PROVIDENCE, R.I. — It’s a good thing for Brown that sophomore center Shane Mudryk came out to play tonight. He factored in all three of the Bears’ goals in a narrow 3-2 home victory over Vermont.
“We set out this weekend for four points and that’s what we got,” said Mudryk, referring to the win and last night’s win over Dartmouth. “It was a good weekend for us.”
It was Brown’s second win in as many nights, vaulting them from being a point out of the last playoff spot to the middle of the ECAC pack. Sophomore goaltender Yann Danis was the man again, turning aside 32 out of 34 shots for his seventh win of the season.
But it was Mudryk who stole the show, scoring the game-winner and earning assists on Brown’s first two scores. In perhaps the prettiest play that has come out of Brown’s offense all year was his goal, he and fellow sophomore Adam Saunders turned a series of nice passes back and fourth into what appeared to be an insurance goal, making it 3-1 Brown with less than three minutes to go in the game.
Saunders broke into the Catamount zone with some speed and dropped a pass back to Mudryk, who in turn slid it back to Saunders along the right wing. Mudryk broke for the net, and his linemate found him at the goalmouth for the score.
The game was tied at 1-1 going into the third, and it remained that way until about the halfway point when Mudryk found himself with the puck on a two on one coming down the left side in the Vermont end. He found freshman forward Les Haggett, who has netted some big goals for the Bears, in the slot for a one-timer which made it 2-1.
Brown and Danis held that lead, despite getting outworked in the corners for much of the third. After blowing many nice chances to extend their lead, Mudryk and Saunders finally combined for the vital goal, which turned out to be Mudryk’s second game-winner of the year.
But the Catamounts had plenty of fight left in them. With the loss, they have now dropped 13 out of their last 14 games — but this one came down to the last seconds.
With their goalie pulled down 3-1, Vermont’s attack managed to sneak one slightly behind Danis. Patrick Sharp managed to get his stick on it to send it home and cut the lead to 3-2. With :47 left in the game and the momentum 100% on the Catamounts’ bench, it appeared they could very well send it to overtime.
“We could’ve made it a lot easier,” Brown head coach Roger Grillo said. “But I’m pretty confident with these guys.”
But Danis and the Brown defense did their best to settle down and it worked. A couple of shots made their way to the net, but, for the most part, Vermont was kept at a length from Danis and any chance to tie it up.
“I didn’t think we played a great game tonight,” Grillo said. “But we turned it on when we had to in the third. We’re in a position where we can’t sit back now — we have to go out and try to grind out wins just like this one.”
This weekend’s two losses, after falling 6-0 to Harvard last night, have put Vermont well in the ECAC cellar. If they are looking to make the playoffs again this year, they’ll have to turn around this major slide.
“We have to put a string of wins together pretty soon or we’re gonna be golfing early,” said Vermont head coach Mike Gilligan.
Brent Robinson got the Bears on the board early with his second goal of the weekend. After receiving a pass from Mudryk on the right wing, Robinson beat Vermont’s Tim Peters with a top shelf goal to make it 1-0.
Brown held that lead until past the midway point of the second, thanks to some solid play from Danis and one spectacular play from junior defenseman Paul Esdale. After a good opportunity missed for the Catamounts to tie it up, a second chance shot bounced toward the vacated Brown net. Out of nowhere, Esdale dove through the crease and slapped the bouncing puck out of the net and out of danger for the Bears.
But Vermont did eventually get even. A Scott Mifsud shot from the right side rang off the post and deflected directly to John Longo. Longo knocked it home to finally solve Danis.
Mudryk’s three points were a career high for the Alberta native, and he picked a good game for it.
“My father and grandmother were here to see me play for the first time,” Mudryk said. “It was good to have them watching and good to get us a win.”