Brunswick School

Brunswick School hockey team an experienced group with high aspirations

Photo by David Fierro: Brunswick School’s ice hockey team gathers prior to its season-opening game against Loomis Chaffee School at Hartong Rink on December 1, 2022, at Brunswick School in Greenwich.

Following a 21-win season in which it advanced all the way to the championship game of the NEPSIHA Large School Tournament, Brunswick School’s hockey team is primed and poised to become to, once again, be one of the premier teams in the NEPSAC this winter.

“We’re excited about our team,” Brunswick coach Mike Kennedy said. “We have an older, more experienced team with a lot of guys who have been here before. They have a lot of varsity experience. We think we’re ahead of the game and we think we can be a competitive team in this league and win a lot of hockey games.”

After a highly successful regular season, the Bruins qualified for the NEPSIHA Large School Tournament last winter and won its first two games of the tourney to earn a spot in the championship game. Brunswick, which advanced to the tournament’s final with a 3-2 win over Noble and Greenough in the semifinals, was defeated by second-seeded Kent School, 4-2, in the NEPSIHA title game at Hartong Rink. The Bruins were the tournament’s No. 1 seed.

Photo by David Fierro: Brunswick’s Brendan Giles, left, gets ready for a faceoff against Loomis Chaffee School.

The Bruins, who are coming off another winning season, began its 2022-2023 campaign Thursday evening with a game against NEPSAC opponent Loomis Chaffee School before a big crowd at Hartong Rink. Jumping out to a 2-0 lead, Loomis Chaffee held off Brunswick, 3-2, in the season-opening matchup. Brunswick scored both of its goals in the third period.

“We showed what kind of hockey team we can be in the third period,” Kennedy said. “But as I told the boys, you can’t play one period in this league and expect to win.”

Loomis Chaffee, from Windsor, Conn., scored the game’s first goal with 13:59 remaining in the second period, then took a 2-0 lead with 12:44 left in the period. The visitors spent a lot of time in the Bruins’ zone during the first two periods and consistently tested Brunswick senior goalie Brendan Holahan numerous times. Brunswick was outshot, 43-28, in the matchup and Holahan registered 40 saves.

Photo by David Fierro: Brunswick goalie Brendan Holahan is one of the team’s senior captains.

“It was great to see Brendan Holahan play like he did in the net,” Kennedy said. “He was our best player tonight, he kept us in the game the first two periods.”

Holahan and senior forward James Shannon are the Bruins’ senior captains. Seniors Collin Eschricht, a defenseman and Eli Friedman, a forward are alternate captains. One of the Bruins’ strengths should be the goalies they have in Holahan and junior Will Baker.

“It’’s nice to know we’re going to have a solid chance to win tonight and in all of our games with who’s behind the pipes,” Kennedy said.

In the Bruins’ season-opener against Loomis Chaffee on Thursday night, junior forward Brendan Giles scored at the 4:30 mark of the third period, cutting the Pelicans’ lead to 2-1. Trailing 3-1, after Loomis got a goal from senior forward Will Reardon 5:06 into the third period, junior forward Luke Drury tallied for Brunswick, making it 3-2. Juniors Sean Gibbons and Carter Hall assisted on Giles’ goal, while Giles and Gibbons set up Drury’s tally.

Brunswick defenseman Cooper Cleaves looks to move the puck out of the Bruins’ zone.

“I’m excited, we have a lot of talent and a lot of great guys in there,” Holahan said. “We had a great third period out there, so we have to keep that up moving forward.”

Brunswick went on a power play twice late in the third period, but the equalize eluded it and the Pelicans pulled out the one-goal win.

“We have to be ready from the start, we had a bit of a slow start, but if we play like we did in the third period we will be fine,” said Holahan, who turned away shots from all angles, especially in the first two periods.

Kennedy noted that 20 players return from last season’s team that appeared in the championship game of the large school tournament and finished with a record of 21-8-1. Shannon, Holahan, Eschricht, Friedman, Sloan Farmer (defenseman), Nikolas Cadoret (defenseman), Daniel Hu (forward) and Hunter Spiess (defenseman) are the Bruins’ experienced group of seniors.

Photo by David Fierro: Brendan Holahan is a senior captain of the Brunswick ice hockey team.

The Bruins’ roster includes 11 juniors who also hope to contribute to the team’s success this winter.

“We have depth at every position, with four lines hopefully, and six defensemen and two goalies,” Kennedy said. “So, we’re confident in our numbers.”

As for the team’s expectations?

“They’re as high as ever,” Kennedy said. “With the group that we have, if we can be healthy and stay healthy, we have a chance to be a very good team.”

Said Holahan: “We want to win a championship, so we want to keep winning games and win one game at a time. To do that, we just have to keep playing hard and working hard in practice every day and get better every day.”

Brunswick visits Phillips Exeter Academy Saturday for a 6 p.m. game, then is home again on Wednesday when Kent School visits Hartong Rink.

Brunswick was edged by Loomis Chaffee School in its season-opener, 3-2.

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