PROVIDENCE, RI – Cornell scored twice in the opening period and never looked back en route to a 4-1 win over the Brown men's hockey team (10-12-6, 6-9-6) in a pivotal ECAC Hockey contest Friday evening at Meehan Auditorium. With the win, the Big Red (12-13-3, 8-10-3) leapt the Bears in the standings, pushing Brown into the 9-12 range and out of positioning for home ice for next weekend's ECAC First Round.
The Bears can still earn a coveted home series with a win over Colgate Saturday afternoon, but will now need help from Cornell or Clarkson, which sit one point ahead of the Bears and hold the final two home ice slots. The Raiders, who lost to Yale on Friday evening, can no longer catch the Bears and will finish in either 11th or 12th place.
"We played a really good hockey team tonight that doesn't beat themselves and we coughed it up," said head coach Brendan Whittet '94. "We made some poor, poor decisions to force things that weren't there. The guys we rely on to perform did not perform so we got exactly what we deserved."
The Bears fell behind at the 8:33 mark of the first period on a bit of fluky goal. After senior Anthony Borelli (Grand Island, NY) made a save on an attempt Greg Miller, the puck settled in the paint with Borelli out of position. Brown's defense quickly cleared the puck, but Christian Hilbrich threw the puck back towards the goal from behind the net and it deflected off something in front and past Borelli.
The Big Red extended their lead to 2-0 at 14:49 when Dustin Mowrey one-timed the puck past Borelli from the top of the crease on a feed by Joakim Ryan.
In a period largely dominated by Brown, it was Cornell that would score in the middle frame, as Braden Birch fired a blast from the left point following a faceoff win by Erik Axell at 14:28. Borelli appeared to have made the save on the shot, but the puck trickled behind him and over the line, as the Big Red took a 3-0 lead heading in the final 20 minutes.
Brown had a multitude of chances earlier in the period, but could not get one past Andy Iles. Just 1:30 into the second period, sophomore Matt Lorito (Oakville, Ontario) and freshman Nick Lappin (Geneva, IL) just missed converting a two-on-one rush. In the only power play of the frame, junior Jake Goldberg (Langhorne, PA) came streaking down the left circle and had Iles beat, backdoor, but his shot to the near post went just wide. Following a faceoff win by the Bears after Goldberg's near miss, Iles made a great save, sliding from post to post, to save a deflection by freshman Joe Prescott (Norwell, MA).
Just prior to the midway point of the period, and with the score still 2-0 in favor of Cornell, Lappin fed Lorito in the slot, but his wrister from the hashes, which had Iles beat glove-side, hit the post and deflected away.
The Bears finally broke through just 2:44 into the third period on freshman Mark Naclerio's (Milford, CT) fourth goal of the season. Junior Dennis Robertson (Fort St. John, British Columbia) fed junior Michael Juola (Lake Forest, CA) in the Bears' defensive zone and Juola carried the puck the length of the ice along the left wing, skating it behind the net and attempting a wrap-around. After running into a Cornell defenseman, Juola spun around and skated towards the right halfwall, before sending the puck towards the goal, for the deflection by Naclerio.
Brown continued to pressure for its second goal, but a give-away in the neutral zone led to a two-on-one break for the Big Red. Miller carried the puck in along the left wing and fed Brian Ferlin on his right, for the fourth goal of the evening with 9:58 left to play.
For the game, Brown outshot Cornell, 32-24. Iles recorded 31 saves, while Borelli stopped 20 for the Bears.
Brown has a short turn-around and will host Colgate in a 4:00 p.m. contest at Meehan Auditorium. The Bears will recognize their six seniors prior to the start of the game.
CORNELL 2 1 1 x - 4
BROWN 0 0 1 x - 1
First period – C, Hilbrich (Miller), 8:33; C, Mowrey (Ryan), 14:49. Penalties – C, 0-0; B, 0-0.
Second period – C, Birch (Axell), 14:28. Penalties – C, 1-2; B, 0-0.
Third Period – B, Naclerio (Juola, Robertson), 2:44; C, Ferlin (Miller, Lowry), 10:02. Penalties – C, 1-2; B, 1-2.
C, Iles (60:00), 11-12-8-x – 31; B, Borelli (60:00), 10-5-5-x – 20.
Pictured: Mark Naclerio '16. Photo by DSPics.net.