PROVIDENCE — In a back and forth game at Meehan Auditorium Saturday, Brown (10-14-5 overall, 8-12-2 in the ECAC) skated to a 6-4 victory over Colgate (7-24-3, 4-15-3).
The Bears picked up four points this weekend, but were unable to get the help they needed from Clarkson and Quinnipiac to lock up home ice in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. Bruno will travel to Hamden to take on Quinnipiac, while Colgate is set to travel to in-state rival RPI.
“I thought we had a good weekend,” said Brown head coach Brendan Whittet. “We did what we had to do. We had to try to win hockey games, and I thought we played pretty good hockey. We had stretches tonight where I thought we got away on the defensive side, but we scored six goals and did a lot of good things.”
“It was a scrappy game,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “I didn’t think our energy level was what it should be in a game where we’re trying to build some momentum going into the playoffs, coming off a pretty good effort last night at Yale. But Brown’s a desperate team. They wanted home ice and they played like they wanted home ice. They were better than us tonight.”
The Bears’ offensive attack was led by Harry Zolniercyzk and Jarred Smith, both of whom netted two goals. For Zolniercyzk, it was the second night in a row that he found the back of the net on two occasions, as Friday he led Brown to an upset victory over Cornell with two sensational scores.
“I’m happy because it’s senior weekend and I thought our seniors all played great,” Whittet said when asked about his captain’s play. “Harry’s a senior and a captain and a guy we look to, and the onus falls on those guys to show up, and he had a good weekend in the scoring department.”
Smith was the surprise hero of the night. The two goals were the first scores of the season for the junior from Pepper Pike, Ohio, and his second tally clinched the game with under two minutes to play.
“Jarred’s a guy that comes to work every day,” Whittet said. “He’s a guy that’s got a good stick around the net. He was rewarded tonight by going to the net and shooting pucks and I was happy for him. He’s been up and down this year through no fault of his own and I think he’s found a home in that line that he’s in.”
Brown struck first at 7:41 when defenseman Michael Wolff drilled home a shot from long range. Wolff’s strike, from just outside the right faceoff circle, clipped off the left pipe and in past an unsuspecting Colgate goalie Eric Mihalik.
Colgate pulled even just four minutes later. On a five-on-three advantage, Raiders forward Francois Brisebois one-timed home an Austin Smith pass to tie the score at 1-1 midway through the first period.
Brown bounced back and regained the lead with just over seven minutes left in the period. Jesse Fratkin’s slapshot hit the crossbar before bouncing down and out of the net. Originally, the referees signaled no goal, but upon convening determined that the puck had bounced over the line and in the net before trickling out into the crease.
The Bears added on to their lead on the power play in the early going of the second period. Stationed in front of the Colgate net, Zolniercyzk redirected a long-range Robertson shot into the top of the net, putting his team up 3-1.
The Raiders got one back, though, on a crafty finish by Mark Nasca. The junior winger was able to redirect a crossing pass from Mike McCann into the air and past Brown goalie Mike Clemente.
Not to be outdone by his spectacular finish in Friday night’s game against Cornell, Zolniercyzk again got himself on the highlight reel—and in the process returned a two-goal advantage to his side. Zolniercyzk skated along the goal line on the left side of the goal and looked to be in no position to get off a threatening shot. Yet from the impossible angle, the Brown captain blasted a backhanded wrist shot that somehow found its way off the post and in past Mihalik to put Brown up 4-2, a lead that held for the rest of the second period.
But Colgate again pulled within one goal, this time only 37 seconds into the third period. Defenseman Jeremy Price lit the lamp on a perfectly placed wrist shot from the right faceoff circle.
The game stayed true to form when Brown pulled back ahead, 5-3, less than two minutes later. This time it was Smith who found the back of the net, slamming home a strong finish from just outside the left faceoff circle.
Just minutes later while on the power play, Colgate again got a goal back on another redirection from just outside the crease. Brown looked like it was just about to successfully complete the kill, but Raider winger Kurtis Bartliff tipped the puck in to make the score 5-4.
With only 1:48 left to play, Brown regained its two-goal advantage for the final time, and locked up the points. Smith scored his second goal of the game (and season), putting the back and forth game at long last out of reach.
The loss is Colgate’s twenty fourth of the year, but the Raiders will look to build off a competitive last few weeks to try to score an upset in the playoffs.
“We’ve played our best hockey in the last three weeks,” Vaughan said. “We know now that the records don’t matter. You’re in a playoff series. We know in this league that there’s not a lot of difference from top to bottom. So our focus has to be on our opponent next week and not about what’s happened up to this point.”
Brown is disappointed to not host a playoff game—something they haven’t done since the 2004-2005 season—but will ride a two-game win streak into Hamden.
“We tied them twice, and they’re a good hockey team,” Whittet said. “We’re on the road. We’re going to have to play really smart hockey. We’re going to have to stay out of the box—they have a good power play. We’re going to have to work every bit as hard as I know that they’re going to. It’ll be a great series and we’re just looking forward to the challenge of going into their rink and trying to compete.”