CANTON, N.Y. – Sophomore Nick Lappin (Geneva, Ill.) evened the game with 54 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, but Eric Sweetman notched the game-winner in double overtime as the ninth-seeded Bears fell at eighth-seeded St. Lawrence, 3-2, in game one of the ECAC First Round Friday evening at Appleton Arena.
Brown moved to 11-16-3 overall, while St. Lawrence improved to 14-17-4 on the season and took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. In addition to Lappin, freshman Zack Pryzbek (Niagara on the Lake, Ontario) also scored for the Bears and senior Garnet Hathaway (Kennebunkport, Maine) recorded a pair of assists. Rookie Tyler Steel racked up a career-high 43 saves in net, including 11 in the first overtime period, while Matt Weninger made 26 stops for the Saints to earn the win.
"It ended up being a real good game, but usually in overtime it's the bounce of a puck or somebody winning a battle, and credit to them they came out really hard in the second overtime," said head coach Brendan Whittet. "Steel played great, made some huge saves and gave us a chance to win."
The two teams swapped consecutive power-play opportunities midway through the first period. Brown's penalty kill stopped the Saints from developing any sort of fluidity at the blue line to hold off the league's top power-play unit, while Lappin had a shot on the other end that was turned away by Weninger to keep the game scoreless.
Brown killed off another SLU power play late in the period. Wahl broke up a pass during the power play to give Lappin the shorthanded opportunity, but Weninger stopped the shot as the teams were scoreless at the first intermission.
St. Lawrence opened up the scoring at 4:42 in the second period when Kyle Essery connected on a feed from Brian Ward to lift the Saints on top, 1-0.
Brown answered back as Pryzbek scored with six minutes left in the period for his third goal of the season. Goldberg started the play with a shot from the left circle that was turned away by Weninger, but Hathaway gained possession on the rebound and setup Pryzbek in front of the net as the Bears evened the score, 1-1.
After consecutive Brown penalties gave St. Lawrence 1:14 of 5-on-3 play, the Saints took advantage of the power-play opportunity as Greg Carey rifled a shot from the left side past Steel to lift the home side back in front, 2-1, at second intermission.
After St. Lawrence killed off a Brown power play late in the third, Steel denied a pair of chances by Alexander Dahl and Jeremy Wick to keep the Bears within a goal, and then was pulled with one minute remaining for the extra skater. Hathaway wrestled for possession along the boards and ultimately found Lappin, who blasted a shot from the right circle past the reach of Wenginer to even the score at 2-2 with 54 seconds left on the clock and force overtime.
Steel carried over his strong play into the first overtime period with 11 stops, including a pivotal six-save stretch during a St. Lawrence power play, to keep the game tied heading into double overtime.
SLU rushed out of the gate to start the second overtime period, as Sweetman scored at the 1:27 mark, playing the puck off the boards for a shot from the left circle to seal the victory.
Brown and St. Lawrence face off in the second game of the best-of-three series tomorrow evening at 7 p.m.