STORRS, CT – After falling behind, 2-0, to #18 Minnesota State (11-6-2), freshman Mark Naclerio (Milford, CT) brought the Brown men's hockey team (3-6-4) to within a goal late in the game, but the Bears' come-back attempt came up just short as the Mavericks tacked on an empty net goal with four seconds remaining to earn a 3-1 win in First Round action of the 2012 UConn Hockey Classic.
"I thought we worked really hard," said head coach Brendan Whittet '94. "It was a real defensive battle. There wasn't a lot of opportunity on either side. We are so stuck in a rut of scoring one goal, two goals; it is hard to win. We would have had to win this game 1-0 tonight, which is a really tough recipe to win hockey games. We have to find a way to generate more offense and be better on the penalty kill. It was not for lack of determination or effort it was from a lack of execution offensively."
Brown fell behind, 1-0, after the opening 20 minutes of play, after Zach Palmquist scored a bit of a fluky goal for the Mavericks at the 14:31 mark of the period. After collecting the puck from Taylor Herndon, Palmquist fired a hard shot from the left point. The puck sailed over the net, hit the glass directly behind senior Anthony Borelli (Grand Island, NY), and then ricocheted back out in front. Borelli reached up behind him in an attempt to glove the puck out of the air, but it fell into the crease and trickled into give Minnesota State the advantage.
The two teams played a scoreless second period with both sides narrowly missing the back of the net. Brown nearly tied the game with 8:30 left in the period when senior Jeff Ryan (Media, PA) collected a lose puck in the slot and skated down the left side. Uncontested, he fired a wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle, but the puck clanged off the far post on what was Brown's best chance of the period.
Then just four minutes later, Minnesota State's Jean-Paul Lafontaine skated in all alone after the Bears were caught in a line change. With just Borelli to beat, Lafontaine's shot from the slot hit the post, holding the score at 1-0 through 40 minutes.
The Mavericks went up on their first power play chance at 8:33 of the third period and needed just 29 seconds to increase their lead to 2-0. Matt Leitner started the play from the left side when he passed the puck diagonally to Lafontaine, back-door. Before Borelli could get back into position, Lafontaine one-timed the feed into the partially open net for his fifth goal of the year at 9:02 of the period.
With Minnesota State on its second power play of the game just 3:40 after the goal, Naclerio, playing in his home state, got Brown on the board 34 seconds into the penalty kill with a short-handed goal. Junior Garnet Hathaway (Kennebunkport, ME) made a great play in the Bears' defensive end and played the puck ahead for himself on the right wing. After skating into the zone, he found Naclerio with a centering feed from the halfwall and Naclerio deflected the puck into the back of the net, cutting the lead to 2-1 at 13:16.
Whittet called a timeout with 1:46 remaining and the Bears pulled Borelli in favor of the extra skater with 1:26 left in the game. Brown nearly put the tying goal into the net with 11 seconds left after a scramble in front. However, Minnesota State was able to recover and Lafontaine sent the puck nearly the length of the ice and into the open net with four seconds remaining for the 3-1 final.
For the game, Borelli finished with 24 saves, while Stephon Williams recorded 18 saves for the Mavericks.
Brown continues action at the UConn Hockey Classic tomorrow afternoon when it faces the loser of the UConn-AIC game at 4:05 p.m. The game is the final non-league contest of the year for the Bears, save an exhibition game against the Russian Red Stars on Wednesday, January 2nd, as Brown will close its season with 15 straight games against ECAC Hockey foes.
#18 MINNESOTA STATE 1 0 2 x - 3
BROWN 0 0 1 x - 1
First period – M, Palmquist (Herndon, Gaede), 14:31. Penalties – M, 0-0; B, 0-0.
Second period – No Scoring. Penalties – M, 1-2; B, 0-0.
Third Period – M, Lafontaine (Leitner, Lehrke), PP, 9:02; B, Naclerio (Hathaway), SH, 13:16; M, Lafontaine (unassisted), EN, 19:56. Penalties – M, 0-0; B, 2-4.
M, Stephon Williams (60:00), 11-4-3-x – 18; B, Anthony Borelli (58:35), 12-5-7-x – 24.
Pictured: Mark Naclerio '16. Photo by DSPics.net.