Brown overcame an early 2-0 hole by scoring five unanswered goals to top Colgate 5-2 at home. With the win, the Bears snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Red Raiders, dating back to February of 1998.
The Brown offense came from the usual sources. Junior Brent Robinson had three assists. Linemate Les Haggett and defenseman Paul Esdale each chipped in with a goal and an assist. But the game winner came from a less expected source — freshman forward Rugo Santini, playing in just his ninth game of the season.
Early, it looked like Colgate would rebound from a tough Friday night loss at Harvard with a runaway win at Meehan Auditorium. Brown looked lethargic and uninspired early, and one had to wonder if Friday’s emotional and physical 2-2 tie with Cornell had left them empty.
Scooter Smith, who has had all sorts of success against Brown in his career (including a hat trick in his sophomore year), jump started the Red Raider offense. The sure-handed forward made a great play to collect a centering pass just in front of the Brown net, and put it through the five-hole to make it 1-0 just 3:28 into the game.
A little over a minute later, Smith fired a shot from the right point that made its way to the net. Adam Mitchell finished off the rebound to make it 2-0.
Brown’s power play seemed to finally wake up the offense. Scott Ford scored on a pretty one-timer off a pass from Esdale.
A real momentum killer in hockey is late-period goals. Brown got one late in the first to make it 2-2, and despite playing an awful first, they went to the intermission tied. Esdale converted on a rebound after a nice three on two rush down the ice with 15 seconds left in the period.
“That goal at the end of the first period really stung,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “The kicker for us is that we just don’t score a lot. We were in a good position to win tonight. I thought our effort was there — it was just some of the little things we did wrong around our net that beat us.”
Speaking of nets, the Colgate net saw a lot of different goalies this weekend. After all three goaltenders played on Friday, tonight’s starter, Steve Silverthorn, was pulled in favor of David Cann to start the second.
The Bears put the pressure on Cann immediately. Their forwards looked quicker and more aggressive as the game went on, and the forecheck started to look more like the forecheck that was key in the Cornell game.
Santini netted the go-ahead goal midway into the second. He found his way to the right doorstep of the Colgate goal and knocked in a loose puck behind Cann. The goal was the first of his career, as well as the first tally for Brown’s relatively inexperienced freshman class.
“That was a big goal for us,” Santini said. “I feel like once we get the lead we become a much better team and settle down a lot.”
Brown’s Yann Danis had another good game in net, with 28 saves. After giving up two early, Danis shut down Colgate’s offense with an occasional big save. One of his better ones came off of a face-off in the second, as he showed his reflexes with a glove save.
Robinson and Haggett combined for another one of their pretty goals to make it 4-2. Robinson skated behind the net and found Haggett in the slot for a snap-shot goal.
These two lead Brown’s scoring department. Robinson has 31 points, to lead the team, and Haggett is just two behind him. Haggett’s twelve goals lead the team. These two have been playing together since late December and their play has been spectacular since. Senior Keith Kirley, who has 18 points and is fourth on the team in scoring, round out this top line and power-play unit for the Bears.
“Les and I think a lot alike out there,” Robinson said. “That really makes for a good chemistry between. And having [Kirley] battled in the corners and bumping people around opens up a lot of opportunities for us.”
Senior Jason Wilson netted his seventh goal of the season to make it 5-2 and prompt Cann’s pulling. Silverthorn came back in to finish the game in net.
Brown travels to Vermont and Dartmouth next weekend. Colgate returns home to play Union and Rensselaer.
“Our guys really want to do something special this year,” said Brown head coach Roger Grillo. “You can’t be perfect every night. I give the guys a lot of credit for battling back after that start.”