PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown came from two behind in the third period to tie Clarkson 3-3 in the regular season finale for both teams. Sophomore defenseman Gerry Burke scored the game-tying goal — his second goal in three games — with just over eight minutes to go in the game.
Both teams earned two points with a pair of ties this weekend. The Bears finished fifth, just outside a first-round bye, and will therefore host last-place Princeton next weekend as the ECAC tournament kicks off. Clarkson sneaked into a home-ice spot for the 15th year in a row — the Golden Knights will play Vermont back at Cheel Arena.
The play went back in forth, and while at times the Golden Knights were primarily on the offensive, Brown played with more discipline and energy than in Friday’s tie with St. Lawrence. Clarkson outshot the Bears 49-29 in the box score, but the game was hardly one-sided.
“I thought we played well enough to win,” said Brown head coach Roger Grillo. “I wasn’t happy with last night — tonight we played with much better intensity. Last year we learned something in the playoffs and need to take advantage of that.”
Golden Knight goaltender Matt Walsh was forced to make a number of key stops late in the third period to preserve the tie. His best save came on Brown’s Brent Robinson, who skated in uncontested from the left side, with just a few minutes left.
Brown’s Yann Danis was his usual self in the other net. He made his 46 saves look ordinary. The Knights got five shots on him in the overtime session, all of which he turned aside.
“I don’t know if we played a good full 60 minutes tonight, but we definitely came back strong,” Danis said. “We were sharper tonight [than last night] and did a good job in our end.”
Clarkson jumped out in front a little past the midway point of the first period. Sophomore Matt Syroczynski redirected a shot past Danis on the power play. Just under two minutes later sophomore blueliner Randy Jones made it 2-0. After a good shift of forechecking in Brown’s corner, Jones picked up a pass on the right side and beat Danis with a shot above his blocker and just inside the post.
The power play put Brown on the board early in the second. Paul Esdale, an offensive-minded defenseman with great stick skills, fired a shot from the point which Les Haggett tipped in to make it 2-1. Esdale had a three-point weekend, as he tallied once and added an assist last night.
But the lack of a consistent Brown forecheck left Danis under heavy fire as the game went on. Senior Keith Kirley was whistled for a brutal hit from behind on Chris Bahen. The resultant five-minute major penalty was killed well by Brown, but the Golden Knights finally cashed in late in the chance on a rebound goal by Chris Blight. Down 3-1 with 17:29 left in the game, it appeared Clarkson might put Brown away.
But the Bears responded with a big goal from Chris Swon, his second of the year. The goal came on the power play off of a face off, as a shot from the point found its way to Swon on the right doorstep. Haggett was credited with an assist.
And Burke came through with Brown’s only even strength goal of the game to make it 3-3. While he wasn’t given an assist on the play, Jarrett Robertson passed it to Burke at the top of the left circle, who shot it by Walsh to send a healthy Pollard Family Rink crowd into an uproar.
“It was a little bit of a scramble,” Burke said. “I gave a yell to Robertson when he picked up the puck and dropped down to the circle. When I saw their goalie down and I just shot it up high.”
The Bears turned it up late but couldn’t add the go-ahead goal. Clarkson played well enough to win it, but was victimized by the power play to go home with the tie.
“I thought we played well for 45 minutes tonight,” said Clarkson coach Fred Parker. “We started getting a little out of our game in the third. We had a few chances to put it away.”