BOSTON — The men's ice hockey team (3-2-3, 2-1-1 ECAC), fresh off a pair of conference wins over Cornell and Colgate, played strong this week to earn ties on the road against two of the premier teams in college hockey, No. 6 New Hampshire (7-2-4) and No. 2 Boston University (7-1-5). In both games, the Bears held third-period leads but were unable to close and had to settle for draws. But the team has proven to the college hockey world that it can hang with any opponent in the country.
"For us, we're trying to build something special," said Head Coach Brendan Whittet '94. "I thought our guys have played very, very hard in difficult conditions and difficult situations over the last four games. …We're a young program, a program that's trying to reclaim former pride and glory and re-establish what Brown hockey is."
The Bears held a third-period lead on Saturday, but could not survive a number of draining penalty kills and settled for a tie with the No. 2 team in the nation. Bruno played well while shorthanded, but playing tight defense a man down can tire players over the course of a game.
"I thought we played very well for stretches of the game," Whittet said. "Our problem came from the fact that we had to kill so many penalties, self-inflicted penalties that unfortunately taxed our depth, so we had guys that played a lot of minutes."
Brown jumped out to a quick start, scoring two goals in the first three minutes of the game. At 1:25 into the first period, forward Jesse Fratkin '11 found the back of the net after he smacked home a loose puck that had been deflected into the air and batted down right in front of the net by a BU defender. Only a minute and a half later, Brown doubled its lead on a spectacular unassisted goal by forward Harry Zolnierczyk '11. The senior captain stole the puck from a Terrier defender and then beat the BU goalie between the legs on the break to give Brown the quick 2-0 advantage.
BU got on the board after defenseman Ben Rosen's first career goal as a Terrier, but several tough saves by Brown goalie Mike Clemente '12, who had a season-high 38 saves, preserved Bruno's lead after one period.
The Terriers tied up the game 4:48 into the second period. On a two-on-one, Clemente appeared to have made another great save to stop Joe Pereira's shot, but the junior netminder never fully secured the puck and it trickled over the line for a goal. BU gained its first lead of the game at 9:26 into the period while on a two-man advantage after penalties to Bobby Farnham '12 and Zolnierczyk, with the latter receiving a 10-minute major penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Brown could only weather the attack for so long, and BU forward Alex Chiasson eventually corralled a deflection and beat Clemente for the score.
But the Bears were not fazed after falling behind the nation's second-best and responded with a power-play goal by forward Jack Maclellan '12 with six minutes remaining in the second period. Farnham did great work to set up Maclellan for an easy finish.
"A couple of their guys tried to jump up and we got (the puck) behind them," Maclellan said. "Then it turned into a four-on-two … (Farnham) found me in front on a great look and I just shot it."
Early in the third, the Bears regained the lead after forward David Brownschidle '11 put back his own rebound on a great second effort. Only a minute later, though, Brown lost its captain for the game after Zolnierczyk received his second 10-minute major when he was whistled for kneeing a BU player at mid-ice.
Brown was able to kill two penalties in the period, but the relentless BU attack wore down the defense and the Terriers found their equalizer with seven minutes remaining, as Wade Megan collected an errant shot alongside the net and snuck the puck past Clemente. In the remainder of the third period and in overtime, Clemente made a number of strong saves and preserved the tie for the Bears.
"Overall, I thought both teams played well, both teams played hard," said BU Head Coach Jack Parker, who has totaled over 800 wins in his 38 years as coach of the Terriers. "We knew exactly what we were going to get from Brown. …They've been a cellar-dweller for a long time and all of a sudden are a really good team."
On Tuesday night in Durham, N.H., the Bears looked as if they had secured an upset win over UNH, leading 5-3 with two minutes remaining in the game. But the Wildcats scored twice in only 11 seconds, stunning Brown and ending the game in a tie.
This week, the Bears have demonstrated that they can play with anyone in the country and now will have to build off their strong play as they resume ECAC conference play next weekend at home against Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Whittet said he is excited to return to Meehan Auditorium after a month without a home game, but he added that playing on the road against strong teams is what the team needs to take the program to the next level.
"Sometimes it's easier to play on the road, quite honestly, especially in these buildings and against these teams, because we have nothing to lose," Whittet said. "We have expectations that we are going to perform to the highest level, because where BU is and where UNH is, that's where we want our program to be. And we won't stop until we get there."