Potent men’s hockey offense clinches first victory of season

Willman ’18 contributes game-winning goal against Union, but winner against RPI ruled no goal

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, November 16, 2015

Nick Lappin ’16 looks for the puck. Lappin contributed three goals over the weekend -- one in the contest against Union and two against RPI.

After a disappointing start to the season, the men’s hockey team needed to get positive results out of a road trip for games against Union and RPI. The last time Brown (1-3-1, 1-2-1 ECAC) traveled to New York to face those opponents, it secured its first two-win weekend of last season. And if not for a shocking, bizarre video review, the Bears would have repeated the feat this year.

After a comeback, 3-2 win against Union (3-6-3, 1-5-0), Bruno was stunned when what looked to be Max Willman’s ’18 second overtime goal of the weekend was strangely waved off following a lengthy review by referees.

An uncharacteristic first period for both Union and Brown yielded a lopsided shot count — Union had 14 to Brown’s three — but Tim Ernst ’17 shut the door, making a few impressive saves.

“He was our best player in both games, and he made the difference for us,” said captain Mark Naclerio ’16. “I couldn’t be happier for him.”

The Dutchmen broke the scoring deadlock after five minutes with a power play goal that came as a result of a game misconduct from Zack Pryzbek ’17. Union doubled its lead with another strike on the man advantage, as Brown’s struggling penalty kill was at fault again. Like last year, when Brown consistently ranked near the bottom in the entire NCAA for penalty kill percentage, this year’s team posts a measly 62.5 percent kill rate.

But Brown was able to get a crucial goal before the end of the second period, as Brandon Pfeil ’16 scored with assists from Max Gottlieb ’19 and Nick Lappin ’16. It was the Bears’ first power play goal of the season, serving as a much-needed boost for a unit that had given up more shorthanded goals than it had scored with the man advantage heading into the weekend.

Brown knocked on the door for the majority of the third period but could not get a goal past the Union defense until Lappin tied the game with just under two minutes left. Tommy Marchin ’19 got the assist on Lappin’s second goal of the year, which sent the game to overtime.

Again, Brown was able to impress offensively for the majority of the five-minute frame, just barely sneaking in the game winner with under thirty seconds left. Willman — a 2014 Buffalo Sabres draft pick — found the back of the net, giving Brown its first win and points of the campaign.

Naclerio said he thinks the Bears “just match up well” against Union and RPI. “They are both really hard working teams, and we play a similar style,” he said.

Saturday’s trip to RPI (5-4-2, 4-0-2) was under different circumstances than the previous year, as the Engineers were one of the worst teams in the league last year and this year are among the best in the conference.

Brown got off to the hotter start, surviving an early, threatening power play from the Engineers before Marchin scored off of a beautiful centering pass from Naclerio.

Riley Bourbonnais tied the game up for RPI late in the second period on the power play, sending the game into the third period even.

Brown matched its hot start to the game and then some with a fiery start to the third, as Lappin scored 27 seconds into the frame. Two minutes later, the senior doubled the Bears’ lead with another tally — his third of the weekend — on the power play. Both Lappin and the Bears’ power play had three goals on the weekend.

“We managed to move the puck well and were opportunistic on our scoring chances,” Naclerio said.

The Engineers struck back with relative ease, tying the game up at three with two goals that were separated by a mere four minutes. Brown outshot RPI in the third period but was unable to find a winner, sending the game into overtime for the second straight night.

After an RPI penalty put Brown on the power play for two minutes near the end of the overtime, Willman looked to be at the net when the puck squirted into the Engineers’ goal but was waved off initially by the officials. The replay showed what looked to be a clear goal, but video review was unavailable on the ice, forcing the refs to remain with the no-goal call. The game ended tied at three, but Brown felt angry at what it perceived as an incorrect decision.

“It’s pretty unfortunate that it played out that way,” Naclerio said. “But we know that it was a goal, and it was another point we should have had. We are going to stay positive and everything will work itself out by the end.”

The Bears look to capitalize on their momentum next week as they take on Colgate and Cornell.

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