(PHOTO GALLERY: Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase)
David Brown’s first trip to Mellon Arena was a successful one.
The Notre Dame senior goaltender turned away 17 of 19 Robert Morris shots Friday night as the No. 2-ranked Fighting Irish posted a 6-2 win over the Colonials at the Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase at Mellon Arena.
It was Brown’s first trip to Pittsburgh since the Penguins selected him in the eighth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
“It’s the first time being out here and seeing Mellon Arena and the city in general, so I am glad to pick up a win here, for sure,” Brown said. “I was kind of disappointed giving up two goals. I would have liked to get those two back, but the main thing is we were able to get the win. I was able to shut it down the rest of the way for the team. Especially in the third period when we needed to shut them down, I was able to hold the fort and not allow any more goals in. We got the two points, so I am definitely happy with that.”
Brown had a difficult time getting into a rhythm early in the contest as Notre Dame (17-3-1) dominated possession. However, Brown was able to shut the door in the second half of the game as the Irish pulled away.
“It was a real tough game, in that respect (establishing momentum). We’ve had a few of those come up in the last couple games,” he said. “That’s real tough for a goalie, anytime you’re facing four shots in a period – one shot every five minutes – that’s really tough. You just have to stay mentally strong and that’s what I tried to do and focus on being ready for the shots when they came.”
Add in the fact that Brown was playing in front of Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche and injured Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton, who played college hockey at Notre Dame.
“You can’t worry about that. You just have to play your game and do the best you can,” Brown said. “I played the best I could tonight and hopefully they liked what they saw.”
Melcohe sure liked what he saw in Brown, who entered the game ranked fourth in the country in goals-against average (1.73), eighth in save percentage (.928) and third in winning percentage (.816). He now has a 16-3-1 mark between the pipes this season.
“It’s been three years. I saw him his draft year in a couple games then, and I haven’t seen him in a couple of years. This game was a tough game for him to play in because he wasn’t getting much work and a couple slipped right under him,” Meloche said. “He has had a great year, though. The numbers don’t lie. A lot of times, you play a nonconference game and you don’t get as psyched up as much as you should and then it’s a tough game where the play is at the other end. We like his style. He has a nice butterfly style. He moves well side-to-side. His goals-against average and save percentage are great. They are having a good year as a team.”
Meloche has been impressed with Brown’s progression through the years.
“He has played more games and his game has improved and his team has gotten better. That’s what you want to look at for a goalie – to make another step up every year,” he said. “We’ll let him finish the year and get him at training camp, hopefully, and we’ll see if he can play somewhere in the organization next year.”
Brown hopes to keep improving personally and as a team.
“It’s a maturation process. You mature as a player, an athlete and as a person. I have been able to grow throughout the years and we’ve experienced the highest of the high and the lowest of the low,” he said. “So, that’s really helped me grow as a player and really learn to keep things on an even keel. In addition to that, I have really tried to focus on my mental aspect of the game and grow mentally and that’s huge for any goalie. I think those are some of the things that have helped me mature through the process at Notre Dame. I have been fortunate enough to be on a good team and it’s put me in a good position this year.”
Kevin Deeth tallied his first-career hat-trick for the Irish and Erik Condra had a goal and four assists to pace Notre Dame.
The Irish held a 2-1 lead after the first and a 3-2 edge halfway through the second before the visitors pulled away. Ryan Thang had a goal and an assist for Notre Dame, while Josh Sciba scored a goal. Peters Township products Christian Hanson and Christiaan Minella did not score, but Hanson started and Minella had a penalty and finished with a plus-1 rating.
Logan Bittle and David Boguslawski scored goals for Robert Morris (6-10-1), which was considered the home team. The Colonials played in front of their largest-ever home crowd and the second largest crowd to witness a RMU home event as 3,420 fans were in attendance.
The win was nice, but Brown has his focus set on a higher goal.
“We definitely want to make the NCAA tournament. This year, we’re not just aiming to get there, we’re aiming to win,” he said. “We’re not happy anymore just to get to the big dance. We want to go there and win. We’re a top team in the nation and we want to go there and compete and show everybody what we’re made of.”
And, after that?
“If I am fortunate enough to be out here for training camp, that’d be one step closer to fulfilling the dream,” he said. “That’d be awesome, for sure.”
W&J 7, RMU 6
In the ACHA non-varsity game to start the night, Washington & Jefferson posted a thrilling 7-6 overtime shootout win over Robert Morris.
C.J. King scored twice for the Colonials’ non-varsity team, while Morgan Munizza, Jacob Javitt, Nicholas Verch and John Kalichuk all had goals.
Bob Rose and Chad Talotta both scored two goals for Washington & Jefferson, while David Bean and Dave Crockett all found the back of the net.
Rose and Mario Panucci scored in the shootout to give the Presidents, who are coached by former Penguins defenseman Peter Taglianetti, the victory.