Four teams, one goal: Conference title on the line

Bryan Lipiner

Atlantic City, N.J. has always been home to the nightlife, the casinos, the beaches…

Since 2011, however, it has been home to the ECAC men’s ice hockey championship. The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey travels to Atlantic City for the first time Friday when it takes on Brown in the ECAC semifinals at Boardwalk Hall at 4 p.m.

The Bobcats and Bears tied both meetings this year. Connor Jones scored the lone Bobcat goal, while Eric Hartzell stopped 30 of 31 shots in a 1-1 tie on Feb. 1 at Meehan Auditorium. Across the sheet, Brown goaltender Anthony Borelli made 38 saves on 39 shots.

This is Borelli’s first season as the Brown starting goaltender, and the stats prove it could not be any more spectacular. Through 26 games played, the junior has recorded a .942 save percentage and a 1.87 goals against average, good for first and third in the ECAC. Borelli’s save percentage also places third in the nation.

In their second contest of the year, the Bobcats and Bears played to a 3-3 final in Hamden. Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored twice, while Russell Goodman added a tally of his own. Quinnipiac held a 3-1 lead until 17:44 of the third period, when Brown slashed the lead to 3-2. Twenty-four seconds later, the Bears tied the game at 3, forcing a scoreless overtime.

This past weekend, in what was one of the more eventful playoff series in program history, Quinnipiac defeated Cornell in three games, the series-clinching goal coming in double overtime off the stick of Kevin Bui. Game 2 was also extraordinary, as the Bobcats defeated the Big Red 10-0, scoring in double-digits for the first time since Nov. 11, 2000 vs. Fairfield.

As for Brown, the Bears upset the favored Rensselaer in three games last weekend, even though the Engineers outscored Brown, 9-8, in the series. In the first round of ECAC Tournament play, the Bears swept Clarkson in two games, downing the Golden Knights 3-0 and 4-3.

On the offensive side of the puck, Matt Lorito leads Brown with 20 goals and 35 points, respectively. Dennis Robertson tops the squad in the assist column, as the junior defenseman has notched 16 on the year.

In 2011-12, Quinnipiac defeated Brown in three games in the first round of the ECAC Tournament. In 2010-11, the Bobcats also defeated the Bears in the first round, this time coming via a two-game sweep.

The Bobcats are currently first in the PairWise rankings, trailed by Minnesota.