PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Brown net was wide open for Union’s Olivier Bouchard with 1:17 left in the third period and the Dutchmen down a goal.
All Bouchard had to do was tap Matt Vagvolgyi’s right-point pass by goalie Adam D’Alba, who was caught out of position. But Bouchard pushed it past the right side of the net. Any hopes of tying the score and sending the game into overtime ended right there.
Moments late, Gerry Burke sealed Brown’s 2-0 ECACHL win Saturday over the first-place Dutchmen at Meehan Auditorium with an empty-net goal.
“I had the puck on my stick,” a dejected Bouchard said. “It was just a reflex, and I missed the net. It’s terrible.
“What happened at the end shouldn’t happen. It won’t happen ever again. We would have tied it, and won it in OT.”
Union (6-2 ECACHL, 7-8-1 overall) fired 36 shots on D’Alba. But the freshman netminder stopped them all for his first career shutout. D’Alba is emerging as the heir apparent to Yann Danis, who was the ECACHL Player of the Year, an All-America and a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
“He played tremendous,” Brown coach Roger Grillo said. “He’s played tremendous since he got in. He obviously got us two points. He was the difference.”
At the time of Bouchard’s miss, D’Alba didn’t realize how lucky he was to get the shutout.
“There is no time for thoughts,” D’Alba said. “But it’s a thing you look back on and [think], `Oh my God.’ At the time, obviously you’re so wrapped up in the game that you’re like, `OK, he missed it, and move on.’”
The Dutchmen had other chances to get a puck by D’Alba. Scott Seney couldn’t put in a rebound of a Michael Benyon shot 1:08 into the game. Jonathan Poirier hit the post with a shot early in the second period. D’Alba stopped a Seney one-timer in the slot midway through the third period, and then later stopped a Poirier redirection of a Benyon shot.
“[Brown] had a lot of puck luck tonight, especially when we missed the empty net with the goalie pulled,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “Hopefully, these bounces even out in the end.”
Brown took advantage of a bad Union line change to score a power-play goal late in the first period.
After the Dutchmen dumped the puck into the Bears’ zone, D’Alba played the puck to Paul Baier. The Brown defenseman then fired a pass to Les Haggett at the Union blue line. With four Dutchmen desperately trying to get on the ice, Haggett blasted a shot from the left wing over goalie Justin Mrazek’s glove hand.
“I thought we played a great game tonight,” Leaman said. “I thought we got caught on one line shift on the penalty kill. I thought that was the only major mistake we had in the game.”
The Dutchmen play their last games before Christmas next weekend when they go to Wayne State for two games. … Senior assistant captain Joel Beal was one of three healthy scratches by Leaman. The others were forward Matt Blabac and defenseman Scott Wheeler. Inserted into the lineup were forwards Torren Delforte and Jason Visser, and defenseman Jason Ortolano. … Union was shut out for the second time this season. It lost to Bowling Green, 1-0, Oct. 23.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.