All week, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute coach Seth Appert preached to his hockey team that Brown was going to be a tough opponent in the first round of the ECAC Hockey tournament.
Apparently, the players didn’t get the message.
The 11th-seeded Bears played a relentless, aggressive game that the sixth-seeded Engineers couldn’t match. Brown was rewarded by scoring three third-period goals to overcome a 1-0 deficit and beat RPI, 3-1, in Game 1 Friday at Houston Field House.
The Bears (9-17-4) take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. They can pull off their second straight upset of a higher-seeded team with a win tonight at 7. Last year, Brown was the 12th seed when it swept fifth-seeded Harvard.
The Engineers (17-16-4), who took a 1-0 lead on Paul Kerins’ power-play goal, need a win to force a Game 3 Sunday.
From the start of the second period until taking the lead early in the third, the Bears did a better job of getting to the net to make goalie Allen York’s life miserable. York got the better of the Bears in the second period. Appert had to call a timeout 3:28 into the second period after repeated excellent scoring chances by Brown.
“Credit to Brown, they played very good,” Appert said. “They earned the win. They were physical, they were tough. They did, as a staff, what we expected them to do, what we certainly tried to prepare our team for. Apparently, I didn’t do a good enough job getting that message across to our guys because we had too many forwards that weren’t willing to work through their interference, and hooks, and holds and physical play of Brown.”
Clearly, the Engineers were frustrated.
“We knew, coming in, that’s what they’re known for [and] what they’re good at,” said RPI forward Bryan Brutlag, who was knocked off the puck on a breakaway late in the third period. “It was expected. I guess we weren’t as prepared as we needed to be.”
Brown came into the game having surrendered 15 goals in two losses last weekend. Bears coach Brendan Whittet stressed to his team the importance of playing tough, physical hockey.
His players got the message.
“We wanted to be very accountable in what we did,” Whittet said. “I think we got away from it last weekend, where we were in a track meets. We don’t want to play track meets. What we wanted to do was make sure we’re on the defensive side, play really sound defensive hockey and try to create our chances, which, I thought, we did. I thought we did it from the second period on.”
But the Bears didn’t score until the third. Two goals in 1:13 turned the tide.
First, Jarred Smith beat York with a shot from the goal line to York’s left at 1:40. Then, at 2:53, York sent a pass up the boards that was intercepted by Aaron Volpatti. He got the puck down low to Devin Timberlake, whose shot was stopped by York. But York was out of position, and Bobby Farnham put the rebound into an open net for his second goal of the season, both against RPI.
“I came onto the ice, and I told my linemate, Devin Timberlake, just throw it at the net,” Farnham said. “It hit a skate or something. I just had a wide-open net. Not much to it. I got lucky, though.”
Volpatti added an empty-net goal with 1:05 left.
RPI has scored just four goals in the last four games. Appert isn’t worried about the goals.
“Goals have nothing to do with it,” Appert said. “It’s playing the right way.”
Brown 0 0 3 — 3
RPI 1 0 0 — 1
First Period — 1, RPI, Kerins 13 (Polacek, Bergin), 7:57 (pp). Penalties — Brownschidle, Bro, double minor (charging, unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:06; Pirri, RPI (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:06; Pirri, RPI (contact to head-roughing), 12:17; Pirri, RPI (hooking), 15:00; Timberlake, Bro (hooking), 18:22; Russell, Bro (hooking), 19:53; Cullen, RPI (embellishment), 19:53.
Second Period — None. Penalties — Merth, RPI (hooking), 3:32; Smith, Bro (slashing), 10:52; Fratkin, Bro (holding), 14:38; Zolinerczyk, Bro (hitting after whistle), 17:49; Jensen, RPI (hitting after whistle), 17:49.
Third Period — 2, Brown, Smith 5 (Brownschidle, Fratkin), 1:40. 3, Brown, Farnham 2 (Timberlake, Volpatti), 2:53. 4, Brown, Volpatti 12 (Timberlake, Farnham), 18:55 (en). Penalty — Zolinerczyk, Bro (contact to head-roughing), 19:27.
Shots on Goal — Brown 7-14-7 — 28. RPI 7-11-7 — 25.
Power-play opportunities — Brown 0 of 3; RPI 1 of 5.
Goalies — Brown, Clemente 9-12-4 (25 shots-24 saves). RPI, York 13-12-4 (27-25).
A — 1,639. T — 2:10.
Referees — Peter Feola, Mike Baker. Linesmen — Steve Shufelt, Justin Prusak.
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Categories: College Sports