Sports

M. hockey struggles on ice after 25-day hibernation

By
Sports Editor
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The pressure couldn’t be any greater for goalie Michael Clemente ’12 and the Brown defense this season. Shut down the cage, and the Bears win. Slip up three times, and it’s going to be a long night.

In games in which the team (6-12-1, 4-7-1 ECAC Hockey) has let in at least three goals, the Bears are 0-11-1. But when they have let in fewer than three, they’re 6-1-0.

“When we’re clicking defensively, we’re very dangerous,” Clemente said. “It’s just that we need to continue to work on being consistent.”

It’s not just Clemente who bears the responsibility. Brown’s defensemen know they must make it easier on him.

“You take every goal against you kind of personally if you’re on the ice,” said defenseman Jeremy Russell ’11. “But at the same time, you’ve just kind of got to be able to park it and get ready for the next shift.”

On Nov. 28, the Bears became the last team in the nation to get their first win of the season. But then they didn’t lose again until January. During the stretch, opposing teams averaged just 1.17 goals against Brown.

The five-game winning streak started with an 8-1 trouncing of UConn and was highlighted by a 2-1 victory on Dec. 5 over then-No. 6 Quinnipiac.

“I thought they outworked us tonight,” Quinnipiac Head Coach Rand Pecknold said after the game.

The Bears’ momentum ended with their break over exams and the holidays. They re-opened their schedule with a two-night doubleheader against No. 5 St. Cloud State on Jan. 2 and Jan. 3. St. Cloud State took down the Bears, 5-1 and 5-3, to open the New Year.

The downward spiral kept twisting and the Bears dropped their next three games — all of which were away, including one against No. 6 Yale.

During the five-game losing streak, Brown allowed an average of 6.4 goals per game and the team gave up eight more power play goals than they earned.

“We just weren’t committed to team defense,” Russell said. “We sometimes got out-battled down low. We took way too many penalties and just had lapses we can’t afford to have.”

But the losing skid ended on Saturday when the Bears beat Clarkson 3-2 in the Golden Knights’ rink.

“The Clarkson game reminded me of the UConn game,” Clemente said. “So I’m excited for this weekend because there’s a good feeling in the locker room.”

The team will take its home ice for the first time since Dec. 8 on Friday at 7 p.m. against Rensselaer. The Bears will return the following night at 7 p.m. to take on ECAC leader Union — with whom Brown tied 3-3 on Nov. 6.