PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In a Friday night exhibition game hosted in a newly renovated Meehan Auditorium, the Brown Bears coasted to a 4-1 win over Western Ontario. The pace of play was slow, but Brown’s steady defense and timely scoring were more than enough to ensure victory over the visiting Mustangs.
Junior goaltender Yann Danis, coming off an All-American sophomore year, made the start in net for Brown and stopped all 11 shots he faced over the first period and a half. Danis, the primary reason for Brown’s appearance in the ECAC playoffs last season, look as calm and sharp as ever in net in Brown’s final tune-up before Harvard on November 2.
“We played real well in our zone tonight,” said Danis, who is always helped by his strong defense and acknowledges it. “They had trouble getting a lot of good shots on net in our end. I think we are on the right track and are going to be ready next Saturday.”
Sophomore forward Les Haggett had a goal and an assist to lead the Bears. Haggett, a great finisher who scored a number of big goals last year, will form a vital part of the deep Brown offense. Head coach Roger Grillo did not dress any of his six freshmen. Apparently, that might become commonplace this year on a team with an excess of upper-class forwards.
“With all the players we have returning we have to just prepare for next weekend,” Grillo said. “Freshman will see some time this year. If we had five exhibitions before Harvard it would be a different story.”
The Bears got two goals in a slow first period. Pascal Denis buried the rebound of a Vince Marci shot to make it 1-0. Junior assistant captain Scott Ford added a buzzer-beater to give the Bears a 2-0 lead.
The pace of play picked up in a penalty-ridden second period. Western Ontario’s Matt Banana had the only goal of the period, cutting the lead to 2-1. At that point, sophomore Scott Rowan was in net for Brown.
Rowan played well to preserve the lead, as early in the third, much as in the rest of the game, a good deal of the action was muddled and in the Brown end. The Bears looked fatigued and slow on occasion, but the experienced lineup stayed at home and remained conservative.
Brent Robinson, a junior who led his team in scoring last season, added the first of two insurance goals in the third period. Senior forward Keith Kirley made a nice play along the boards, then fed Robinson in the slot for a wrist-shot goal.
Haggett made it 4-1 on another pretty play later in the third. After receiving a pass in the Western Ontario zone, Haggett smoked a high slapshot past Mike D’Alessandro, who made 35 saves in net.
Next Saturday the Bears host Harvard at 7 p.m. The last time Brown and Harvard squared off for real was the first round of the ECAC playoffs, in which the Crimson peppered Danis with 68 shots in a double-overtime 2-1 thriller on their way to winning the ECAC championship.