NEW HAVEN, Conn. — It took Yale a little over a period to skate off the rust formed during its first round bye, but when the Bulldogs finally got warmed up, they handed Brown a sound beating, doubling them up 4-2 in ECAC Quarterfinal action.
Denny Kearneys goal in the final seconds of the middle frame turned the tide in favor of the home team, which later struck for a pair in the third.
The sophomore stole the puck at the neutral zone and drove down deep in Browns end before losing the puck behind the net. He stuck with the play, however, and was wide open in front for the puck to bounce back onto his stick before he flipped it into the back of the net.
It was a great individual effort by Denny, said Yale coach Keith Allain. Given that it was a shorthanded goal, given that it was scored with three seconds to go, I think it had a lot of implications for the rest of the game.
That goal at the end of the second period was a total back-breaker, said Brown coach Roger Grillo. In the first half of the game, we forced some mistakes, did some nice things with the puck, but then we got away from it.
The Bears, fresh off a first-round upset of Harvard, dominated the first period, outshooting, out chancing, and ultimately outscoring Yale by a 1-0 score. Brown executed the perfect game plan of the underdog; the Bears got the puck deep, got traffic in front of Alec Richards, and got tips and rebounds, and counterpunched off of Yales miscues.
In the first half of the game we did a nice job forcing some mistakes and capitalizing on them, said Grillo.
Assistant captain Jordan Pietrus did just that when he opened the scoring at 15:57 of the first frame. He stole the puck from Sean Backman at his own blue line, raced down the ice with defenders in hot pursuit, and clanked a shot off the crossbar and behind Richards.
Brown doubled its early lead just 2:16 into the second period. Some fire wagon hockey up and down the ice ended with the puck on David Brownschildes stick with only Alec Richards between him and net. He skated in on a mini-breakaway and wristed a shot low inside the right post for a 2-0 score in favor of the visitors.
Allain wasnt concerned that an up-tempo game would lead to more mistakes like that though.
Thats the way we like to play, he said. Thats part of who we are. We have a relatively fast team and we like to play a fast game. Wed much rather be the aggressor than lay back.
It was all Yale from there on out. The Bulldogs, who had a decided advantage in both speed and skill, dominated Brown for the final 25 minutes, putting 31 shots on Clemente and scoring four goals during that span.
In the second and third period tonight we were sloppy, said Grillo. We got back to some of the bad habits that cost us a lot of games this year. We stopped skating and Yale was flying pretty good and our bad decisions ended up costing us. Yale cranked it up a notch and we didnt respond.
I thought we were playing better before they scored the second goal, certainly better than we were playing when they scored the first goal. So my message on the bench was to stick with it and itll come, said Allain.
Patrick Brosnihan was credited for Yales first goal of the evening at 11:27 of the second period. The, 6-foot-4, 225 pound seniors shot deflected off Mike Clementes pads, off a Brown defender, and into the net for an ugly, but much needed, playoff goal.
Ugly goals are what you see a lot of in playoff hockey. You need traffic and rebounds and pucks bouncing a little bit, said Allain.
While Kearneys individual play was the highlight of the game, the Bulldogs Broc Little was a standout on the ice tonight. The diminutive forward from Rindge, New Hampshire paced Yales offense, setting up countless scoring opportunities in addition to netting a goal and adding an assist on Kevin Limberts goal for a two point night.
Bears netminder Mike Clemente, fresh off of player of the week honors, stopped 31 shots in the loss and was a major factor in holding Yale off the scoreboard for the first half of the game. However, the Bulldogs strength and skill proved to be too much for the freshman goaltender.
Focusing on the second game of the series, Yale obviously aims to avoid spotting Brown an early lead and having to race from behind.
We need to grab the lead early and put our stamp on the game. Weve got to try to establish our game and be more consistent with the puck, said Allain.
In order to play its way to a deciding game on Sunday, Brown needs to find a way to bottle the first 25 minutes of game one and carry that level of play for a full 60 minutes.
Game 2 of the best-of-three quarterfinal series begins at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.