Providence, RI — Princeton and Brown ended the regular season at Meehan Auditorium with a 5-1 Tiger shellacking of the Bears on March 2nd. Six days later, the Ivy League foes returned to the same ice in Providence to start the ECAC Playoffs. Princeton entered with two of the nation’s elite scorers and the title of reigning ECAC Champion. Brown entered with home ice and determination and the determination won out.
The opening frame saw the Bears tilt the ice their way with a 10-6 shot advantage. Tiger freshman netminder Jeremie Forget, fresh off the Princeton bench for the final two regular season games and the playoff opener, stopped all 10 shots. But Brown set the tone well.
Princeton nearly stole momentum in the second. Brady Schoo and Dorian Dawson took tripping minors and the Tiger power play, ranked fifth in the nation, had 1:31 worth of a five-on-three power play. Brown buckled down and stopped the Tigers dead in their tracks, limiting their guests to only two shots which Gavin Nieto stopped. Brown capitalized on the momentum when Chris Berger capped a playoff a faceoff with his eighth goal of the season and gave the Bears a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
The Tigers gave Nieto a push in the third with nine shots, including a few narrow misses. Junior Gavin Nieto from Yorba Linda, CA, stopped every shot he needed and his offense did the rest. Captain Max Gottlieb uncorked a wrister from atop the left circle and staked the Bears to a 2-0 lead with 2:23 left. Twenty-one seconds later, freshman Justin Jallen, of St. Paul, MN, finished the night with an empty netter for his seventh of the season and a 3-0 Brown win.
Princeton drops to 10-17-3. This is only the fourth time the Tigers have been shutout this season and first since January 12th against Dartmouth. Jeremie Forget impressed again with 33 saves on 35 shots faced.
Brown improves to 12-13-5. Nieto stopped 21 Tiger shots for his second shutout of the season and his collegiate career. Brent Beaudoin had primary assists on both the Gottlieb and Jallen goals, making for his fourth multi-point and first multi-assist game this season.
Head Coach Brendan Whittet was pleased but focused after the game.
“I thought we played great hockey,” Whittet said. “I thought we played really hard-nosed, really defensive playoff hockey. Got a little squirrelly in the third. The good thing is we have some very good young players that didn’t play young at all. They played very confidently and with a lot of energy. It was pretty much a complete game. It’s very hard to end someone’s season. But we’ll come back. We’ll refocus. We’ll put this one behind us, and understand we need another win to move on. I know they’ll bring it; we’re talking about the defending ECAC Champion.”
Brown leads 1-0 in the first home playoff series since a run to the ECAC Championship game back in 2013. The Bears go for their first series win in six years on Saturday night back at Meehan Auditorium. Puck drops at 7 pm.