PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown has been waiting a long time for a home playoff game and the Bears didn’t disappoint Friday night against Clarkson at Meehan Rink.
Mark Naclerio, Matt Lorito and Joey de Concilys each scored goals, while goalie Anthony Borelli (31 saves) and a stingy Brown defense did the rest to help the seventh-seeded Bears to a 3-0 win over Clarkson in the opening round of the ECAC playoffs.
It was Brown’s first home playoff game since 2005.
“It’s a good step for our program, but it’s not the ultimate step just being at home,” Brown coach Brendan Whittet said. “That was a regular-season accomplishment. Now, we have other accomplishments.”
For the most part, Clarkson generated little offensively against a Bears’ team that blocked plenty of shots and kept play to the outside for the majority of the game.
“I had simple saves all night,” Borelli said. “That was a team shutout.”
Those shots that did make it through were stopped by the senior, who posted his third shutout of the season and moved into a tie with Massachusetts-Lowell’s Connor Hellebuyck for the second-best save percentage in the nation (.946).
“If you had asked me back in November, I probably would have laughed at you and called you crazy,” said Borelli, who hadn’t played in two years entering the season. “I knew what I was capable of. It’s gone better than I thought.”
While Friday’s game showed how far Borelli has come this season, it was a low point for the Golden Knights, who have lost four in a row, including suffering three straight shutouts.
It didn’t help that Clarkson was minus leading scorer Allen MacPherson, who coach Casey Jones said was hurt late against Union last week and was day-to-day, although unlikely to return this weekend.
“When you press, sometimes you bury your head,” Jones said. “We hit a lot of shin pads. We’re lacking some poise to make maybe one additional play.”
The tenth-seeded Golden Knights (9-19-7) had a chance to take an early lead when a shot handcuffed Borelli and bounced out to Matt Zarbo on the left post, but Borelli recovered to smother the puck amidst traffic.
“I thought we were in control of the game in the first period,” Jones said. “It just came down to us not finishing.”
A tripping call against Todd Christian sent Brown (12-12-6) on its first power play of the game late in the first. The Bears converted quickly as Lorito took a Nick Lappin pass on the inner edge of the right circle and slid the puck to a crashing Naclerio on the left post, who tapped it into the open net to make it 1-0 at 15:45.
Lorito made it 2-0 at 6:25 in the third, taking a Naclerio pass and putting it Clarkson’s Greg Lewis (25 saves).
“Mark was coming down the middle and the ice and just kicked it out to me,” Lorito said. “I was just trying to put it on net and low for a rebound and I think it just squeaked under his pad and trickled into the net.”
Clarkson pulled Lewis with 2:15 left and Brown’s Dennis Robertson in the penalty box thanks to a holding call, but couldn’t get anything through the Bears’ defense.
de Concilys capped it at 19:45, grabbing the puck and firing it into the empty goal.
“We;re not done,” Lorito said. “Last year, we beat Quinnipiac the first game and ended up losing the next two. We know that we’re halfway there, but there’s a lot of work to be done tomorrow.”