Sports

Clemente helps block Yale from semifinals

By
Sports Editor
Thursday, March 18, 2010

Goalie Michael Clemente ’12 held No. 6 Yale, the top-scoring team in the ECAC Hockey, to just two goals for the first time since January on Friday night in the men’s hockey team’s three-game playoff series.  And after a rough Saturday night, he bounced back and shut out the Bulldogs on Sunday, preserving Brown’s 1-0 lead until the final buzzer sounded, sending the Bears into the ECAC semifinals.

Clemente and the rest of the Bears will take on No. 9 Cornell in the ECAC semifinals at 4 p.m. Friday night.  For his shut-out performance which kept the team’s season alive, The Herald has named Clemente Athlete of the Week.  

Herald: Last year, you upset Harvard in the playoffs. This year, you did it against Yale. Which one was more fun?

Clemente: I would probably have to say the Yale one because of the adversity — the struggle we went through on Saturday. In the Harvard series, everything went right, from the drop of the puck to the end of the series. Nothing bad happened. But in this series against Yale, there were ups and downs. It’s kind of cool that our team has grown enough to handle those issues and respond.

After the win over Yale and RPI, do you guys head into the final four with more confidence?

All of our playoff games have been decided in the last seconds. Or not the last seconds — but at the end of the game, it has been a one-goal game. We all now have the confidence to say ‘We have a two-goal lead,’ ‘We’re going to close this out’ or ‘Hey, we’re down, we’ve got to get one,’ which is going to be huge against Cornell because they’re a team that doesn’t make many mistakes.

Yale lost its top scorer and the third-highest scorer in the nation, Sean Backman, to injury. Looking back on it now, how big was Backman’s absence in last weekend’s series?

I honestly noticed very little difference in Yale playing with or without him, but, I mean, we played so much better and we were so detailed and so good — the team defense and the offense did their job so well that I don’t know whether he would have made a difference in the series or not. I just don’t know. It’s really hard to tell. I mean, he’s a great player, but my teammates took care of business out front.

What’s the difference between the team’s attitude now and at the beginning of the season?

In November, we were really adjusting. I would say the excitement was there, but we hadn’t experienced a lot of success. Our coaches were confident in us that we could be successful, but we didn’t know how to do it yet. We didn’t know how to close out games. Now, we know we can take care of business.

There’s a little bit of a buzz on campus about the men’s hockey team.  Do you guys feel that vibe?

It’s been cool, the first series, there were a couple of fans around. And then Yale, we were skating onto the ice, and you know, their band is playing and people were yelling stuff at us. And they announce the starting lineup and we hear a cheer — and it’s not a parents’ cheer, it’s kids. And I was like, ‘Yes! This is awesome.’ There’s nothing better than playing in front of your classmates and friends and having them support you. Coach (Brendan) Whittet (’94) has done a good job of changing the culture and trying to build support around the men’s hockey team.

What do you do when you’re not playing hockey?

Well, we’ve got N64 up in Harkness (House). So for a while, I was dominating everyone in NFL Blitz. But my reign ended when we decided to switch games to Mario Kart — it’s been a rough transition for me. We play eliminator because we only have three controllers, so if you lose, you’re out.

Do you live with some hockey guys?

Yeah, I live with six hockey guys and one former sophomore. We all went into the housing lottery and really lucked out by getting a pretty nice suite. We were all close when we moved in at the beginning of the year, but we’ve definitely become a lot closer. I drive them crazy a little bit because I leave things out in the common room. But I’m trying to do my best to keep things clean for them. They hide my things, and when I come out, my computer is stolen — and my phone charger and my iPod. When I come out, they’re all gone and they won’t tell me where they are and I have to play the hot-cold game to find them. And it’s really not fun, so I’ve learned to make messes just on my side of the double.

Who’s your roommate?

Jeff Buvinow (’12).  He’s a defenseman on our team.  He gets mad at me for leaving my side a mess.

Do you think he ever lets a guy slip by him and get to you in a game as payback for your messes?

I hope not. No, I mean, we just like to give each other crap. It’s the best part of our team …we can really make fun of each other and no one takes it too seriously, which is good because it keeps things light. The cool thing about this team is that there’s a lot of camaraderie on it. … I have 28 best friends.