Brunswick School

Brunswick hockey team advances to championship game of NEPSIHA Large School Tournament with win vs. Nobles

Brunswick celebrates its 3-2 New England semifinal-round victory against Noble & Greenough. Click the arrow to watch the video.

The ability to win close games is a mark of most teams that are serious championship contenders. It has indeed, become one of the trademarks of the Brunswick School hockey team.

The Bruins have shown a penchant for making key plays in clutch moments and pulling out one-goal victories, six to be exact this season.

Brunswick’s latest one-goal triumph came today against visiting Noble and Greenough School, a victory that launched it into its first New England final since the 2017-22018 season.

On the strength of a two-goal second period, top-seeded Brunswick recorded an impressive 3-2 win against fourth-seeded Noble and Greenough in the semifinal-round of the NEPSIHA Large School Tournament before a packed house at Hartong Rink.

The final hurdle for the Bruins to clear comes tomorrow when it hosts second-seeded Kent School in the NEPSIHA Large School Tournament’s championship game at 2 p.m.

Photo by David Fierro: Brunswick celebrates a second-period goal against Noble and Greenough.

“It feels amazing,” Brunswick junior forward/captain James Shannon said. “My first year we lost in the semifinal round, so it feels unbelievable to be heading to the finals.”

Shannon registered one goal and one assist to help spark the Bruins to their third one-goal win in their last three games. Brunswick edged Berkshire in Wednesday’s tournament quarterfinals, 4-3, tallying with 18 seconds remaining in the third period.

“We know what we need to do in those last minutes to win games,” Brunswick coach Mike Kennedy said. “It’s about sacrificing your body and blocking shots. All five guys on the ice in the last minute were doing just that.”

“It makes us stronger as a team knowing we’re never out of the game and we’re always ready and until that final horn buzzes, we’re in the game,” Shannon added.

Photo by David Fierro: Brunswick junior forward/captain Hank Cleaves controls the puck along the boards.

The home team held a 30-26 shots-on-goal advantage on Noble and Greenough and controlled the pace in the first period, but it was the visitors that tallied the matchup’s opening goal.

Junior forward Austin Tasca gathered the puck off a rebound and from between the circles snapped a shot home, giving Nobles a 1-0 lead with 6:17 remaining in the first period.

With just 28 seconds remaining in the opening period, the Bruins tied the score at 1-1 when junior defenseman Sloan Farmer put a wrister from the blue line past sophomore goalie Tyler Bloomfield. Senior defenseman John Burdett and sophomore forward Drew DellaSalla assisted on Farmer’s power play goal for the Bruins, who entered the second period with boost of energy following the goal.

“It was a huge power play goal with 26 seconds to go in the first,” Kennedy said. “You don’t want to go into the locker room down one. So that was a big momentum shift for us and we carried that into the second.”

Brunswick goalie Brendan Holahan registered 24 saves in the team’s 3-2 triumph against Noble and Greenough.

Noble and Greenough went on a power play, but it was Brunswick that took the lead with 7:23 left in the second period. Shannon skated free down the left wing on a breakaway and beat the Noble goalie with a backhand shot. Sophomore forward Jake Minella assisted on Shannon’s key goal.

“I saw him (Jake) swooping in, he made a great pass to me and I said I’m either scoring on this play and I’m going to get a penalty,” Shannon said of his goal. “I saw the far side was open and I knew I had to take it to my backhand and luckily it went in.”

Brunswick took an all-important two-goal lead at 3-1 on DellaSalla’s goal with 1:59 to go in the second stanza. His goal in front off a rebound was assisted by Shannon and junior defenseman Lucas St. Louis, who also had a sensational game.

Brunswick’s John Burdett (No. 6), Brendan Giles (No. 19) and Sean Gibbons (No. 15) get ready for a faceoff.

The third period began with Noble and Greenough scoring just 23 seconds into the frame off a shot from the point by senior forward Will Canavan after a faceoff win, making it 3-2.

The visitors couldn’t tally the equalizer though, as Brunswick junior goalie Brendan Holahan was up to the important task. Holahan made 24 saves, several of which came during the game’s final minutes. Bruins sophomore forward Casey Quinson also had a shot block to help secure the win.

“He (Holahan) made a couple of stops in the third when we needed it, he looked confident in the crease and he did what he’s been doing all year,” Kennedy said.

Brunswick sophomore defenseman Lucas St. Louis brings the puck into Noble and Greenough’s zone.

Burdett, senior Maxime Sauve, St. Louis, junior Colin Eschricht, DellaSalla and Farmer paced the Bruins defensively.

“We felt really confident, we were controlling the play down there in our defensive zone,” said Burdett, one of the Bruins’ captains. “That third goal was very key, bridging the gap between one and two goals is huge.”

Burdett was pleased with the defensemen’s production.

“We were able to make the simple plays get the pucks out off the boards high off the glass and Sloan Farmer scored the first goal off the top, so I think we were contributing in both zones,” Burdett said.

The Bruins defenseman has noticed the team’s penchant for pulling out tight wins.

“We’ve been in this kind of situation before,” Burdett noted. “Even our last win against Berkshire was down to the wire, so we’re good in the clutch moments in the third period. We have a lot of experience and we were able to pull it out again today.”

James Shannon had a goal and an assist in Brunswick’s New England semifinal-round win.

Shannon was, of course, one of the players of the game for the Bruins.

“The kid’s a warrior, he never stops working,” Kennedy said of Shannon. “He doesn’t aways get rewarded, so it was great to see him get rewarded tonight with a goal and an assist. He’s a real leader and I’m happy for him.”

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