PROVIDENCE, RI - With the Bears enjoying a two-man advantage to start overtime, senior Aaron Volpatti (Revelstoke, BC) lifted the Brown men's hockey team (7-12-1, 5-7-1) to a thrilling 4-3 victory over Rensselaer (13-12-2, 6-6-1) when he scored his seventh goal of the year just 47 seconds into the extra period. The win is Brown's first over RPI since the 2004-05 season, giving the Class of 2010 its first win over the Engineers.
"The overtime win and the jubilation reminds me of the times when I used to play here," said head coach Brendan Whittet.
After settling into the zone with possession, senior Sean McMonagle (Oakville, ONT) and sophomore Jeff Buvinow (Turnersville, NJ) passed along the perimeter, inching closer and closer to the net. Stationed in the slot, McMonagle collected the puck from Buvinow on his left and immediately sent it over to Volpatti on the right side. Volpatti waited for RPI goalie Allen York to drop and lifted his shot over his right shoulder, emptying the Brown bench.
The two teams played a sluggish first period with RPI holding a slight, 9-7, advantage in shots on goal, despite Brown having two power-play opportunities to Rensselaer's one.
"I was happy because I thought we did a lot of good things throughout the game," said Whittet. "I thought we started out a little slow. But that second period was one of the best periods of hockey we played this year. We were determined and relentless and competitive, the energy level was high. And the energy level was high in the building."
Just 1:15 into the second period, the Engineers went up on their second power play of the night, and had several good looks at the goal, but sophomore Mike Clemente (Great Falls, VA) turned aside both shots that came his way. They had a particularly dangerous chance at the tail end of the power play, as Clemente couldn't corral a lose puck shot by Jeff Foss. He tried to cover it with his glove, but RPI got to it first and had a partially open net to shoot at, but the Bears' defense blocked the puck to end the threat.
As soon as the power play ended, McMonagle skated the puck out of the zone and the Bears settled in, grabbing a 1-0 lead 41 seconds later on a goal by freshman Chris Zaires (Aberdeen, NJ). Junior Harry Zolnierczyk (Toronto, ONT) controlled the puck in the right corner and sent it around the boards. Zaires collected it at the left faceoff circle, spun around, and fired a wrist shot that beat Allen York near-side at 3:56.
Sophomore Jack Maclellan (Calgary, ALB) increased Brown's lead to 2-0 exactly three minutes later with a beautiful shot from the opposite circle that eluded York glove-side. Sophomore Bobby Farnham (North Andover, MA) earned an assist on the goal.
However, just 2:03 after the goal, the Bears went on the penalty kill again, and this time, RPI capitalized when Paul Kerins put back the rebound of his own shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle at the 10:26 mark.
Brown took another penalty at 13:41, giving the Engineers their third power play of the period, but this time, it would be the Bears who would score. With just about a minute left in the RPI power-play, Volpatti, McMonagle, and Farnham combined to intercept a Rensselaer pass just inside the blueline. Farnham freed himself along the left boards and skated into the zone with Volpatti and McMonagle trailing, as the Bears had a three-on-one break.
Opting to keep the puck, Farnham fired a slapshot from the top of the left faceoff circle that beat York to the far side, giving Brown a 3-1 lead at 14:45.
The Engineers closed the gap to one goal for a second time when Chase Polacek scored another power play goal at 4:31 of the third. After Brown failed to clear the zone with time winding down on the man advantage, Polacek collected the puck at the left faceoff circle and beat Clemente, who was sliding over from the opposite post, stick-side for his 17th of the year.
Just about a minute later, Bryan Brutlag raced in on a breakaway, but Clemente made the save to hold the score at 3-2.
The Bears had a power play for nearly four minutes after a five-minute major negated what had been an RPI man-advantage, on which they failed to capitalize and it came back to haunt them, as Kerins tied the game at 3-3 with 4:33 left to play, scoring his second of the night.
Brown went up on the power play with eight seconds left. On the ensuing faceoff, the Engineers took a second penalty, setting up a two-man advantage for the Bears going into overtime and Volpatti's eventual game-winner.
"I give the guys credit because it's 3-3, you were up 3-1," Whittet said. "You know what, maybe you say ‘This just isn't our night, you play for a tie.' But guys came out and they played to win. And I think that's great."
Clemente finished with 27 saves, while York made 21 for RPI. In the midst of a four-game home stand, the Bears return to action tomorrow evening when they host #18 Union in a 7:00 p.m. game.
BROWN 0 3 0 1 - 4
First Period - No Scoring. Penalties - R, 2-4;
Second Period - B, Zaires (Zolnierczyk, Timberlake), 3:56; B, Maclellan (Farnham), 6:56; R, Kerins (Pirri, Polacek), PP, 10:26; B, Farnham (Volpatti), SH, 14:45. Penalties - R, 1-2; B, 3-6.
Third Period - R, Polacek (O'Grady), PP, 4:31; Kerins (Angers-Goulet), 15:27. Penalties - R, 4-19; B, 2-4.
Overtime - B, Volpatti (McMonagle, Buvinow), 5x3, 0:47. Penalties - R, 0-0; B, 0-0.
R, Allen York (60:47) - 7-8-5-1 - 20; B, Mike Clemente (60:47) - 9-9-9-0 - 27.