HAMDEN, Conn. — Ryan Jacobson might be a freshman, but he knows his history.
The Brown forward was well aware of his team’s prior postseason struggles against Quinnipiac entering Friday’s first round game at High Point Solutions Arena in Hamden.
And he had hand in erasing them.
Jacobon’s goal at 8:51 in the second period proved to be the game-winner as Brown beat the fifth-seed Bobcats, 4-1. It was the Bears’ first-ever playoff wins against Quinnipiac.
“We used it as fuel on the fire,” Jacobson said of the past failures against Quinnipiac, who swept the Bears in the first round last season, as well as in 2008. “Guys talked about how they shut us out last year and left a bad taste in their mouth. We didn’t forget.”
Jacobson’s goal came off a faceoff in the Bears’ zone. Matt Lorito chipped it up to Jack Maclellan, who broke away with Jacobson for a two-one-rush.
“Jack made a pass right my tape and I just put it home,” Jacobson said “It was a good play.”
Brown finished the regular season entrenched in last thanks to an 0-8-2 skid to close the year, but was eager to prove themselves against an aggressive Quinnipiac team that clogged the middle looking for turnovers.
“It really comes down to effort,” Jacobson said of breaking through the Bobcats’ defense. “We want to prove people wrong. We don’t believe we’re a last-place team. We’ve been in some close games, and had some penalties; mix in a few bad mistakes, and you end up in last place.
While the Bears motored all over the ice, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold was befuddled by the Bobcats’ lackadaisical play.
“I’m literally shocked at how poorly we played tonight,” Pecknold said. “We had some guys who weren’t ready to play and panicked once they realized they weren’t ready.”
Penalties against Quinnipiac’s Bryce Van Brabant (boarding) and Zack Currie (hooking) gave Brown 58 seconds of a five-on-three power play late in the third.
However, goalie Eric Hartzell (26 saves) and the Bobcats’ defense were up to task, holding the Bears off the board, and even generating a short-handed look when Van Brabant sped out of the box and grabbed the loose puck in the neutral zone.
Brown quickly transitioned to the backcheck and defender Dennis Robertson broke up the short-handed bid by the Quinnipiac freshman.
“He’s been great all year,” Brown goalie Mike Clemente (25 saves) said of Robertson. “Our whole D-core has done a really good job of limiting the number of shots we’ve given up all year. ”
Any momentum the Bobcats had from stifling Brown’s five-on-three advantage was erased when Chris Zaires tipped in a Jarred Smith shot to make it 3-1 at 17:12.
“That helped us a lot,” Brown coach Brendan Whittet said of Zaires’ goal. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves with the five-on-three; we wanted to score. Thank goodness we scored that goal and had a two-goal lead versus a one-goal lead.”
Quinnipiac pulled Hartzell late and Bobby Farnham added an empty-netter to seal Brown’s first win since Jan. 21 against Union.
Quinnipiac took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Zack Currie when the junior pounced on a rebound of a Matthew Peca shot near the left post at 13:53 in the first. The Bears tied it on Kyle Quick’s goal at 17:44.
Maclellan, Brown’s top scorer, was back in the lineup, along with defender Matt Wahl, who had been out since Feb. 3. The Bears’ captain was back after missing the last weekend of the regular season, including a 4-1 loss to Quinnipiac last Friday.
“Maclellan changed the whole face of the game,” Pecknold said. “You get to the playoffs and you can make up for a bad season in one weekend. Our guys were just lost the whole game.”
The teams resume the best of three series tomorrow at 7 p.m.