Borelli

TROY, N.Y. -- Seventh-seeded Brown raced out to a three-goal lead and survived Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s comeback attempt to advance to the ECAC Hockey semifinals with a 3-2 win against the second-seeded and 16th-ranked Engineers (18-14-5, 12-7-3) in the deciding game of the best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal series Sunday at Houston Field House.

Jake Goldberg, Matt Lorito and Nick Lappin scored for the Bears (15-13-6, 7-9-6), while Anthony Borelli stopped 40 shots, including all 13 he faced in the final period.

Lorito’s goal was his 20th of the season, as he became the first Brown player since Damian Prescott to score at least 20 goals in a season. Prescott had 24 as a senior in 1997-98.

“I thought we started off pretty good,” Brown head coach Brendan Whittet said. “We were pretty decent for a period and a half and then the tide turned pretty quick. Not only did it turn, we were holding on for dear life. It’s nice to get the win and move on and it is a huge tribute to our guys. But, that was not easy. RPI has a great team. ... Their team is really good and they’re going to be really good for a long time.”

With Brown killing a penalty just 2:05 into the game, RPI looked to take an early lead, setting up in the offensive zone. Stationed back-door on the left edge of the crease, CJ Lee nearly gave RPI a 1-0 lead when he one-timed a centering feed from Matt Neal. However, Borelli slid across the goal line, from his left to his right, denying the chance with a stick-save.

Just 64 seconds into the man-advantage, an RPI penalty evened things and then eventually put the Bears on their first power play, which the Engineers killed.

Just past the midway point of the frame, the teams again took back-to-back penalties, this time 27 seconds apart, to send four players to the ice for both sides. The Bears capitalized on the 4-on-4 situation twice in a span of 50 seconds to take a 2-0 lead.

Goldberg opened the scoring at 10:56 when he took a pass from senior Chris Zaires at the inside of the right faceoff circle and sent a wrist shot on net that beat Jason Kasdorf glove-side. Dennis Robertson also assisted.

Just 50 seconds later, Lorito collected the puck in the slot after Kasdorf saved a wraparound attempt by Lappin. With Kasdorf still lying on the ice, Lorito skated toward the net and lifted the puck into the partially open net.

With a little more than two minutes left in the period, both Kasdorf and Borelli made highlight-reel saves in quick succession and on three consecutive end-to-end rushes. It started when Borelli stopped RPI’s Travis Fulton from close range. The Bears picked up the puck and raced the other way with an odd-man rush only to see Kasdorf save a chance for Matt Harlow from the edge of the crease. The Engineers’ Mark Miller skated the puck up the left wing and attempted to stuff it past Borelli at the left post, but Borelli made the save with his skate to help the Bears hold on to the 2-0 lead.

The Bears went ahead 3-0 in the second period on Lappin’s seventh goal of the season. Skating down the left wing on a 2-on-2 rush with Lappin on his right, Naclerio sent the puck through the slot for the deflection over Kasdorf’s glove just 5:06 into the period. Lorito also assisted to earn his second point.

With 2:35 left in the period, RPI got on the board when Mark McGowan knocked the puck past Borelli from the right post following back-to-back saves on chances by Lee and Fulton.

The Engineers made it a one-goal game heading into the final 20 minutes when Mike Zalewski deflected a point shot from Chris Bradley past Borelli at the right post with just 46.6 left in the second frame.

Both teams came out with energy to start the third period and Lappin nearly scored his second of the game with 5:37 gone in the frame. After collecting a lose puck just inside the blueline, Lappin skated between two RPI defensemen for a 1-on-1 with Kasdorf. He attempted a wrist shot form the top of the crease, but Kasdorf was there for the save, keeping his team within a goal.

The Engineers attempted a final comeback, outshooting Brown 13-4 in the final 20 minutes, and skating on a 5-on-5 advantage for the final 1:40, which turned into a 6-on-4 after a penalty against the Bears with 15 seconds left in the game. Brown’s penalty kill unit Garnet Hathaway, Zaires, Naclerio, Robertson and Brandon Pfeil was up to the task with Naclerio winning several key defensive zone faceoffs and the rest of the players blocking several shots.