CANTON, N.Y. — Mike Zbriger snapped a 2-2 tie just 25 seconds into overtime, lifting St. Lawrence University to a 3-2 win over Brown in the first game of a best-of-three ECAC Hockey League playoff series at Appleton Arena Friday night.
Zbriger’s goal came following a icing call on Brown at the start of the extra period. The Saints won the draw in the Brown end and senior T.J. Trevelyan put a shot on goal that Brown goalie Adam D’Alba kicked out. Zbriger pounced on the rebound and put it into the back of the net for his 12th goal of the season. It was the second-fastest overtime goal in ECACHL tournament history. Brown was also involved in the shortest overtime game, a 12 second extra period in a 6-5 win by Clarkson in 1970.
St. Lawrence improved to 19-14-2 overall heading into Saturday’s game two. Brown, which received a 51 save effort from sophomore goaltender D’Alba, is now 4-19-7.
“That was a real battle,” said Saint coach Joe Marsh. “Brown has had our number a bit over the years and D’Alba is an outstanding goaltender. It is great to have the first one tucked away, but the series is far from over. We really had to work hard to get the win, and we are going to have to work as hard or harder in the second game tomorrow.”
St. Lawrence completely dominated the first period, outshooting Brown, 18-5, and holding the Bears to just one shot on goal for the first 15 minutes, but Brown scored the game’s first goal. Sophomore Brian McNary reached out and tipped a shot from the point by Sean Hurley over the shoulder of Saint goalie Justin Pesony on a Brown power play with 1:01 to play in the first period.
Pesony kept it a 1-0 game with 7:17 to go in the period as he stopped Brown scoring leader Jeff Prough on a breakaway, but the Bears made it a 2-0 game just under a minute later when Sean Dersch deflected a shot from the point by Paul Crosty into the lower corner of the net at 13:34 for his fifth of the season. The Saints climbed back into contention at 15:30 when freshman Kevin DeVergilio put away a third rebound for his 12th of the season to make it a 2-1 game after two periods.
An all-freshman power play came through with the tying goal just 56 seconds into the third period as defenseman Jared Ross snapped a wrist shot into the upper corner after Shawn Fensel worked the puck back to the point. It was the fourth goal of the season for Ross.
D’Alba and Pesony kept it deadlocked the rest of the way as D’Alba had 50 saves in regulation and Pesony had 25 including a trio of big power-play saves as Brown had consecutive power plays in the final seven minutes of regulation time.
“You aren’t going to score many on the first shot against D’Alba,” said Marsh. “DeVergilio’s goal and the game winner were both real persistent efforts to get to the rebound and that is what you have to do against him. We had some chances earlier in the game, but got tied up in front or the rebound bounced away from us.
“I thought Justin turned in another real big performance in our end of the ice. He has been playing with a lot of confidence down the stretch and the stop he made on Prough’s breakaway was a game-saver.”