Jack Forrest’s rebound goal with 11:20 left in overtime gave Brunswick its first-ever championship in NEPSAC Tournament play, as the #5 Bruins topped #3 Thayer by a 4-3 margin in the Martin/Earl Large School Tournament on Sunday.
The title game, held in Sullivan Rink on the campus of St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, N.H., provided plenty of excitement for both teams, as the Tigers (17-12-1) rallied from a late 3-1 deficit to force the extra session.
The Bruins (18-12-4) entered the contest with a pair of shut-out playoff wins, as junior goalie Dan Dachille turned away all 47 shots he saw heading into the championship game.
“Dan played great and put us in a position to win every playoff game,” noted head coach Ron VanBelle after the championship game.
In the game, Brunswick’s Christian LeSueur opened the scoring on an end-to-end rush, slipping through a pair of defenders for a nifty five-hole goal at 10:28 in the first period. For LeSueur, the two-year captain and senior, it was his 71st and final goal as a Bruin. Adding a second period assist, the All-NEPSAC forward finishes his career with 88 helpers and 159 total points.
After the Tigers netted the equalizer just over two minutes later, Brunswick senior Nick Boardman intercepted a Thayer pass in the neutral zone and fed a cutting Tom Richter from the right circle for the one-timer at 14:32. Richter’s 11th goal of the season made it a 2-1 Brunswick advantage.
In the second period, Boardman pumped in a rebound goal off a blast by LeSueur, and the Bruins extended their lead to 3-1 with 11:11 left in the frame.
The Tigers battled back in the third period with a pair of goals to tie the contest. With 5:48 left, Jay O’Brien netted his second goal of the game and 41st of the season for Thayer. Three minutes after the O’Brien tally, the Tigers netted a power-play goal to tie the championship at three. Thayer earned another power-play opportunity in the closing minutes but could not net the go-ahead goal, as the teams headed to a full 18:00 overtime to determine the champion.
The Tigers controlled the puck for most of the overtime session, keeping consistent pressure on the Bruins and Dachille.
With six minutes to play, though, the Bruins won a faceoff in their end of the rink, and senior co-captain Ryan Carmichael took the puck up the ice. The defenseman weaved through traffic and flipped a shot on net from the right circle that was stopped, but fellow senior Forrest was on the doorstep for the title-clinching goal.
“Senior leadership got us here,” said Vanbelle, “and senior leadership brought it home.”
#3 Thayer 1 0 2 0 = 3
#5 Bruins 2 1 0 1 = 4
(B) Christian LeSueur 10:28
(T) Jay O'Brien (Christian Hayes) 12:44
(B) Tom Richter (Nick Boardman) 14:32
(B) Nick Boardman (Christian LeSueur) 6:49
(T) Jay O'Brien (Jayson Dobay) 12:12
(T) Aiden McDonough (Jayson Dobay, Evan Googins) 5X4 15:12
(B) Jack Forrest (Ryan Carmichael) 6:40
(T) Gavin Fitzpatrick (60:00) 26/30 4 (GA)
(B) Dan Dachille (60:00) 27/30 3 (GA)