ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – 18th-ranked Union (21-12-5, 10-8-4) scored two goals in the opening period and eventually increased its lead to 3-0 to hand the Brown men's hockey team (16-14-6, 7-9-6) a 3-1 loss in the Championship game of the 2013 ECAC Hockey Championship Saturday evening at Boardwalk Hall. Brown concludes its season with a winning record for the first time since 2004-05 when the Bears were 16-14-3, while also earning seven more wins than the 2011-12 campaign.
The loss ends Brown's remarkable playoff run, which saw the seventh-seeded Bears earn a First Round series win over Clarkson, in two games, and then a Quarterfinal series win over second-seeded Rensselaer, in three games, before upsetting #1 Quinnipiac in the Semi Finals to advance to the Championship game for the first time since 1993.
Trailing, 3-1, after two periods, the Bears outshot Union, 11-1, in the final 20 minutes in a valiant comeback attempt. The Bears had several chances in the final 80 seconds while skating with the extra attacker, but could not solve Tournament Most Outstanding Player Troy Grosenick and Union held on for the win and the League's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bears pulled senior Anthony Borelli (Grand Island, NY) in favor of the extra skater with 1:21 left in regulation and freshman Nick Lappin (Geneva, IL) nearly brought Brown to within a goal with just under a minute left, but his shot from the right circle went of the net. Thirty seconds later, on what would be the Bears last good chance of the game, freshman Mark Naclerio (Milford, CT) hit the post when he attempted to knock the rebound of a shot by junior Dennis Robertson (Fort St. John, British Columbia) past Grosenick from the right side of the crease.
"First, I want to give credit where credit is due," said head coach Brendan Whittet '94. "I thought Union personified a champion. They had a good night and another good year. They are well- coached, a great team and I wish them well as they move onto the NCAA Tournament.
"For us, I look at this past year as a tremendous year. It was a great step in the right direction. We won 16 games; first time Brown has won 16 games in a long time. We finished with a winning record; first time with a winning record in a long time. We were 5-2 in the playoffs and made a pretty good run. We made it to the championship game for the first time since 1993. We hosted a home playoff series for the first time in a long time. I am really proud of the guys and our staff and the direction the program is going."
The Bears had the better of the play in the opening 10 minutes, narrowly missing scoring the game's first goal just two minutes into the game. After Robertson fired a blast from the left point that Union's Grosenick saved, the rebound went right to junior Michael Juola (Lake Forest, CA) to the right of the case. Juola had a partially open net at which to shoot, but he could not corral the puck, ending the threat.
The Dutchmen took a 1-0 lead when Daniel Carr collected the rebound of a shot by Sebastien Gingras at the right side of the crease, and tucked it behind Borelli 10:18 into the game.
Union extended its lead to 2-0 with just 14 seconds left in the period when Max Novak's shot deflected off the post and behind Borelli.
Novak scored his second of the night just 2:20 into the second period, firing the puck past Borelli after an initial shot by Greg Coburn was saved by the senior net-minder.
With Brown skating on its second power play at 6:18 of the second period, Robertson got the Bears on the board when his shot from the center of the blue line got through traffic in front and trickled in behind Grosenick at 7:57 of the period. Naclerior earned his third assist of the weekend, while classmate Brandon Pfeil (West Vancouver, British Columbia) also assisted.
Brown went up on its third power play at the 5:28 mark of the third period, and nearly capitalized right away, but sophomore Matt Lorito (Oakville, Ontario) shot wide of the net from close-range. Late in the man-advantage, Grosenick made a big save on a Matt Wahl (Wellington, FL) blast from the left point.
Both Lorito and Robertson were named to the All-Tournament Team at the conclusion of the game.
BROWN 0 1 0 x - 1
#18 UNION 2 1 0 x - 3
First period – U, Carr (Gingras, Jooris), 10:18; U, Novak (Hatch, Sullivan), 19:46. Penalties – B, 1-2; U, 1-2.
Second period – U, Novak (Coburn, Sullivan), 2:20; B, Robertson (Naclerio, Pfeil), PP, 7:57. Penalties – B, 1-2; U, 1-2.
Third Period – No Scoring. Penalties – B, 0-0; U, 1-2.
B, Borelli (58:38), 5-13-1-x – 19; U, Grosenick (60:00), 10-11-11-x – 32.
Pictured: Dennis Robertson '14. Photo by DSPics.net.