Brunswick Hockey Strong in Home Opener, Thumps Choate 5-2
The Brunswick School ice hockey team didn’t let its fans down during the team’s home opener against Choate Friday night.
With a raucous crowd at the Hartong Rink cheering on their team, the Bruins threw up two goals in the first period and played a solid third period en route to the 5-2 victory.
“I’m so happy,” Brunswick School head coach Ron VanBelle said. “You always run the risk in these big home games, especially the first one of the year, Friday night game and a big student section tonight, that the boys are too hyped up and not focused on playing the game. I think they did a really nice job staying focused tonight. They didn’t play into the crowd.”
Last season the Bruins traveled to Choate on their home opener and were defeated in front of a large crowd in Wallingford. Brunswick didn’t forget that loss and used it for motivation in their victory Friday night.
“They look forward to this stuff,” VanBelle said. “They have been talking this game up all week and this is one of those games that you circle on the calendar at the beginning of the year. There are so many kids on that Choate team that are from this area and these guys grew up playing with them. This is good prep school hockey.”
Brunswick came out firing in the first period. Two minutes in, Eric Ganshaw blasted a shot to the right corner of the net, but the Choate goalie sticked it aside. However less than five minutes later, the Bruins took the lead.
Chris Shaffer unloaded a shot from just inside the blue line toward the net. Max Flud was there in front of the net and deflected the Shaffer shot for the 1-0 lead with 11:31 to play in the opening period.
Just over three minutes later, Brunswick was inches away from the 2-0 lead, as both Patrick Burkinshaw and Genshaw were firing point blank shot at the net but were unable to push the puck home.
A few minutes later, Brunswick was able to push the puck in the net and grab the 2-0 lead, courtesy of a Choate penalty. While on the power play with 6:53 to play in the first, Colin Bernard fired a missile to the net. Luck for the Bruins Nick VanBelle was directly in front of the Choate goalie, as the puck deflected off VanBelle and in for the goal.
“Obviously you don’t get too many of these,” Christian LeSueur said. “We’ve been talking about this ever since last season and we wanted to welcome them in our place. Our team has always been really close. We are tight knit, but we just worked together as a unit.”
Although Choate capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play to cut the lead in half with 6:09 to play in the second frame, the Bruins quickly turned it back into a 2-goal game again. With only 1:08 gone by since the Choate goal, Jack Stephenson stole the puck deep in the Choate zone and immediately fired a shot that beat Choate goalie Kurt Moss for the 3-1 advantage.
Choate once again cut the lead to a one-goal deficit but Brunswick iced the contest with 13:58 to play. With a bunch of Bruins in front of the net, Nick Boardman pushed the puck in the net for the 4-2 lead and Matt Holmes was credited with the assist.
An empty-netter by Christian LeSueur with 48.3 seconds ended the night in grand fashion.
“In this game, it’s all about what happens in the blue paint,” Ron VanBelle said. “Our first goal had eyes. Nick got the second goal and that was a deflection. The third goal by Nick Boardman was a scrum in the blue paint. There wasn’t one pretty goal tonight. It was al about getting pucks to the net, minimizing the possession mistakes at the two blue lines, getting the puck to the net, crashing the blue paint and seeing what happens.”
In net for Brunswick (2-0 overall), Brian Ketchabaw finished facing 28 shots and made 26 saves.
“This was our first loss last year and I really think we have a shot this year,” Ketchabaw said. “We only a couple of guys. I really think we have something special. This was a game that we had circled on our calendars. It’s a Friday and a big home game. This was a huge win and hopefully carry it on the rest of the year.”
While lighting the lamp five times was pleasing to Ron VanBelle and the rest of the Brunswick fans in attendance, the defense really stepped up its game.
“I was really pleased with our defensive zone coverage,” the head coach said. “They had really good scoring chances and [Brian] Ketchabaw was there. But for the most part we played a nice, defensive game and that’s nice to see.”
To read more on the game and hear from both players and Ron VanBelle about the team’s high expectations, check out Friday’s Greenwich Sentinel.