Junior forward/captain Hank Cleaves registered two goals and one assist, sophomore forward Drew DellaSalla had one goal and two assists and junior forward Eli Friedman tallied three assists for Brunswick, which skated to a convincing 5-0 victory over Lawrenceville.

The win put the breaks on a two-game skid for the Bruins, who upped their record to 12-5-1 overall. With the season past its midway point, the Bruins are battling for a berth in the NEPSAC’s Elite Eight Tournament, so each game is crucial.

Coming off a 4-1 home loss to Salisbury, Brunswick generated scoring chances in the first period, but went into intermission deadlocked in a scoreless tie.

Photo by David Fierro: Brunswick goalie Brendan Holahan makes a save against Lawrenceville.

“After a video session before the game emphasizing playing a deep game and getting in on the forecheck (a la Salisbury), the Bruins did little to none of that in the opening period — instead being too cute on the offensive blueline and thinking it was going to be point night on Oscar’s ice,” Kennedy described in his postgame recap.

The scene changed in the second period, as Brunswick scored twice and took control of the NEPSAC matchup.

“After a listless first period, the boys came out and just kept it simple,” Kennedy said. “We got the puck deep, played the body and made the forwards play in their defensive zone. In the third, the puck started going in for us, so I think the second and third period is the way we need to play as we move forward.”

The line of Hank Cleaves, DellaSalla, and Friedman connected for two goals in the second period, giving the Bruins a significant boost of momentum.

“We got a pretty good talking to by coach,” Friedman said. “We knew we had to go out there strong and put some pucks to net, so we started with getting pucks deep and everything happened from there. We had a good forecheck and some goals happened because of that.”

Brunswick junior Eli Friedman, right, battles for the puck against Lawrenceville.

DellaSalla opened the scoring in the second period, tallying on a tip-in with 15:10 remaining in the period. Friedman, who registered the initial shot on goal, was credited with the assist, along with Hank Cleaves.

With 4:57 remaining in the second stanza, Hank Cleaves finished off a play in front for a goal, making it 2-0. The third period saw the Bruins notch three goals, one of which was a shorthanded tally by junior defenseman Sloan Farmer (10:09 left in the final period).

Hank Cleaves added his second goal at the 10:56 mark and junior forward Hunter Spiess had a power play goal, his first tally of the year, to put the finishing touch on Brunswick’s 12th triumph of the season. Senior defenseman/captain John Burdett, sophomore forward Luke Drury, junior defenseman Lucas St. Louis and sophomore defenseman Carter Hall each had an assist for the victors.

Meanwhile, Brunswick junior goalie Brendan Holohan made more than 20 saves to earn the shutout win.

Brunswick’s John Burdett gets ready to receive a pass from Collin Eschricht against Lawrenceville.

“It was great to reset after that loss to Salisbury and get a big win here,” Holahan said. “I felt good today and I saw them (the shots) pretty well. It feels good to get this win. We are improving every day and we hope to build off each one.”

Burdett liked what he saw from the team’s defensemen.

“I think we played well as a defense and it was all due to Brendan Holahan with a stellar game in net,” Burdett said. “I’m playing on defense with Sloan (Farmer) and we have been playing really well together. He joins the offense and I stay at home, so we complement each other really well.”

Said Kennedy: “When you put up a zero on the board you know your defense played well. I don’t think we gave up a lot and when we did, Brendan was there. He’s been rock-solid all year. We’re happy to get the shutout for him.”

Brunswick senior defenseman John Burdett.

Brunswick continues its very busy week Thursday with another home game. The Bruins will face Williston Northampton at 4 p.m., then host Albany Academy for Boys on Friday.

“We definitely needed this win after losing to Salisbury and South Kent,” Burdett said. It is was a good win, which got the spirits up.”

“Our goal is to make Elite Eight and this win is pretty big,” Friedman said. “Hopefully, we can keep winning games and see where it takes us.”

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