PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown junior center Tye Korbl scored a goal with just eight seconds left in overtime to lift his team to an exciting 3-2 win over St. Lawrence. His game-winner capped an excellent effort from the surprising Bears, in which they fought back from a 2-0 second period deficit.
As a rush developed into the Saints’ zone, Korbl received a pass from Brent Robinson in the right slot. Korbl then faked a shot, stepped around a St. Lawrence defender, and deked out goaltender Kevin Ackley.
“We kept battling all night long,” said Korbl, Brown’s assistant captain. “Early on they were getting the breaks. It was just a matter of time until we got ours.”
The loss was a tough one for St. Lawrence to swallow. Last night, the Saints were beaten with just :20 left in the third period by Harvard, 2-1. For the two-time defending ECAC champs, coming back from a road trip in early December with just one win, compared to four losses, is not what most expected of them.
“There are a lot worse places we could be than here,” said St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh. “I think we have good character as a team and this will be a test of it now.”
Brown and St. Lawrence both brought their best games tonight. The play went back and forth at a high pace, resulting in some great chances for the Saints and four Brown opportunities alone on Ackley, the last of which Korbl buried for the win.
Ackley, a freshman, stopped 38 shots in the loss. At times, he had the Brown offense, which was potent from the first drop, stymied. In one scramble in front of the net, Ackley made two incredible saves from his back.
“I was impressed with this [Brown] team,” Marsh said. “They moved the puck really well and did everything fast. It’s going to be a long process for us now. We aren’t getting breaks, but you can’t use that as an excuse.”
After a fast-paced and scoreless first period, the Saints jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second. A faceoff won in the Brown end led to a quick goal for forward Jim Lorentz. A shot from Charlie Daniels, which deflected off a Brown skate, snuck by Brown’s Brian Eklund for a power-play goal which made it 2-0.
Eklund closed the door after that for the win. He made 26 saves on the night, including 10 in that crucial second, to gain his third victory of the early season.
Brown answered later in the second to cut the lead to 2-1. Defenseman Josh Barker made several great plays along the blue line to keep a Bear power play alive. Eventually, he found Pascal Denis on the right side. Denis’ shot didn’t find the net, but freshman center Les Haggett got Brown on the board with his first career tally.
Early in the third Brown’s power play struck again. Defenseman Paul Esdale, who nearly missed twice earlier in the game on chances, provided the evener on a shot from the right side with deflected off the post before going into make it 2-2.
That game-tying goal seemed inevitable. The Bears nearly cashed in on many opportunities late in the second. After they tied it up at two, instead of falling back on their heels as they had in prior games, Brown kept at Ackley until eventually Korbl, with just seconds to play, ended the game with his dramatic goal.
Coming into the game, the Saints’ penalty kill was almost invincible — they had allowed just four goals in 52 chances. The Bears managed to finally solve St. Lawrence’s aggressive killing with those two important goals that got them out of a 2-0 hole.
In an exciting home weekend, the Bears took Clarkson and St. Lawrence both to overtime, and now have three points to show for it. With its third win, Brown surpassed its total of conference wins from last season.
“The thing I liked about tonight was how we reacted after we got down by two,” said Brown head coach Roger Grillo. “I thought we had the better part of the play all game long, but we stuck with it when we got down and pulled out a big win for the program.”
The overtime win was Brown’s first since topping St. Lawrence 2-1 on December 5, 1997. Korbl earned his second career game-winning goal; the first came last year at Princeton in Brown’s first conference win.
The Bears are a different team this year, though.
“It was great to get three points this weekend out of two of the tougher teams in the league,” Korbl said. “After last night’s disappointing tie we were talking about what team means to us. We have set ourselves the goal of getting above .500 in the league.”
Next Saturday Brown will have a chance, as the Bears host Harvard in their final game before break for exams. The Saints have four nonconference games left at home before they take their winter break.