PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown powered its way to a 5-0 lead and cruised to a 6-3 victory Saturday night over Union. The Bears’ leading scorer, senior Matt Kohansky, led the way with four points.
The Bears finally captured that elusive first conference win of the season, and improved to 2-9-2 overall. Brian Eklund held the Dutchmen scoreless until midway through the third, with 41 saves on the night.
“I thought we dominated play in their zone for much of the game, especially the third period,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “But we could play a full 60 minutes. Our special teams were awful at times, and their guys got the job done early and often.”
Brown opened up the scoring 4:06 into the first. Senior winger Doug Janjevich corralled a nice feed from the corner off the stick of Kohansky, and beat Union netminder Brandon Snee.
Just two minutes later the Bears ended their recent power-play woes with a bullet one timer off the stick of freshman blueliner Scott Ford. The first continued with the Brown hosts in control of a very physical game.
Junior forward Gianni Cantini extended lead to 3-0 midway through the second. Cantini buried a rebound after a long scramble in front, and erupted into a huge celebration.
“I hadn’t scored since my freshman year,” Cantini said. “My teammates said I was snake-bitten. It was a big goal for the team, but it also felt really good to break the streak. Hopefully more will follow.”
Brown captain Jon Zielinski, who had a goal and two assists on the night, added another to make it 4-0. This time on the power play, productive sophomore Keith Kirley took a hard shot walking out from the left boards, which deflected off Zielinski in front.
“I think we really picked up the intensity this weekend,” Zielinski said. “It wasn’t that much of a matter of playing at home after a long break. We just seemed like we wanted to play this weekend. Fortunately we got a win, we could’ve gotten two.”
Early in the third, senior forward John Petricig found paydirt with a bullet snipe from just inside the blue line on a rush. The Bears then led 5-0, and everything seemed to be cruising. The Dutchmen stormed back in the third frame, which they basically dominated.
During a four-on-four situation, Union got on the board off a draw. Drew Taylor won the draw back to Ralph, who beat Eklund low.
“It took us a while to figure out how to beat him,” Sneddon said. “Eklund is great up top. We kept telling our guys to go low, and that’s how we finally got to him.”
Minutes later, the Bears’ defense collapsed, with a giveaway that led to Nathan Gillies getting in all alone on Eklund, and beating him low.
Jeff Hutchins cut the lead to 5-3 just seconds later, beating Eklund between the pads from a difficult angle. With 8:08 left on the clock, and the Dutchmen scoring goals in quick fashion, the Bears seemed to press the panic button.
“When you get up 5-0, teams tend to sit back on their heals,” Brown coach Roger Grillo said. “We had a little bit of a lapse, but I was happy with the way we responded to the adversity.”
But the Bears responded with a strong last eight minutes, holding the Dutchmen down to only a few more chances. Kohansky added an empty netter to make it 6-3.
“I actually thought we played better last night,” Grillo said. “But it was good to get that first win in the conference. What we learned from this weekend is that we have to work hard and use our speed. Generally this is the time of the year we turn it around. I think we’ve waited long enough this year, and it’s time to get it going.”