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Late in the season some of the six seniors on the mens hockey team told reporters they hoped to finish their college careers by hanging a banner in Meehan Auditorium. They were referring to the ECAC championship flag, which Brown has yet to win. Although they fell short of their goal, the students can graduate secure in the knowledge that they spearheaded a resurgence in Brown hockey.

After struggling through six- and four-win seasons as freshmen and sophomores, Chris Legg, Keith Kirley, Tye Korbl, Paul Esdale, Owen Walter and Jason Wilson saw their perseverance begin to pay off last winter, when the Bears finished .500 in the ECAC and made their first playoff appearance in three years. This winter, though, the Bears truly turned the corner. They had their first winning season since 1995, their first win in a playoff game since 1998, and most significantly, their first appearance in the ECAC Final Four since 1994.

When we were struggling [in 2000 and 2001], says coach Roger Grillo, whose team finished 16145 overall, I thought we were still playing pretty good hockey; we just didnt have quite enough firepower to pull games out. But [the seniors] stayed true to themselves, true to the program, and true to the University. They brought a lot of intensity to the table every day. Theyre going to be sorely missed.

The Bears finished fifth in the ECAC at 1084, and in the opening round of the playoffs swept last-place Princeton, 21 and 31, in a pair of games at Meehan that turned out to be more difficult than expected. That sweep set the stage for a quarterfinal series at fourth-seeded Yaleas well as for some of Brown hockeys finest moments in a decade.

The Bears won game one, 43, on a Brent Robinson 04 goal at 9:40 into overtime. The unflappable Yann Danis 04 turned aside forty-one shots in the Bears first victory at Ingalls Rink in seven years. The Bulldogs won game two, 21, but game three belonged to Brown. The Bears took advantage of a pair of Yale defensive lapses in the second period to grab a 20 lead on goals by Robinson and Wilson, then sealed a 40 win with two empty-net goals in the third period. Danis, who this season finished ninth in the country in goals-against average (2.31) and third in save percentage (.929), was spectacular again in the cage, stopping thirty-five shots while earning his fifth shutout of the season and the eighth of his career, both Brown records. Daniss defense was also superb in front of him: Yale had just six third-period shots on goal.

However, the Bears magic dried up in the ECAC Championships at the Pepsi Arena in Albany. Cornell, the tournaments top seed and the countrys second-ranked team, limited the Bears to one shot on goal in the first period and a season-low eleven for the entire game. After the 20 Cornell victory, the Bears faced Dartmouth in the consolation game the next day, losing 42.

Next years team should be at least as good. Returning with Danis will be four starting defensemen and six of this seasons top-ten scorers, including Robinson, who led the team with fifteen goals and twenty-three assists.

I think we can be better next year, without question, says Grillo. The program is to the point now where, with the recruits we have coming in and the kids we have returning, we feel very good about things.





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