Sports

Heading into winter break, men’s ice hockey faces uphill climb

Since beating defending national champion Yale early in the season, the Bears have only won once

By
Sports Staff Writer
Friday, December 6, 2013

Matt Lorito ’15 is leading the team in goals scored for the second year in a row but is complimented by team point leader Mark Naclerio ‘16.

After opening the season with wins over two Ivy foes, including No. 8 Yale, the Bears have won only one of their last eight games and sit second to last in the ECAC with a 1-4-1 conference record and a 3-6-1 overall record.

Bruno defeated defending national champion Yale in its second game, generating optimism about the team’s season and even receiving votes to be nationally ranked. But since beginning official conference play, the Bears have only won one game: a 6-3 triumph over Princeton.

With only three points — two from their lone win and one from the tie — the Bears are 11th in the 12-team conference. They have played two fewer games than the two teams immediately ahead of them in the standings, Harvard and Princeton, so a win in either of their next two matches could vault them into a tie for ninth.

The duo of Matt Lorito ’15 and Mark Naclerio ’16 has powered the team’s offense. Lorito leads the team with six goals, while Naclerio has five goals and eight assists to lead the team with a total of 13 points. The Bears’ offense averages 2.70 goals per game, a figure good enough to put them just ninth in the ECAC.

The picture is somewhat brighter on the other side of the ice. Bruno is eighth in the conference in goals allowed per game at 2.88, but goalie Marco De Filippo ’14 is third in the ECAC with a save percentage of .925. He is 10th in the conference with a goals against average of 2.72, but that owes in large part to the defense in front of him, which subjects him to the most shots per game of any ECAC goalie.

The Bears’ biggest problem may be their power play offense. With a man advantage, Bruno scores just 14.3 percent of the time, statistically 11th in the conference. Despite giving up so many shots, the team’s penalty killing unit is relatively strong, preventing opponents from scoring 80.4 percent of the time to rank fifth in the conference.

Though they stumbled out of the gate, hope remains for the Bears. The win over Yale and narrow loss against Clarkson University, both of which are tied for the third-best winning percentages in the ECAC, show the team’s potential. With 16 conference games left to play, the team will have ample opportunity to return to its winning ways. But without significant changes on both offense and defense, the Bears will stay mired in the bottom of the ECAC all season.

 

Key upcoming games

This weekend’s homestand against Harvard and Dartmouth, two of the weakest teams in the conference, offers a huge opportunity for the Bears. Two wins would give them seven points in eight games and a winning percentage of .438, which would be good for eighth in the conference right now and perhaps seventh next week if St. Lawrence University struggles this weekend.

Bruno will face Clarkson Jan. 17 and St. Lawrence Jan. 18. The Bears came close to beating both teams — which lead them in the ECAC standings — when they visited Providence during the first weekend in November.

Bruno lost to Clarkson 4-3 on a goal with less than two minutes left, and blew a 2-1 lead to tie St. Lawrence. These games will be big litmus tests for the team after three straight non-conference games to start January.