Providence, RI. – Brown had everything on the line, with home ice at stake in its game against Union. The Dutchmen had just the national picture to play for. For the second night in a row, Bruno played in a tight checking, physical playoff type game. Defensive and tentative best described the first two periods, as both teams were able to keep each other off the board.
The third period was much of the same, until Kevin Sullivan fed a wide open Daniel Ciampini in front of the net to give the Dutchmen the 1-0 lead at 12 minutes, 51 seconds of the third period. Daniel Carr added his 17th of the year at 16:17 to give the Dutch a commanding 2-0 lead. Kevin Sullivan added an empty netter and Union defeated Brown, 3-0.
With the win, Union finishes the regular season 24-6-4, 18-3-1 in the ECAC. Brown squandered its opportunity to host a first round series with the loss. Its record falls to 11-15-3, 8-13-1 to finish the regular season. Union will have next weekend off with the bye and the number one seed, while Brown will travel to St. Lawrence for a series against the Saints in the first round of the ECAC tournament.
What I Saw
- Brown played well for much of the contest against a Union team that is so strong on the puck and as solid as any in the country. Brown’s biggest issue, is itself, which is admitted by coach Whittet. Brown had the biggest opportunity in the ECAC tonight and it missed it. For a team that made it to the ECAC final last year, it looked soft in key areas.
- Union played like everything mattered in the world, when really the Dutch didn’t have much to play for. During the last 50 minutes of the game, Union took it to Brown. It came out with a lack of energy but it picked it up after that. For Union it is just on a roll and tonight that continued.
What I thought
- The Bears were shut out in both games this weekend. It had tons of opportunities but it failed to finish. This is a problem it had for much of last year, but went away at times this season. Brown has as good of a first line as any team in the country, with Matt Lorito, Mark Naclerio and Nick Lappin. Tonight they were split up, as they have been at some points. Up and down the lineup it struggled to just find the net. Opportunities went wide and it just looked out of sorts. Brown needs to find a scoring groove fast or SLU will eliminate them quickly.
- Union is one of the strongest interior teams I have seen this season. Not much gets through to its goaltenders but when it does both of them have the ability to stop it. Sakellaropoulos is solid but he had his struggles despite the shutout. He left rebounds but his defense was ever confident, clearing anything of danger out and by being in the right position at the right moments. It is these fundamentals that make Union better than Brown, right now, and it is these little fundamental things that makes Union so dangerous going forward.
What They Said
Union coach Rick Bennett said,
“We had plenty to play for tonight and that is big picture, so that is our motivation. You also want to get as many wins in your league as you possibly can. Obviously they were playing for something but so were we.”
“I thought our guys really buckled down and played playoff hockey there in the third. The guys made a beautiful play there and that kind of got us going.”
“Alex’s last start was out in St. Cloud. Tonight he showed a lot of poise, which really kept us calm. I thought he played an excellent game.”
Union Forward Daniel Carr said
“I think, as a team, we played a strong game. The guys came to battle today and that’s all we can ask for. There’s no letting up with this team. It felt like playoff hockey out there this afternoon.”
Brown Coach Brendan Whittet said,
“The regular season is over, wherever we end up, we will be ready to go. We have to get back to fundamental, simplistic hockey. We over-complicate things so much offensively. There is too much one on one play, not enough moving the puck or head-manning things or funneling things to the net. It is way too individual.”
“You would have thought the experience of playing in the ECAC final last year, would have helped us in the regular season but this is a new team. Anthony Borelli had a .940 save percentage last year. If you look statistically we are exactly the same team, same offense, same power-play, same penalty-kill. But Borelli was a .950 save percentage goaltender. That is why we are where are now, not saying the goaltenders have been bad. We have had our good moments, but 15 losses is not where we want to be, as a program.”
Brown defenseman Dennis Robertson said,
“Absolutely we are looking at this as a missed opportunity. We had our destiny in our own hands and we needed just a point. We just let it slip and it is frustrating.”
What Else You Should Know
Union will have next weekend off and will look to heal up for a run through the ECAC tournament and the NCAA’s. It will not know its opponent until all series are over, as it will get the lowest remaining seed.
Brown, utterly disappointed after getting swept at home, will regroup and head up to the North Country to face St. Lawrence. The sweep meant a 360 mile excursion for the Bears instead of hosting a playoff series, as it needed just a lone point this weekend to host a series.
Union with the win set a program record in ECAC wins, with 18, and points in a season, 37. This has truly been a banner year for the boys from Schenectady.
Brown has not scored a goal in 143 minutes and 6 seconds of game action. The Bears last scored three games ago against Harvard at the 16:54 mark of the second period. That will just not cut it.