Zolnierczyk’s Last-Minute Game-Winner Lifts Bears to 3-2 Win over #1 Yale, as Brown Stuns Bulldogs

Post-Game video with Zolnierczyk, Clemente & Whittet available here.

PROVIDENCE, RI –
Brown twice battled back from one-goal deficits against the nation's top team and senior Harry Zolnierczyk (Toronto, ONT) buried a breakaway with 46 seconds left in regulation as the Bears' hockey team (6-7-4, 4-5-1) stunned #1 Yale (15-2-0, 9-1-0) with a 3-2 victory on Sunday afternoon at Meehan Auditorium. The win gives Brown its first-ever modern era victory over a top-ranked team and is the highest ranked team that Brown has defeated since earning a 4-1 win over St. Cloud State, then ranked 2nd in the country, in 2002. The victory also snapped Yale's 10-game winning streak and handed the Bulldogs their first ECAC Hockey loss of the year.

Zolnierczyk, who assisted Brown's first two goals, scored the game-winner following a broken play in the Bears' defensive end. After Yale lost the puck near the right faceoff circle, Zolnierczyk pushed it ahead and won a foot race to the puck. Looking for a potential three-on-two, Zolnierczyk beat both Yale defenders to the puck, got behind them and beat Rondeau with a back-hander, stick-side, for his 11th goal of the year. 

The Bulldogs called a timeout following the goal and pulled Rondeau in favor of the extra attacker with 42 seconds left, but Brown held on in the waning minutes to earn the series split with its travel partner.

After killing two straight penalties in the opening six minutes of the game, the Bears had a golden opportunity in the 12th minute when junior Jack Maclellen (Calgary, ALB) lined up for a penalty shot after it was ruled that a Yale player covered the puck in the crease. Maclellan had Yale's Ryan Rondeau beat, but over-handled the puck and pushed it wide of the net, right, as the Bears were held off the board.

Brown's third straight penalty of the opening period came back to haunt them, as Denny Kearney converted a pass from Broc Little with just 11 seconds remaining in the man-advantage, giving Yale a 1-0 lead at 17:16.

The Bears opened the second period with 14 seconds remaining on their first power play chance of the game, and though they did not score on the man-advantage, it gave Brown the momentum it needed to tie the game. Just 27 seconds after the intermission, Zolnierczyk fed Maclellan in the slot from behind the net, and the Bears' leading scorer redirected it past Rondeau, stick-side high for his 12th goal of the year. Freshman Garnet Hathaway (Kennebunkport, ME) also earned an assist.

Despite getting outshot, 18-15, over two periods, the Bears were carrying the play and saw plenty of grade-a scoring chances. However, another Yale power play goal, scored by Brian O'Neill at 6:46 of the third, gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. After Kevin Peel's shot from the right side was blocked by junior Bobby Farnham (North Andover, MA), the rebound went straight to O'Neill at the left circle and he blasted a shot over junior Mike Clemente (Great Falls, VA) that hit the back of the net and popped out before the Bears could react. 

However, the Bears continued to battle and the top line of Maclellan, Zolnierczyk and Hathaway combined to tie the score for the second time of the afternoon. Maclellan skated the puck into the zone along the right wing and left the puck for Zolnierczyk, who fired a quick shot on Rondeau. With the puck still lose in the slot, Hathaway came in and poked it over the goal line, tying the game at 2-2 at 13:06.

With the score still tied at two, the Bulldogs went up on their sixth man-advantage of the game with 3:03 remaining. The Bears were able to kill the power play, giving up just three shots, two that were blocked and one that Clemente saved.

Just 17 seconds after returning to full strength, Zolnierczyk collected the puck on a broken play in the Bears' defensive end, before racing in for the game-winner.

Clemente recorded 27 saves, while Rondeau made 22 for the Bulldogs. Brown continues action at home next weekend when it hosts St. Lawrence and Clarkson in a pair of ECAC Hockey contests. The first meeting against both teams this season will match the Bears and the Saints in a Friday night 7:00 p.m. contest, while the Bears and Golden Knights will faceoff Saturday at 4:00.

#1 YALE                        1            0            1            x            -            2
BROWN                         0            1            2            x            -             3

First Period – Y, Kearney (Little, Matczak), PP, 17:16. Penalties – Y, 1-2; B, 3-6.

Second Period – B, Maclellan (Zolnierczyk, Hathaway), 0:27. Penalties – Y, 2-4; B, 2-12.

Third Period – Y, O'Neill (Peel, Little), PP, 6:46; B, Hathaway (Zolnierczyk, Maclellan), 13:06; B, Zolnierczyk (Brownschidle), 19:44. Penalties – Y, 1-2; B, 4-8.

Saves
Y, Ryan Rondeau (59:18) – 8-5-9-x – 22; B, Mike Clemente (60:00) – 6-11-10-x – 27.

Attendance: 1,483

Pictured: Harry Zolnierczyk '11 scores the game-winner against Yale. Photo by Raphael Bieber.