College Hockey:
Gritty Brown squad downs Dartmouth at Liberty Invitational

Brown celebrates a goal in its 5-3 victory over Dartmouth on Saturday (photo: Shelley M. Szwast).

NEWARK, N.J. — Brown’s top line continued its dominant weekend and the Bears kept their hot start going Saturday.

After beating reigning national champion Yale on Friday, Brown topped Dartmouth 5-3. Both games were a part of the Princeton-hosted Liberty Hockey Invitational held at the Prudential Center.

Much as Dartmouth dominated Princeton in their first period of play last night, Brown came out and took it to the Big Green early.

The Bears struck first just 26 seconds in when sophomore defenseman Brandon Pfeil snuck one past senior goaltender Cab Morris blocker side to make it 1-0.

Dartmouth’s slow start didn’t hinder the Big Green, according to coach Bob Gaudet.

“It wasn’t like there was a lot of stuff going,” Gaudet said. “I thought we defended really well. The whole first period, there wasn’t much happening. Our boys were a little tired, with a four o’clock game coming after a game last night, but it wasn’t like we didn’t play hard and I thought we did some really good things.”

The Big Green came out a bit re-energized in the second, getting an early goal of their own when Troy Crema tipped an Andy Simpson shot to tie the game.

The Bears struck right back to regain their lead just 11 seconds later. A turnaround shot from junior winger Matt Lorito, set up by sophomore Nick Lappin made it 2-1.

Dartmouth continued to play better as the second went along, however, and notched a power-play goal to even things up. Their man-advantage had been dormant in the first, but they got it in gear in the second. Junior winger Eric Neiley gathered a rebound and an open net and made no mistake.

The teams traded power-play goals in the first half of the third.

The narrative of Dartmouth’s inability to stop the top line of Matt Lorito, Mark Naclerio and Nick Lappin continued as they struck again on the power play. Lappin scored his second of the weekend to make it 3-2. However, the Big Green continued to get their power play in gear as junior winger Brandon McNally tipped home sophomore defenseman Brent Patterson’s point shot to even things at three.

One more time, however, the Brown big line of Lorito-Naclerio-Lappin struck as Lappin found Naclerio down the wing and even after he shanked his pass, it went through Morris’ five-hole. Naclerio also put up three assists in the game.

The entire Bears first line was hot this weekend, putting up 12 points in two games between Naclerio, Lorito and Lappin.

Garnet Hathaway added an empty-netter with 10 seconds left to seal the deal.

Brown coach Brandon Whittet, who put Naclerio, Lorito and Lappin together on a line last year, clearly has high expectations for them.

“You never expect that, but I know they’re a very good line, and they seem to complement each other very well,” Whittet said. “They’re our top line and I think — time will tell — one of the better lines in the ECAC and the east. Points come through doing things correctly and they did a lot of things correctly.”

Lorito sees the chemistry developing within his line.

“We’re just building off what we had going for us last year,” said Lorito. “We just tried to carry that into this year. We have good chemistry together and ever since we’ve been playing together, it’s just been building and building. We just kind of keep working hard and keep going.”

In the end, Brown gets two wins against opponents it’ll see again in league play.

“It’s a good way to start,” said Whittet. “Getting two wins is a real good thing for our program. I couldn’t tell you the last time we started off 2-0. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance, and depending on what happens with Princeton and Yale, be able to put a trophy in our case. We feel very good about what we did and the way we started. It wasn’t perfect tonight, I don’t think by any stretch we played a great game and credit to them.

“We found a way to grit out a win and in the end of the year, they count wins and losses, not how you played them.”

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