SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — It was a last-second comeback for the ages. The red light behind the net went on and 1,756 fans in Achilles Arena, along with everyone on the ice, looked up to see if time had expired for the Union win.
The clock read all zeros, but the Brown bench erupted, as they had apparently tied it up at 2. The Skating Dutchmen protested, forcing the officials to talk it over, but Brown senior forward Doug Janjevich’s heroics went up on the scoreboard, sending Friday night’s game to an uneventful overtime.
“At that point you are just throwing it at the net,” Brown coach Roger Grillo said. “You can only hope for the best.”
With 17 seconds left, a faceoff in the Union zone set the stage for a dramatic finish. Junior defenseman Josh Barker made a great play to keep the puck in the zone, and the play made its way to the left corner.
With just about two seconds left, it appeared the Dutchmen would hang on to a key two points in the ECAC playoff race. But Brown’s Paul Esdale whipped a feed, which somehow found the stick of Janjevich in front of the net. He redirected it in, just as the third period expired.
“Paul had it in the corner, and luckily it found its way out to me,” Janjevich said. “And all I could do was redirect it toward the net. It’s about time we got some breaks.”
The Bears went to the third trailing 2-0 and shaking their heads at the very solid play of Union’s Brandon Snee in net. He held Brown scoreless until just past the midway point of the third.
The freshman line of Adam Saunders, Brent Robinson, and Shane Mudryk finally solved him. After getting robbed earlier in a great shift, it was Saunders who knocked it in. Robinson and Mudryk, who also assisted on the game-tying goal, were responsible for getting the puck to Saunders in front. Saunders, on his second of the year, poked it through the sprawled out Sneed.
“Our freshmen played tremendous,” Grillo said. “We had nine of them in the lineup, but this line played especially well. They had a great shift to get us back in the game.”
The Bears waited until the last possible moment to get the equalizer, but it still counted. After a Dutchmen-dominated first minute or so of overtime, neither team had any other real chances to get the game winner.
Union coach Kevin Sneddon was not available for comment after the game. Union had to be disappointed, knowing it let a critical two points slip out their hands, despite still gaining a point on Colgate with the tie.
“There is too much parity in this league to not play a good 60 minutes of hockey,” Union assistant coach Kevin Patrick said. “Points in the ECAC are hard to come by.”
Brown’s Brian Eklund countered Snee in the other net. After a shaky start, Eklund shut the door to total 29 saves on the night. Snee kicked out 23.
“We definitely took these guys a little lightly once we got up 2-0,” Snee said. “Tomorrow night, we need to put together a full game.”
The Dutchmen got both their goals in the first, then seemed to put it on cruise control. They relied on Snee to make several great saves throughout the second and third — two frames in which the Bears had control.
“We’re at a point in the season where you need these ones,” Union co-captain Bryan Yackel said. “We tried to coast through the second and the third. It was discouraging to watch them come back like that.”
Junior defenseman Charles Simard got Union on the board in the first. Just after a power play had expired, Simard circled out to the front and shot it through a mess of bodies and past Eklund to make it 1-0.
Minutes later, Yackel made it 2-0. After a Brown miscommunication in its end, Jordy Federko picked up a loose puck and fed Yackel a one timer, which he blew past Eklund’s glove hand. Nathan Gillies had assists on both goals.
In a scoreless second, Snee made 12 saves to keep the Bears’ scoring woes alive. Mudryk and teammate Chris Legg both had golden opportunities to cut the lead in half, and Snee made some fabulous saves just before the period ended to keep it 2-0.
But Brown, already eliminated from an ECAC playoff berth, showed great spirit in battling back. It stunned the Union crowd, battling back when it seemed it could be just the same old story for the Bears.
“It’s all about pride now,” Janjevich said. “We don’t want to embarrass ourselves. We know we are better than we have played.”