Bears go to overtime twice

By
Sports Editor
Monday, February 1, 2010

Sixty minutes of play wasn’t enough to settle either of the men’s hockey team’s games this weekend. The Bears beat Rensselaer, 4-3, in an overtime thriller on Friday night and tied with No. 18 Union, 2-2, in another overtime battle on Saturday night.

In both games, the referees made controversial calls with just minutes left and the game on the line. On Friday night, RPI was whistled for two penalties in the last nine seconds of regulation, giving Brown a 1:54 five-on-three power play in overtime. Tri-captain Aaron Volpatti ’10 took advantage of the opportunity and scored the game-winner 47 seconds into the extra period.

The officials made “interesting choice calls down the stretch,” RPI Head Coach Seth Appert said.

On Saturday, when the Bears came back from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime, the officials made another controversial call, this time against Brown.

Harry Zolnierczyk ’11 was sent to the penalty box after crashing into Union’s goalie with 1:54 left in overtime. The penalty put Union on the power play for the rest of the night.

“I thought our guy did a good job,” Head Coach Brendan Whittet said. “I thought Harry drove the net like we teach him to, but what are you going to do?”

Despite the man advantage, Union couldn’t find the back of the net, so the game ended in a tie.

“You get bounces that go both ways,” said forward Jack Maclellan ’12. “Last night, we got one that went in our favor. Tonight, we got one against us, so I mean, in both situations, basically it’s just executing your special teams.”

Brown 4, RPI 3 (OT)
Brown’s special teams have not been its strong point this season. The Bears’ power-play unit has scored on just 12.5 percent of its chances this season, which makes it the worst in the ECAC.

“We have some issues right now when we’re on the power play,” Whittet said. “It’s almost like a momentum killer, and I think the guys are just thinking too much.”

So when the Bears went on a five-on-three power play to begin overtime, a goal wasn’t certain.

But 47 seconds after the puck dropped, Volpatti scored Brown’s lone power-play goal of the night. It couldn’t have come at a better time for the Bears.

Brown 2, No. 18 Union 2 (OT)
Though the Bears’ power play won the RPI game, it was their penalty kill that had to come up big on Saturday night.

The penalty kill unit got off to a rough start, as the Bears took four penalties in the first period and let in two power-play goals to go down 2-0.

But Brown scored two second-period goals, evening the score heading into the third period. Both goals — the first by Maclellan and the second by Fernandez — came from point-blank range, with lots of traffic around the net.

The game remained tied for the rest of regulation and into overtime.

With 1:54 left in the extra period, the Brown penalty kill was charged with stopping theUnion power play, which had been 40 percent successful on that night.

Union almost ended the game when forward Kelly Zajac came charging down the slot and received a pass from the right. He one-timed the puck, but goalie Michael Clemente ’12 made the kick save just in time.

“It was unbelievable,” Whittet said of Clemente’s save.

The Bears — who are currently ninth in the league — added three points this weekend to their season total, which determines seeding for the ECAC Hockey Tournament at the end of the year.

“That point that we earned tonight is going to be very, very important at the end of this season,” Whittet said.