Disappointing weekend sees men’s hockey fall to 11th in ECAC

Loss to Quinnipiac, tie with Princeton mean Brown to travel to RPI for playoffs’ first round

Sports Editor
Monday, February 29, 2016

Nick Lappin ’16 looks for a pass. The senior, who has played an instrumental role in the offense this year, was held scoreless in back-to-back games for the first time this season in tilts against Quinnipiac and Princeton.

Last season, the men’s hockey team built some momentum heading into the playoffs, going on the road and tying league-leaders Quinnipiac before clobbering Princeton by a score of 4-1.

This year, the Bears (5-17-7, 3-13-6 ECAC) had no such luck in their last two-game series before the postseason, falling to the No. 1 Bobcats (25-2-7, 16-1-5) 4-1 and allowing a last-second goal to the Tigers (5-21-3, 3-16-3) to force a tie.

Brown came into the weekend as the No. 10 seed up a point on Colgate, looking to avoid a matchup with Dartmouth in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. The Bears have lost to the Big Green five straight times, including by scores of 6-3 and 7-3 this year.

But with the ECAC regular season title on the line, Quinnipiac left no room for the Bears to ruin its season. An early penalty to Max Gottlieb ’19 led to a Travis St. Denis power play goal, highlighting Brown’s abysmal 75 percent penalty kill percentage. Brown’s penalty kill is even worse in conference play, ranking last in the conference with a 73.3 percent success rate. But the Bears were 6-for-7 on the weekend, even scoring their first shorthanded goal of the season against Princeton.

The Bears received another boost as Max Willman ’18 — initially ruled out for the season with a broken hand — was back in the lineup after doctors had told him he could play with a cast on his hand.

“Obviously that’s huge moving forward,” said captain Mark Naclerio ’16. “He’s a really big part of our lineup and definitely a guy that can create for us.”

The gap in talent between the Bobcats and the Bears was evident throughout the first two periods, as Quinnipiac outshot Bruno 25-14. Tim Clifton gave the Bobcats a 2-0 advantage through the first two frames before Kevin McKernan opened the third period to put the game out of reach.

“We did not have our best effort,” Naclerio said. “Quinnipiac’s a really good defensive team, but we need to do a better job in getting more scoring chances in front of the net.”

Davey Middleton ’17 scored the lone goal of the game against Quinnipiac, his first of two on the weekend.

Meanwhile, Colgate won its first game against RPI, moving Brown back down to the 11 seed — one point behind the Raiders.

Middleton notched his second tally of the weekend with a shorthanded goal against the Tigers, and Tyler Bird ’18 added another on the power play. Brown went into the third period with a 2-1 lead over the cellar-dwelling Tigers.

The Bears almost escaped with the win, holding off Princeton for 19 minutes and 53 seconds of the frame before Max Veronneau tied the game with seven seconds left. It was the second game in two weeks in which Brown let up a game-tying goal with 10 seconds or less to play. The overtime was scoreless, giving Brown a tie against the league’s worst team.

“It was disappointing,” Naclerio said. “We really need to learn how to close games out. We were leading since the second period on, so to not get the win is disappointing. Hopefully we’ll have a good week of practice heading into the weekend.”

But because Colgate beat Union, settling for the tie instead of the win had no effect on Brown’s place in the conference standings. Rensselaer’s tie against Cornell pushed it past Dartmouth for the sixth spot, putting the Engineers in place to host Bruno next weekend.

“They’re a good team, but we think we match up well with them,” Naclerio said. “My freshman year, we went there and won our series in three games, so we think we can do that again.”

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