ATLANTIC CITY — March Madness has made its way to Boardwalk Hall.
The historic building’s basketball hoops and hardwood are packed away, but that didn’t keep a Cinderella team from knocking off a No. 1 on Friday night.
Seventh-seeded Brown University knocked off Quinnipiac University, the top-ranked men’s ice hockey team in the country, 4-0 in an ECAC hockey semifinal game at the Hall. The Bears will face Union in the final at 7 p.m. today.
Quinnipiac (26-7-5 overall, 17-2-3 ECAC) is the No. 1 team in the nation in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. Brown (16-13-6, 7-9-6 ECAC) had to upset second-seeded Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the quarterfinals last weekend just to reach Atlantic City.
“It’s definitely pretty big,” said Brown goalie Anthony Borelli, who stopped all 29 shots he faced. “We feel pretty good about it. But especially in a tournament like this, where it’s a one-game playoff, rankings don’t really matter. Whoever wants it more, whoever really wants to win, that’s who’s going to be the better team that night, and tonight I think that we wanted it a little bit more.”
Brown had a tough regular season but is on an impressive run. Star sophomore Matt Lorito entered the game with one goal in each of the Bears’ five tournament games (the first two rounds are best-of-three series).
Lorito continued his hot streak with the first goal of the game midway through the first period against Quinnipiac. He added an insurance goal late in the second period to make it 4-0. Garnet Hathaway and Francis Drolet also scored for the Bears.
Lorito said Brown was not intimidated because the Bears tied the Bobcats in both of their regular-season meetings.
“I think we might have been in their heads a little bit,” Lorito said.
Whether that was the case or not, Quinnipiac clearly was stunned.
“We were doing everything we thought we had to do to be ready today, and obviously we weren’t,” Bobcats captain Zack Currie said.
Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said he didn’t want to take anything away from Brown, but he ripped his team repeatedly afterward.
“We’re disappointed,” Pecknold said. “It’s almost inexplicable how badly we played today. We just, we stunk. … We stunk in every facet of the game. It was our worst game of the year, and obviously you can’t have that happen this time of the year.
“I don’t know if we would have beaten anyone today. … There’s nothing that was good today out of the whole game.”
While Brown was playing to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive, Quinnipiac is all but assured of being in the 16-team field. Still, the Bobcats said they need to get back on track today in the third-place game vs. Yale at 4 p.m.
“It’s big for us,” Currie said. “We need to right the ship.”
Notes: Fourth-seeded Union beat third-seeded Yale 5-0 in the second semifinal. Wayne Simpson, Daniel Carr, Max Novak, Josh Jooris and Sam Coatta scored for the defending champion Dutchmen. Troy Grosenick earned the shutout.
Contact Jason Mazda: