PITTSBURGH — With their 2018-19 season resume, Brown University didn’t make a convincing argument to skate away with the Confluence Cup before the weekend began, holding the lowest Pairwise ranking in a field with No. 1 St. Cloud State, No. 14 Union College and host Robert Morris.
They made believers out of many with their performance on Saturday night, as they defeated their ECAC conference-mate Dutchmen, 6-3, in the championship game of the seventh annual Three Rivers Classic at PPG Paints Arena.
A four-goal first period and a third period effort kept the Union scoring chances to a minimum while generating some rink tilt themselves.
“We’re a young team that’s trying to learn how to win and how you have to go about winning,” Brown head coach Brendan Whittet said. “We go up 4-0, they score the next three and it becomes a tight game. But the nice thing is, I didn’t see the guys panic. They were confident and they stuck with what allowed us to get that 4-0 lead and they scored a huge goal in the second to come in with some momentum into that third.”
Senior forward Alex Brink led the way for the Bears with two goals, including one shorthanded, one assist while in between the pipes, goaltender Gavin Nieto stopped 37 of 40 Union shots in collecting the victory.
BEARS OFF TO THE RACE EARLY
Brown wasted no time as Tommy Marchin got the Bears on the board just 2:27 into the game. His tally was followed by Brink’s two goals at 9:46 and 12:55 respectively, and just like that the Bears were off and running as Zach Giuttari added a fourth marker. For the Bears the first twenty minutes on Saturday eerily resembled the effort they put forth in their second period onslaught against the Robert Morris Colonials the previous night as they seemingly scored at will while offering little in the way of looks for their opponent.
DUTCHMEN COMEBACK FALLS SHORT
Union’s offense woke up after the fourth Brown goal as the next three goals belonged to the Dutchmen, casting an element of doubt on the final outcome. Goals by Jack Adams with less than two minutes remaining in the first frame, followed by Anthony Rinaldi and Lucas Breault’s tallies in the first half of the second cut brought the Dutchmen back to life, setting the stage for a dramatic finish in the championship tilt. But a critical Bears goal was scored off the stick of second line forward Jack Gessert at 19:29, giving the Bears their two goal cushion back.
In the third frame, the Dutchmen out shot the Bears by a 14-4 margin, but were kept to the perimeter and out of the dangerous areas, while Marchin put the Confluence Cup away with an empty net goal at 19:19.
It was a breakthrough weekend for the Bears who’ve won three games in a row and looked very impressive in doing so.
“I think we’ve been playing very good hockey of late,” Whittet added. “I think we’re making good strides as a program this season. Did I expect us to end up here? No. But I don’t say that like not thinking we could be or should be. They’re an excellent hockey team and I knew it would be a hard fought game. We respect them. “We figured if we did the correct things and played the right way and we played energized and tenacious that we’d have an opportunity to win a championship and I thought we did a lot of good things tonight.