Brunswick School cleared its first hurdle in the NEPSAC Large School Tournament in simply dominant fashion.
The second-seeded Bruins, who earned the tournament title in 2018, began its quest for a second championship in three seasons by rolling to a 7-1 victory over seventh-seeded Milton Academy in Wednesday’s quarterfinal-round at Wesleyan University in Middletown.
The Bruins (21-7-2) advanced to the semifinal round of the Division I Large School Tournament, where they will host third-seeded Loomis Chaffee School on Saturday at a time yet to be determined.
“It was a dominant 54-minute effort,” Brunswick coach Mike Kennedy said. “We got contributions from all four lines. Our six defensemen played a hard-nosed brand of hockey and we got good goaltending.”
Brunswick’s scoring surge in Wednesday’s game against Milton Academy began late in the first period. Positioned in front of the net, senior forward Will Forrest knocked the puck past the Mustangs’ goalie off a rebound from a shot by sophomore forward Connor Welsh, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead. The game’s opening goal came with just under two minutes remaining in the first period and with Brunswick on a power-play.
The Bruins entered the second period with a two-goal advantage courtesy of Andon Cerbone. The sophomore forward tallied off a breakaway, finishing his shot from between the circles with five seconds remaining in the opening period, making it 2-0.
“That was a big point of the game, the turning point of the game,” Kennedy said. “We controlled the game and the pace and looked liked we were heading into the second period in a scoreless tie. Those big goals gave us some momentum heading into the second period.”
Relentless in the Mustangs’ zone, the Bruins continued to control the puck and pepper Milton’s goalie with shots throughout a three-goal second period. Junior forward Michael Salandra went with his backhand on a breakaway and tallied early in the second period, giving Brunswick a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Salandra added his second goal on a 2-on-1 off a pass from senior linemate Jakub Teply putting Milton Academy in a 4-0 hole. Forrest’s wrap-around tally in the final minute of the second period gave the Bruins a commanding 5-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, Bruins junior goalie Alexander Rohlf was locked in, turning away each shot that came his way.
Salandra, Forrest, AJ Cerbone, Andon Cerbone, Henry Foster, Jakub Teply and Jude Brower were among a long list of Bruins registering shots on goal during their dominant second period.
Freshman forward Beanie Richter and senior Connor Sullivan each notched third-period goals for Brunswick, which just missed recording a shutout. Milton’s lone goal occurred with only two seconds remaining in the third period. Junior Mitch Cassella finished off a 2-on-1 for Milton’s tally.
The Bruins’ semifinal-round game against Loomis Chaffee on Saturday is a rematch of their meeting on Dec. 5 — the second game of the season for Brunswick. Loomis skated to a 3-2 win on their home ice against the Bruins.
“We are looking forward to having another crack at Loomis,” Kennedy said. “We are happy to have the opportunity to play on our home ice in front of our home crowd.”
The NEPSAC Large School Tournament final is scheduled for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Trinity College.