Overcoming a 2-0 deficit, the Brunswick School hockey team earned a berth to a destination it hasn’t been to before – the semifinal-round of the NEPSAC Elite 8 Tournament.
Registering two goals in the third period — the game-tying tally with 2:11 to go — then tallying on the first shift of overtime, fifth-seeded Brunswick came back to beat fourth-seeded Noble and Greenough School, 3-2, in the quarterfinal-round of the Elite 8 Tournament, held in Dedham, Mass., Wednesday evening.
With the victory, the Bruins advanced to the NEPSAC Frozen Four for the first time in school history and will face Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass., on Saturday afternoon.
Noble and Greenough scored a goal in the first period on a 2-on-1 rush and tallied again in the second period on a power-play wrister from 10 feet inside the blue line to take a 2-0 lead on the Bruins in this quarterfinal-round matchup.
The Bruins stayed the course, however and kept pushing. They outshot Nobles by a 29-16 margin after two periods and came up empty. Bruins coach noted the team had a few golden opportunities, with one shot hitting the crossbar.
Brunswick drew its first power play just 90 seconds into the third period and capitalized, cutting Noble and Greenough’s lead in half. A half-board-to-below-the-goal-line-and-back exchange between junior Drew DellaSalla and senior James Shannon — and subsequent pass to Sean Gibbons in the bumper position on the 1-3-1, resulted in the Bruins’ first tally.
“Gibbons, a junior right-winger, one timed the puck home to bring the Bruins within one and break the seal of the Bulldogs’ stalwart goaltender,” Kennedy noted.
The ice remained tilted toward Brunswick’s offensive the remainder of the final 18 minutes and the Bruins finally tied it on a great individual effort by junior defenseman Cooper Cleaves. With the Bruins on another power play, Cleaves scored with just 2:11 remaining in the third period, tying the score at 2-2.
“On the entry, Cleaves attempted to dump the puck and get in on the forecheck but a fortunate bounce off the stanchion put it right back on his stick at the top of the right face-off dot — where he fired one off the post to the far side and in for the equalizer,” Kennedy described.
“Another Brunswick power play carried over into overtime when Cleaves moved it to DellaSalla on the breakout and the Harvard-bound left winger beat the defenseman to the inside, as he cut to the net with speed — quickly feeding Gibbons on the backdoor for the empty-net put-away,” Kennedy said of the Bruins’ game-winning goal.
The Bruins outshot Nobles, 47-19 in the winning effort.
Senior goaltender Brendan Holahan earned the win between the pipes. “He was coming up huge especially, when the score favored the Bulldogs in the first and they came hard with a flurry of chances to increase the lead,” Kennedy said.
Now, it’s on to the Elite 8 Frozen Four for the surging Bruins, who have won 10 straight games, heading into Saturday’s semifinals at Cushing Academy.
Categories: Brunswick School, Winter sports
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