PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In both teams’ final regular-season game, back-to-back third-period goals lifted visiting Yale to a 3-3 tie at Brown. Freshman forward Ryan Steeves netted the game-tying goal early in the third to help his squad to its third straight Ivy League championship.
Up 3-1 going to the third, it looked like the already-eliminated Bears could finally break their 12-game winless streak. But junior Luke Earl got the Bulldogs within one, and Steeves evened it at 3-3 about a minute later.
Earl’s goal came on a low-angle shot from the left side off the stick of freshman defenseman Jeff Dwyer. Dwyer fired a hard, low shot as he headed toward the left corner. Earl got a piece of it to finally solve Brian Eklund, who performed admirably in net.
Then, as Yale grabbed the momentum, Steeves found a loose puck in the slot. He gathered it and snapped it by Eklund.
“This was definitely a tight game,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “They played awfully hard and awfully well.”
Brown had leads of 2-0 and 3-1, but each time Yale battled back. The Bears controlled much of the flow of the game throughout the first, but late in the game it was all Bulldog Blue in the Brown zone.
“Once we got up 3-1 we really got on our heels,” Brown head coach Roger Grillo said. “We aren’t used to being up by two goals in a conference game. That’s what got them back in the game.”
Midway through the third, an apparent Brown power-play goal by Captain Jon Zielinski was disallowed, as he was whistled for a penalty just before he knocked it home.
The Bulldogs enjoyed most of the good chances throughout the rest of the third and overtime. Eklund was strong in net to keep it at 3-3, and end a hard-fought game in a tie.
Brown jumped out to a lead thanks to Zielinski. His line of fellow seniors got the Bears going in their final games of their career, a he got a backhand by Yale freshman goaltender Peter Dobrowolski, with assists coming from Doug Janjevich and Matt Kohansky.
Dobrowolski was filling in for Dan Lombard for the second straight game. Lombard’s status for the playoffs is up in the air after he suffered a punctured lung on Thursday.
Paul Esdale made it 2-0 in favor of Brown. After getting a great chance denied by Dobrowolski earlier in his shift, Esdale took his time setting up a shot from the right circle that would find the back of the net.
Bulldog superstar Jeff Hamilton answered on the power play later in the first. Hamilton received a nice pass across the front of the net from linemate Ben Stafford, which he fired above the blocker of Eklund.
After Brown came out with a very strong start, Yale controlled the last five minutes and went to the locker room down 2-1. In the second and third, both teams started to take a lot of penalties and things got even more intense.
Esdale assisted on Brown’s third goal, which came on the power play. Freshman defenseman Scott Ford fired a one-timer from the left point, which deflected off a Yale defender and into the Bulldog net, to make it 3-1.
With the tie, Yale finished in eighth in the ECAC, and will travel to Harvard next weekend for its quarterfinal matchup. Brown finished the season in last place, going winless in its last 13 games (0-11-2).
“Against Harvard we are going to have to find some better matchups,” Taylor said. “They had the right guys out there at the right time. We have to stop digging ourselves holes though, because they get tougher and tougher to climb out of.”
“I was pleased with the way we played down the stretch though,” Grillo said. “I am proud of the way our seniors battled, and the way our young guys are getting better and better. I think it’s a bright future.”