PROVIDENCE, R.I. — With RPI disappointing the crowd that came out in Troy for the Big Red Freakout by losing 7-0 to Princeton, St. Lawrence had a chance to retake control of its own destiny for fourth place in the ECAC and the final bye spot in the league playoffs with a win. Harvard was also a loser at home to Union, meaning a win for the Brown Bears would have vaulted them into a tie with the Crimson for eighth place and the final opening round home-ice playoff spot.
As it would turn out, this game ended in a 2-2 deadlock, meaning both squads unfortunately fell short of their goals and will continue to need help from other teams to get into those positions. A raucous student section full of bare-chested and intoxicated Ivy Leaguers were more than happy with their team’s three-point weekend and stayed for half an hour after the final buzzer to celebrate the careers of Brown’s seven seniors.
“The motivation is we want to play back here; we want to have home ice,” Brown coach Brandon Whittet said. “You’re talking about a program that was unanimously picked last place, by everybody, unanimously. So the fact that we’ve put ourselves in a position to try to attain home ice, we’re just going to approach it like every game, play shift by shift, and be ready to battle. Quinnipiac and Princeton will also be in playoff mode and that’s how we’ve been approaching our games down the stretch here. We want to be at home. We’re 6-1-3 in our last ten at home and it’s a great place to play.”
The Saints had carried a 2-0 lead into the third period on an even-strength goal by Alex Curran at 13:27 of the first and a short-handed tally from Mike McKenzie at 17:17 of the second.
Things were looking good for the visiting team, which was trying to rebound from a strange, hard-fought 7-5 defeat to Yale the previous night in New Haven. Brown then got a chance to grab the momentum when Kyle Flanagan pulled Jack Maclellan down on a breakaway at 11:25 of the third. Once SLU touched up on the delayed call, the referee immediately signaled for a penalty shot. It was the second penalty shot in the game, with Brown goalie Mike Clemente having already come up big to stop one for SLU earlier. Maclellan capitalized on the opportunity by putting the puck past Alex Petizian for the first time on the night.
“I haven’t had a penalty shot in I don’t know how many years,” Maclellan said. “I just tried to settle myself down and I had a move ready so I just went with it. I’m not an expert on penalty shots; maybe it’s not always the best thing to go in knowing what you’re doing because if it’s not there then you do it anyway and probably get stopped. But I kind of wanted to go five-hole and never really changed my mind, just went with it.”
With under a minute to play and Clemente on the bench, Brown got the equalizer from senior captain Devin Timberlake. Maclellan got the puck to the net on an initial shot and the rebound popped back out to Timberlake coming down the slot. He shot it as hard as he could and beat Petizian blocker side.
“That was a big goal,” Whittet said afterward. “And that was a hard, hard, hard fought game. St. Lawrence is a very well-coached team and they don’t deviate and they haven’t deviated ever since I’ve been in the league playing against them and coaching against them. That was a really hard point to get tonight. I think we’re a resilient group. Our guys didn’t put their heads down. You create your own opportunities and the guys did that. We’ve grown so much as a program and as a team this year because at the beginning of the year, that 2-0 lead could have turned into a lopsided loss. The guys now believe we should win every game and that is a huge culture and momentum shift for us as a program.”
“I think from a fan’s perspective, these (two games this weekend) were pretty entertaining,” SLU associate coach Bob Pryor said. “For us, we blew the lead in the Yale game which was a bizarre game. Then unfortunately, the same thing kind of happened tonight. Brown on Senior Night was playing with a bunch of urgency and that little bit extra. They hemmed us in there in the third; the kid made a great move on the penalty shot.”
Brown travels south to Quinnipiac and Princeton next weekend, while St. Lawrence will host Dartmouth and Harvard in Canton to close out the regular season.