PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY – In a pivotal game for playoff positioning, the Brown men's hockey team (10-11-5, 6-8-5) earned a big win over Princeton (9-13-4, 7-9-3) on Friday evening at Baker Rink. The two points move the Bears into a tie with the Tigers for 8th place and the final spot for home ice for the playoffs with three games remaining. Having swept the season series with Princeton, Brown also holds the tiebreaker over its Ivy foes.
The Bears remain in the hunt for both home ice and a bye entering Saturday's game at #1 Quinnipiac. With six points still available, Brown is two points behind a trio of teams tied for fifth place, three points out of fourth place, four out of third, and five out of second.
"Last weekend was a poor weekend as we double dipped on the road in crucial games," said head coach Brendan Whittet '94. "We challenged the team to get better this week in practice and we responded in a game that we absolutely needed to win.
"The nice thing about the win was that we were unbelievably solid within our systems and we played to our strengths. This sets us up for a major tilt (Saturday) against the top-ranked team in NCAA hockey with our game against Quinnipiac."
The Bears were led by their top line of junior Garnet Hathaway (Kennebunkport, ME), freshman Mark Naclerio (Milford, CT) and senior Jeff Ryan (Media, PA) as the trio combined for all four goals; Ryan scored two, while Hathaway and Naclerio each netted one goal and tallied two assists.
Senior Anthony Borelli (Grand Island, NY) battled illness and came within three minutes of earning his third shutout of the season, while stopping 32 shots, including 14 in the third period.
The two teams played a penalty free opening 20 minutes with Brown outshooting Princeton, 11-5. Hathaway gave the Bears a 1-0 lead at the 8:20 mark when he collected the puck from Naclerio and fired it past Mike Condon for his fifth goal of the season and third of the year against the Tigers. Naclerio started the play when he intercepted a Princeton pass behind the Tigers' net, before passing back out in front to Hathaway, who tucked the puck behind Condon for the 1-0 lead.
Less than 10 minutes later, Ryan finished off a textbook two-on-one, doubling Brown's lead. After receiving the puck from Hathaway at the Bears' own blueline, Naclerio carried the puck down the left wing and fed Ryan in the slot for the one-timer at 17:45.
The teams traded power play chances during the first six minutes of the second period and despite Brown holding possession in the zone for nearly its entire man-advantage, the Bears could not increase their lead.
Brown continued to dominate, outshooting the Tigers, 18-13, during the middle frame. With time winding down in the period, the Bears' line of Hathaway, Naclerio and Ryan added its third goal of the evening on Ryan's second goal of the night. Hathaway started the play when he sent the puck back to sophomore Joey de Concilys (St. Catharine's, Ontario) in the Bears' defensive zone. From the left side, de Concilys found Ryan at the opposite blueline with a tape-to-tape diagonal pass through the neutral zone. Ryan skated in on a partial breakaway, deked the goalie and then backhanded the puck inside the left post for his fifth goal of the year.
With high stakes for both teams, and Brown still leading, 3-0, Princeton made the aggressive decision to pull Condon in favor of the extra attacker with 5:30 left in regulation. The Bears weathered the six-on-five Tigers' advantage for 1:14, before Naclerio intercepted a Princeton pass in the neutral zone and iced the puck into the open net for a 4-0 lead at the 15:44 mark.
Condon returned to the net following the goal and leading scorer Andrew Calof got the Tigers on the board with 17:06 remaining, spoiling Borelli's shutout bid.
For the game, Brown outshot Princeton, 38-33, including a 29-18 margin over the first 40 minutes. The Bears were 0-2 on the man-advantage, while the Tigers were 0-1.
The Bears will close out their four-game road trip tomorrow evening when they face #1 Quinnipiac in a 7:00 p.m. game in Hamden. Brown returns home next weekend to host Cornell and Colgate in the final two regular season games of the 2012-13 campaign.
BROWN 2 1 1 x - 4
PRINCETON 0 0 1 x - 1
First period – B, Hathaway (Naclerio), 8:20; B, Ryan (Naclerio, Hathaway), 17:45. Penalties – B, 0-0; P, 0-0.
Second period – B, Ryan (de Concilys, Hathaway), 16:16. Penalties – B, 2-4; P, 3-6.
Third Period – B, Naclerio, ENG, 15:44; P, Calof (Kesselman, Ave), 17:06. Penalties – B, 0-0; P, 0-0.
B, Borelli (60:00), 5-13-14-x – 32; P, Condon (58:46), 9-17-8-x – 34.
Pictured: Jeff Ryan '13. Photo by DSPics.net.