NEW HAVEN, CT – The Brown men’s hockey team (11-18-4, 7-12-4) earned a hard-fought 3-2 victory over #6 Yale (19-8-3, 15-5-2) in game one of their best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal series. Senior Aaron Volpatti (Revelstoke, BC) and sophomores Jeff Buvinow (Turnersville, NJ) and Bobby Farnham (North Andover, MA) led the Bears with a goal and an assist apiece. The win is Brown’s first over Yale in 11 tries, as the Bulldogs had won the last 11 meetings between the schools with Brown’s last victory over Yale coming in December of 2006.
The two teams played a scoreless opening 20 minutes with both sophomore Mike Clemente (Great Falls, VA) and Yale’s Billy Blase stopping all 10 shots they faced in their respective nets. The Bears had the better chances early in the frame until a series of alternating penalties, two for Brown sandwiched around one for Yale, somewhat disrupted their flow. At the tail end of the first Yale power play, Clemente made a pair of spectacular saves, stopping Jimmy Martin and Jeff Anderson on back-to-back shots from point blank range.
Brown wasted little time in grabbing a lead, as Buvinow scored just seven seconds after the second period’s opening faceoff. Sophomore Jack Maclellan (Calgary, ALB) won the faceoff back to Buvinow on his right and the defenseman skated backwards with the puck and then up to the red line, firing a wrist shot through traffic from Brown’s side of the redline. His shot sailed past everyone and beat Blase through the five-hole for the 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, at 1:04, Volpatti gave Brown a 2-0 lead with his fifth goal in as many games. After collecting the puck at the right faceoff circle from Farnham, Buvinow skated backwards and fired a shot from the high slot that sailed wide of the net. With Blase still hugging the right post, the puck bounced off the wall right to Volpatti, who fired it into the partially open net for his 15th of the year.
The Bulldogs opened the second period with 1:25 remaining on their fifth power play chance of the night, but Brown’s aggressive penalty kill limited Yale’s power play to just a single shot, one that was blocked by the Bears’ defense.
At 3:48, the Bulldogs earned their sixth power play of the game and this time, Tom Dignard capitalized, beating Clemente over his right shoulder from the bottom of the left faceoff circle, 5:01 into the period.
The goal seemed to ignite Yale, which had an extended offensive shift following the tally. However, the Bears regained the two-goal lead at 6:18, when Farnham put away the rebound of a shot by Volpatti on a Bears’ two-on-one rush. Freshman Richie Crowley (Canton, MA) started the play when he battled a Yale player for the puck at Brown’s blueline, tipping it out of the zone to Farnham, who skated into the zone with Volpatti on his left. Farnham passed the puck to Volpatti, whose shot from the slot was saved, but Blase left a big rebound for Farham on the right and he poked it behind the goalie for the 3-1 lead.
With Brown looking to kill a five-minute penalty with 9:34 left, Farnham and Volpatti had a two-on-none short-handed chance. Farnham’s bid from the left side was denied by Blase, but the Bears drew a penalty in the process, evening things up for two minutes of the 4:11 that had remained on Yale’s five-minute man-advantage.
The score remained 3-1 in favor of Brown until late in the game when Yale pulled Blase in favor of the extra attacker with 1:12 left to play. The Bulldogs won two offensive zone faceoffs and took three shots before beating Clemente for their second goal with 37.7 left to play. It was as close as the Bulldogs would get, however, as the Bears were twice able to clear the puck in the waning seconds of the third period.
Clemente finished with 37 saves, including all 15 he faced in the second period, while Blase made 38 for the Bulldogs. Brown and Yale will face off in game two of the series tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m.
YALE 0 0 2 x - 2
First Period – No Scoring. Penalties
–B, 2-4; Y, 1-2.
Second Period – B, Buvinow (Maclellan), 0:07; B, Volpatti (Buvinow, Farnham), 1:04. Penalties – B, 3-6; Y, 2-4.
Third Period – Y, Dignard (O’Neill), PP, 5:01; B, Farnham (Volpatti, Crowley), 6:18; Y, Kearney (Dignard, Arcobello), EA, 19:22. Penalties – B, 3-17; Y, 1-2.
B, Mike Clemente (60:00) – 10-15-12-x – 37; Y, Billy Blase (58:28) – 10-10-8-x – 28.
Pictured: Bobby Farnham ’12. Photo by DSPics.net