Tie at No. 15 Cornell gives men’s hockey key point

Late power play goal squashes Brown’s first chance at conference victory since November

Sports Editor
Monday, February 15, 2016

Captain Mark Naclerio ‘16 awaits a pass near the boards. He tallied one assist in the Bears’ 3-3 tie against the Big Red Friday night.

For a men’s hockey team that has won two conference games this season, picking up a point in a 3-3 tie against No. 15 Cornell is an occasion to be celebrated.

As it stands, a point for Brown (4-16-5, 2-12-4 ECAC) could be the difference between playing at Dartmouth or Rensselaer in the first round of the playoffs. Avoiding Dartmouth would be the Bears’ goal, as the Big Green is on a five-game win streak against Bruno, including 7-3 and 6-3 drubbings this season.

Still, for a team that has not recorded a conference win since Thanksgiving, one point will not make up for a difficult season.

“I thought our team played well from top to bottom,” said captain Mark Naclerio ’16. “We were unfortunate to go down a man in the last minute, but our energy was very good, and we had a great game.”

The Bears’ penalty kill — an achilles heel each of the past two seasons — came back to bite them against Cornell (12-7-5, 7-6-4). The Big Red started the third period with a power play goal and then sandwiched two Brown tallies with a second goal on the man advantage with 10 seconds left on the clock.

Though Brown’s power play has seen much improvementin the last year, its penalty kill has remained one of the nation’s worst. Ranking last in the conference, the Bears’ kill is third-to-last in the country, ahead of newly minted Arizona State and Western Michigan.

“Our power play has been collecting a lot so far even though we’ve had few calls for us,” Naclerio said. “But the penalty kill is something that we definitely have to focus on and figure out.”

Tommy Marchin ’19 has been a brilliant bright spot in a challenging season and showcased his ability again Friday, continuing his ECAC rookie of the year campaign with another first-period goal against the Big Red. The first-year’s 13 goals are second-most on the team and eighth in the conference.

Zack Pryzbek ’17 has been a pleasant surprise for the Bears as well, scoring his fourth goal of the season to put Brown up 3-2 late in the third period. The fourth-liner is one of two players for Bruno with a positive plus-minus, boasting a plus-two along with Brandon Pfiel ’16.

“He’s been great so far,” Naclerio said. “He’s been shooting a lot and playing with high energy and playing really physically.”

Max Willman ’18 picked up the other tally for Brown, tying the game at two midway through the third period. Though the Buffalo Sabres draft pick has only two goals on the year, his eight points are more than those notched by each of his fellow NHL selections, Sam Lafferty ’18 and Tyler Bird ’18.

But it was a tale of a poor defensive effort once again, as Bruno scored three goals and failed to record the win for the sixth time this year. Along with a league-worst 3.47 goals against average, the Bears have a .884 save percentage — one of two teams in the ECAC with a save percentage under .900.

Brown looks to upend its 10-game winless streak against St. Lawrence and Clarkson at home next weekend.

“We want to win as many games as possible moving forward,” Naclerio said. “We just want to gain some momentum heading into the playoffs.”

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