Despite outshooting Hoosac School by a 2-to-1 margin, the Brunswick School hockey team was surprisingly staring at a one-goal deficit with time winding down in the third period of a game it desperately needed to win.
But after 48 minutes of near misses, the Bruins finally hit their mark.
Brunswick scored twice during a 1:57 second span and added an empty netter in the closing seconds in its 3-1 comeback win over visiting Hoosac School (Hoosick, N.Y.) Saturday in a New England Prep School League matchup at Hartong Rink.
With the victory, the Bruins raised their record to 9-9-3 overall and 6-8-3 in the league. The top eight teams qualify for the New England tournament, so the Bruins can ill afford any more losses.
"A loss would have been tough," Brunswick coach Ron VanBelle said. "We would still be alive for the playoffs technically, but we know we can't lose games that we have to win."
On the power play with the score tied at 1-1, the Bruins took the lead for good with 3:42 remaining in the third period. Junior forward Stephan Seeger sent a pass from the left faceoff circle to senior forward Travis Buck, who cut backdoor and snapped a one-timer past Hoosac goalie Alex Atsaidis.
The Bruins ran into a hot goalie in Atsaidis. Turning away shots from all angles, the sophomore netminder made 48 saves. Yet a bounce finally went Brunswick's way late in the third period. Pressuring the puck in the Owls' zone, the Bruins scored the equalizer when a shot from senior defenseman Charlie Better deflected off senior Nick Viceconte's skate and got past Atsaidis into the net, making it a 1-1 game.
"We were crashing down in front of the net and there was a ruckus in front and it just went in," Viceconte said. "We knew we needed to get one break and once we scored that one goal it would open up for us."
After Hoosac pulled its goalie with 1 minute left, Seegar sealed the deal with an empty netter with 39.1 seconds to go. Senior goalie and co-captain Gryphon Richardson made 20 saves for Brunswick, which displayed a strong forecheck throughout.
"Hats off to their goalie, he played a great game," VanBelle said. "If he saw the puck tonight, he was going to save it."
Behind the aggressive play of Seegar, Viceconte, senior Harry Clifford and junior Sebbi Foster, the Bruins outshot the Owls 20-5 in the first period and held a 38-15 shots-on-goal advantage after the second. Hoosac's defensemen, however, kept Brunswick to the outside for a good portion of the first two periods, enabling Atsaidis to get good looks at most of the shots coming his way.
"He's not big, but he competes hard and when he's on he plays really well," Hoosac coach Kurt Colling said. "He saw a lot of pucks and made some good saves. But when a team knocks on the door the whole game like that, they're going to eventually score."
"In the second period when they got that goal we were like wow, we're on offense the whole game, but not converting," Bruins senior defenseman and co-captain Peter Khoury said. "I told the guys on the bench to be loud and stay positive. In the third period we established a forecheck which was key."
Hoosac's opportunities were few and far between after it took a 1-0 lead as Khoury and senior defenseman Charlie Better worked hard to keep the puck out of the Bruins zone.
"We executed well offensively and defensively, we just weren't finishing," VanBelle said. "We have a lot of one-goal losses this year, so we didn't want to lose another close one."
Said Viceconte: "We were definitely playing desperate hockey. Going into the third period we knew we needed to start taking advantage of our opportunities and score goals."
Despite the loss, Colling liked the situation his squad was in.
"It's been one of those seasons where we haven't had a lead against a good team like Brunswick very often," Colling said. "Brunswick's a team that competes with the best teams in prep hockey, so I'm pleased with our effort."
The Bruins will celebrate Senior Day at home Wednesday against non-league foe Lawrenceville School.
"This win today was a big one, we showed a lot of resiliency," Khoury said. "We need to run the table if we want to make the postseason."
NOTES: Brunswick beat Albany Academy, 3-1, on Friday. Richardson made 30 saves. His save percentage is .925 for the season.
Brunswick 3, Hoosac 1
HOOSAC 0 1 0 -- 1
BRUNSWICK 0 0 3
Goals: H -- James McGarr; B -- Nick Viceconte, Travis Buck, Stephan Seeger. Assists: H -- Dominic Chamard; B -- Charlie Better, Stephan Seeger, Andre Masse. Goalies: H -- Alex Atsaidis (47 saves); B -- Gryphon Richardson (20 saves).
Records: Hoosac 5-20-1; Brunswick 9-9-3