PROVIDENCE — Brown and Clarkson played a sloppy but entertaining game before a sparse crowd at frosty Meehan Auditorium on Friday night, with the nationally ranked Golden Knights coming away with a 5-3 win.
A defensive struggle it was not.
“It was up and down – a track meet,” said Brown coach Brendan Whittet.
In the end, it came down to goaltending and special teams, as it so often does.
The Golden Knights went 3 for 7 with the man advantage, while Brown went 2 for 7. Jake Kielly stopped 32 of 35 in the Clarkson net, while Gavin Nieto made 23 saves on 27 shots. The last goal was an empty-netter.
“We’ve got to find a way to make sure we’re a little better in those aspects,” Whittet said.
Here are five quick hits on the game:
Surprisingly, Brown had the puck more than Clarkson did.
The Bears outshot the Golden Knights over the final two periods, 23-13. And the Bears ended up with 65-43 edge in shot attempts.
“They’re probably the best team in our league, quite honestly, and they’re a possession-driven team. They’re a team that plays fast, so for us to be able to have the puck as much as we did, to out-attempt them after that first period, we did a lot of good things. We have to find a way to build on that,” said Whittet.
Through five games, Brown’s best players have not been their best players.
Sam Lafferty, with only one goal this season, had five shots but no points on Friday.
“He’s getting better. When it’s early (in the season), sometimes you’re not as crisp in terms of the tenacity you have to play with, the strength you have to play with. He’s got great speed and he’s got to use it, but he also has to realize we’re playing a gritty team,” said Whittet.
“That goes for him, (Charlie) Corcoran, (Max) Willman – our offensive players. One of the biggest things you have to have is playing with tenacity and grit, strong on sticks. I thought they did a better job tonight, but they’ve got to keep growing in that aspect.”
THE BIG LINE
Clarkson’s trio of Devin Brousseau, Nico Sturm and Brendan Rempal may be the best in the ECAC.
“That top line is legit,” Whittet said.
With a dozen NHL scouts watching, the trio totaled seven shots, but Brown kept them off the scoreboard.
Friday night was my first look at Brown freshman Alec Mehr, who has been a pleasant surprise in the early going. The night before his 20th birthday, Mehr scored a goal and added an assist. He’s now second on the team in scoring with 2-2-4 in 5 games.
At 6 feet and 195 pounds, Mehr gets his nose dirty.
“He plays the game hard. North-South game. He’ll go to the net-front. He’s really good at possessing pucks and he’s pretty responsible. He’s a fearless kid and he plays with a lot of energy, jam and jump. He’s been excellent from the get-go,” said Whittet.
There is nothing complicated about Saturday night. Brown simply has to beat St. Lawrence, which is 1-9-1 after being blitzed by Yale, 6-1, on Friday night.
“We have to find a way to get two points tomorrow,” said Whittet.
A loss would leave the Bears with a 1-5 record heading into next weekend’s trip to Quinnipiac and Princeton.
And that would be a hole that would be very hard to climb out of.