December 9, 2009

Brown closes 2009 in style

by Alan Ginsberg

What a reversal it has been for Brown. The Bears have turned things positive at just the right time, entering their 3½-week break at the end of 2009 riding a five-game winning streak after beating Princeton (3-1 Friday night), Quinnipiac (2-1 Saturday night) and AIC (5-2 Tuesday night).

The stretch — which also includes victories over Harvard and UConn last week — is Brown’s first run of five consecutive victories since the 2003-04 season. The Bears have outscored their opponents 22-6 and have now won three consecutive ECAC Hockey matchups.

Brown jumped ahead of AIC early, scoring twice in the opening 2:07 and again at 8:01, but needed an unassisted tally from junior forward Harry Zolnierczyk to take a 4-2 lead into intermission after AIC bounced back with two goals of its own. Sophomore forward Jack Maclellan led the way for the Bears, recording the team’s first tally and assisting on its next two.

Brown also came out firing against No. 4 Quinnipiac, outshooting the ECAC Hockey leaders 17-6 in the opening frame. But neither team found the net until the third period, when junior blueliner Sean Connauton’s first career goal gave the Bears their first victory over a ranked team since Feb. 3, 2007. The Bobcats were the highest-ranked team to fall to Brown since the Bears beat then-No. 2 St. Cloud State on Jan. 18, 2002.

Maclellan also keyed the victory over Princeton, tallying for the fourth consecutive game and adding an assist as Brown equaled its 2008-09 regular season win total in a single week and took its first victory over Princeton since March 2, 2007.

NEHJ Player of the Week

Sean Backman, sr., Yale

The forward scored twice as the No. 10 Bulldogs took their third win over a top-10 team by beating Quinnipiac 7-4 Friday night in the first meeting between the Connecticut schools with both ranked in the top 10.

Backman also chipped in an assist in Yale’s 4-1 victory over Princeton Saturday night, as the Bulldogs thrust themselves back into the ECAC Hockey hunt.

Looking Ahead

Union at RPI, Wednesday

The Dutchmen enter the final ECAC Hockey matchup of 2009 riding an eight-game unbeaten streak — the second-longest in the program’s Division 1 history — and are the only ECAC Hockey team undefeated in conference play at 3-0-3.

The contest is the cross-town rivals’ third of four this season, with Union having beaten the Engineers 5-4 in overtime on Nov. 28 to take the RPI Holiday Tournament title after RPI tied the game at the buzzer. The Dutchmen fell 4-3 to the Engineers, also in overtime, at home on Oct. 30.

Around ECAC Hockey

Brown

The Bears are converting just 11.1 percent of their power-play opportunities, the lowest total in ECAC Hockey by over four percentage points.

Clarkson

Sophomore defenseman Mark Borowiecki leads ECAC Hockey blueliners with 13 points.

Colgate

The Raiders’ five goals in their victory at RPI Saturday afternoon were their most at Houston Fieldhouse since a 6-3 victory on Jan. 6, 1995.

Cornell

The Big Red has the most efficient power play in the nation, leading Division 1 by over four percentage points at 32.1 percent.

Dartmouth

The Big Green is averaging just two goals per game in conference play, the lowest total in ECAC Hockey, while leading the league with 17.6 penalty minutes per game.

Harvard

The Crimson are conceding an average of 4.30 goals per game, the most in ECAC Hockey.

Princeton

The Tigers’ 2.09 goals per game is the lowest total in ECAC Hockey.

Quinnipiac

Sophomore goaltender Dan Clarke was named the Hockey Commissioners’ Association National Division 1 Player of the Month for November.

RPI

Junior forward Chase Polacek leads ECAC Hockey with 13 power-play points and is tied for the league lead in points with 22.

St. Lawrence

The Saints are killing just 71.6 percent of penalties, the lowest total in ECAC Hockey.

Union

Freshman goaltender Keith Kinkaid leads all ECAC Hockey goaltenders with a 1.71 goals-against average, a .931 save percentage and a .875 winning percentage in conference play.

Yale

Junior forward Broc Little (Rindge, N.H.) is tied atop ECAC Hockey with three game-winning goals.

Alan Ginsberg can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com.