TROY, NY – Second-seeded and 16th-ranked RPI (18-13-5, 12-7-3) got out to a 2-0 lead and then broke open a 2-2 tie with four unanswered goals to earn a 6-2 win over the seventh-seeded Brown men's hockey team (14-13-6, 7-9-6) in game two of the best-of-three ECAC Quarterfinal series Saturday evening at Houston Field House. The win evened the series at one game apiece, as the teams will face each other Sunday night in a deciding game with the winner advancing to next weekend's ECAC Hockey semifinals in Atlantic City.
"I didn't think we were very good," said head coach Brendan Whittet '94. "I think we were just a little off. RPI played great. It was still a 3-2 game, a one-goal game, going into the third. They took it to us in the third and they got a big win, which is what they earned."
The two teams were scoreless through the first 20 minutes with RPI outshooting Brown, 12-8, in the frame. Just past the midway point of the period, junior Michael Juola (Lake Forest, CA) looked to get the Bears on the board, skating in on a two-on-one with sophomore Matt Harlow (Bridgewater, MA) on his left. He carried the puck into the zone and opted to shoot from the inside of the right circle. The rebound went right to Harlow, back door, after Rensselaer goalie Jason Kasdorf made a kick save, but Harlow couldn't corral the puck for a shot at a partially open net.
With 2:49 remaining in the period, the Bears went up on an extended power play after RPI's Milos Bubela was issued a five-minute elbowing penalty and a game misconduct. Freshman Nick Lappin (Geneva, IL) had Brown's best chance, collecting the puck in the high slot, before skating through two RPI defensemen, and unleashing a back-hander that missed just wide to the right of the net.
The Bears opened the second period with 2:11 remaining on the Bubela penalty, but just 1:10 into the frame were called for too many men on the ice, negating the final 1:01 of the advantage.
The Engineers broke the scoreless tie at 5:39 of the second when CJ Lee fired a low wrist shot form the inside of the left faceoff circle that beat senior Anthony Borelli (Grand Island, NY) to the far corner.
Less than two minutes later, following a Bears' offensive-zone faceoff, RPI skated into the Brown zone on a three-on-one break. With junior Dennis Robertson (Fort St. John, British Columbia) the lone defenseman back with Borelli, he made a beautiful play to break up the Engineers' pass and end the scoring threat. Borelli then came up with a big glove save less than a minute later, robbing Lee of his second of the game to keep the Bears within a goal.
The Engineers doubled their lead at the 9:09 mark of the second when Curtis Leonard collected the puck just inside the blueline from Matt Neal and fired it past Borelli glove-side low.
Following the Leonard goal, play became very physical on both sides, as the teams combined for 19 minutes in penalties in a span of three minutes. A slashing call against RPI's Luke Curadi put Brown on its second power play and just 29 seconds in, sophomore leading scorer Matt Lorito (Oakville, Ontario) got the Bears on the board when he took a pass from freshman Brandon Pfeil (West Vancouver, British Columbia) at the outside of the right faceoff circle and beat Kasdorf for his 19th goal of the season.
Just 2:34 later, and after a series of hits from both teams, Curadi was issued a boarding penalty when he drove junior Mark Hourihan (Lynnfield, MA) into the boards in the Bears' offensive zone. However, 25 seconds into the power play, Robertson was issued a five-minute for kneeing and a game misconduct, which would result in an Engineers' power play for 3:35.
"Losing Dennis was hard because he plays a lot of minutes for us," said Whittet. "He is by far our best defenseman and one of the best in the league. So to lose him was a hard thing, but other guys have to step up.
Senior Chris Zaires (Aberdeen, NJ) tied the game at 2-2 just 11 seconds after Brown went on the penalty kill, keeping the puck on a two-on-one with junior Garnet Hathaway (Kennebunkport, ME) and beating Kasdorf from close range for his seventh of the year.
The Bears were relentless on the kill following the goal and came within 13 seconds of killing off the extended power play chance, but Jacob Laliberte regained the one-goal lead for the Engineers, taking a drop pass from Neal and firing it past Borelli with just 28.9 seconds left in the period.
Rensselaer extended its lead to 4-2 just 5:59 into the third period when Mike Zalewski's shot from in close on a wrap around beat Borelli five-hole. Zalewski scored his second of the night just 2:39 later, knocking in his own rebound after Borelli could not cover the puck with a scrum in front. Following the goal, junior Marco De Filippo (Auronzo Di Cadore, Italy) replaced Borelli in net.
Greg Burgdoerfer capped the scoring with a goal at 19:51 to account for the 6-2 final.
In all, Borelli finished with 27 saves, allowing five goals, in 48:38, while De Filippo made four saves, allowing one goal, in 11:22. Kasdorf had 27 for the Engineers. Brown was 1-3 on the man-advantage, while RPI was 1-4.
Brown and RPI face off against each other in the deciding game of the best-of-three series tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m.
BROWN 0 2 0 x - 2
RENSSELAER 0 3 3 x - 6
First period – No Scoring. Penalties – B, 0-0; R, 2-15.
Second period – R, Lee (Miller, Fulton), 5:39; R, Leonard (Neal, Higgs), 9:09; B, Lorito (Pfeil, Robertson), PP, 11:45; B, Zaires (Hathaway), SH, 16:40; R, Laliberte (Neal, Higgs), PP, 19:31. Penalties – B, 3-17; R, 2-4.
Third Period – R, Zalewski (McGowan), 5:59; R, Zalewski (McGowan, Neal), 8:38; R, Burgdoerfer (McGowan, Rogic), 19:51. Penalties – B, 3-6; R, 1-2.
B, Borelli (48:38), 12-12-3-x – 27; B, De Fillippo (11:22), x-x-4-x – 4; R, Kasdorf (60:00), 8-10-9-x – 27.
Pictured: Matt Lorito '15. Photo by DSPics.net.