Sports

Men’s ice hockey falls flat on road weekend

Loser of three straight, Bruno drops to eighth in ECAC and risks losing tournament home ice

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 10, 2014

Michael Juola ’14 takes the puck up the boards. The team scored only four goals this weekend while allowing eight, and Juola had a -4 rating.

The men’s hockey team struggled away from home this weekend, falling 4-3 to No. 4 Union and 4-1 to Rensselaer, losing crucial ground in the conference race.

The Bears are now seven points out of fourth place, and with six games to play, it would take a monumental effort for them to get back in the conversation. At the end of the season, the top four teams in the ECAC standings receive a first-round bye in the conference tournament, meaning that Brown’s chance is all but gone.

The next four teams get home-ice advantage in the first round, a luxury Bruno is barely holding onto. The Bears are tied with St. Lawrence for eighth place, but hold a tiebreaker over the Saints by virtue of their 1-0-1 record against them. Should the Saints pass Bruno, the Bears will have to travel for the first round of the ECAC tournament, making their road to the championship that much harder.

With two wins this weekend, the Bears would have pulled into a tie for sixth with Yale, but they failed to match their tough competition.

 

No. 4 Union 4, Brown 3

To their credit, the Bears (9-11-3, 6-9-1 ECAC) played Union (19-6-3, 13-3-0 ECAC) close the entire game, leading 2-1 at the end of the first period and tying the score at three by the end of the second. But Bruno conceded one final goal in the third period, leaving it with no team points for the game.

Union struck first with a power-play goal just over six minutes into the game, but less than a minute later, the Dutchmen’s Charlie Vasaturo was assessed a five-minute major and ejected for hitting Massimo Lamacchia ’15. On the ensuing man advantage, Mark Naclerio ’16 and Nick Lappin ’16 scored goals 15 seconds apart to turn the deficit into a lead.

In the second, Union scored two goals to take the lead, but Zack Pryzbek ’17 scored with under a minute before intermission to tie the game at three.

Union scored just one minute into the third, and Brown never responded.

“We couldn’t find a way to tie it,” said Matt Lorito  ’15.

Lorito registered two assists in the game and spoke positively about how the team held its own against such a tough opponent.

“I actually thought we played pretty well,” he said. “We probably should have beaten them.”

Naclerio was less happy with the performance, saying, “It wasn’t what we wanted.”

He put less weight on Union’s ranking, saying the Bears should be able to hang with any team.

“We know we can compete with anyone, no matter what rank they are,” he said. “The fact that they’re the No. 4 team didn’t mean much.”

Despite feeling that the team played well, Lorito was still disappointed with the outcome.

The team’s reaction “should have been positive,” he said, but he added that he felt such a close defeat left the team frustrated.

“We knew we were right there. We just couldn’t find a way to win,” Lorito said.

Captain Dennis Robertson ’14 agreed with his teammates, saying the Bears “expect to win every night.”

“We’re not a team that pats itself on the back for having close games,” he said.

Bruno did not let its discontent go easily, and it showed as the team came out flat the following night at RPI.

 

RPI 4, Brown 1

After playing so well at Union, Bruno came up far short against the Engineers (12-12-4, 6-7-3 ECAC).

RPI scored 34 seconds into the game and again 13 minutes later, leaving the Bears in an early 2-0 hole.

“We just didn’t start off very well,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94.

But two minutes later, Bruno was handed a golden opportunity as RPI was called for two simultaneous penalties, leading to a 5-on-3 power play. Thirty-five seconds later, Robertson scored to halve the deficit and give Brown a chance to tie the game with still over a minute left on the now 5-on-4 power play. As the man advantage neared its end, a Lappin shot ended up in the net but was reviewed and ruled no goal.

Brown would not score for the rest of the game, getting outshot 22-9 over the final two periods as the Engineers added two more goals to bring the final score to 4-1.

“We were a little unprepared,” Robertson said.

Naclerio agreed, saying the team had “a few mental mistakes.”

“We broke down and gave them the win by beating ourselves,” he said.

The players all agreed that the team was not as focused and got off to a slow start, allowing RPI to jump on them early. Robertson noted how after going down two goals, the Bears sank into a malaise that dogged them all night.

“We couldn’t seem to climb out of that funk,” he said. Whittet seconded his captain’s words, and said the Engineers were “on our heels, and we never really recovered.”

Lorito felt the performance was nothing like what the team showed against Union. “We kind of got away from some of the stuff that made us successful,” he said.

Whittet agreed with his players, saying the team lacked “the type of effort you need to be successful.”

Though they suffered a setback this weekend, the Bears’ outlook has not dampened. Lorito said the team still wants to “finish as high as we can” in the ECAC, citing home-ice advantage in the first round of the conference tournament as “really important for us.”

Robertson said the weekend “doesn’t change our goals one bit.” He compared it to a similar mid-February weekend last season, when Union and RPI swept the Bears on their New York road trip. Bruno then went 2-1-1 to end the regular season, sparking an improbable tournament run all the way to the ECAC championship game. The Bears have similar hopes this season.

“All the guys in that locker believe that’s where we’re headed,” Robertson said.

The team returns home next weekend to take on Princeton (4-19-0, 3-13-0 ECAC) and No. 3 Quinnipiac (20-5-5, 10-3-3 ECAC).