Sports

Men’s hockey face off with two high-octane offenses in ECAC action

Bruno faces its fifth straight nationally-ranked team in No. 4 Union College before heading to RPI

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, February 7, 2014

Mark Naclerio ’16 earned ECAC Player of the Month after a stellar January. The sophomore leads Bruno into Union and RPI this weekend with a chance to knock off a top-five team and jump Yale in ECAC standings.

After splitting last weekend’s homestand against Colgate and Cornell, the men’s hockey team will attempt to climb further up the ECAC standings this weekend as it leaves Providence and heads to No. 4 Union and Rensselaer. 

For a successful road trip, the Bears (9-9-3, 6-7-1 ECAC) will have to lean on recently crowned ECAC Player of the Month Mark Naclerio ’16. He tallied eight goals and six assists over eight January games, including three goals and an assist last weekend. Naclerio’s performance gave him the conference lead in points, goals and points per game for the month. Bruno will also get a lift as defenseman Brandon Pfeil ’16 returns to play after an injury.

Just like last weekend, the Bears only have a shot at moving ahead of Yale if the Elis lose at least one game and the Bears win at least one. Yale also faces both Union and RPI on the road this weekend.

 

Friday: Brown at No. 4 Union

Heading to the home rink of a top-five team is never easy, and the Dutchmen (17-6-3, 11-4-0) are certainly no exception. They have won six straight at home, including victories over No. 3 Quinnipiac and No. 9 Cornell, but lost two of their first four home games to Lake Superior State University. Additionally, Union is just 1-2 in its last three games after losses to RPI and St. Lawrence, both of whom trail Brown in the conference standings.

Much of the Dutchmen’s success this season has been predicated on their offense, which is second in the conference with 3.46 goals per game. Senior forward Daniel Carr leads the team with 12 goals and 26 points, while fellow senior defenseman Mat Bodie has 20 assists and 23 points.

The anchor of Union’s defense is junior blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere, who was a third-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Junior goalie Colin Stevens has also been crucial to the Dutchmen’s defense, starting 21 games and ranking second in the ECAC with a 2.09 goals-against average.

The Bears and Dutchmen have not played yet, giving Bruno no experience to draw from in preparation of the faceoff. But the Bears are assured a challenge against the top-five team. On the other hand, Union has looked somewhat shaky with recent losses, giving the Bears a potential opening for what would be a huge road win.

 

Saturday: Brown at RPI

The Engineers’ record of 3-5 in their last eight games might indicate they are struggling, but the results are reasonable given their difficult schedule. They faced four top-five teams in that stretch of the season, going 1-3, and played just one of those eight games at home. All season long, the Engineers have won and lost according to expectations, going 3-8-3 against teams ahead of them in the ECAC or national standings, and 8-3-1 against teams behind them or that are nationally unranked. This weekend will show which group the Bears belong to. RPI (11-11-4, 5-6-3) has the same number of points as Brown, but the Bears have more conference wins than the Engineers, giving them a leg up in the standings on a tiebreaker.

RPI finds itself in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories, hanging fifth in the conference with 3.04 goals per game and sixth with a 2.68 goals-against average. Its offense features one of the conference’s premier players in junior forward Ryan Haggerty, who has the second-most goals in the country and most in the conference with 21. No other ECAC player has more than 16. The Engineers’ goalie, junior Scott Diebold, has played in all but one game, registering a solid .910 save percentage and 2.57 goals-against average.

RPI’s lone NHL draftee is sophomore goalie Jason Kasdorf. The Winnipeg Jets’ sixth-rounder has only started two games, posting a shutout in RPI’s first game before allowing six goals and suffering a season-ending injury in the second. He was the 2012-2013 ECAC Rookie of the Year, with a .935 save percentage and 1.62 goals against average.

The Bears and Engineers seem evenly matched based on their work this season, but RPI has cooled off while Brown has heated up. Whether momentum holds is anyone’s guess, but if Naclerio continues his stellar play, Bruno will be in a great position.