Sports

Men’s ice hockey swept in two heartbreakers

Without Lorito ’15, Bears lose two close games and are eliminated from ECAC tournament

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, March 10, 2014

The illustrious college career of captain Dennis Robertson ’14 came to an end against St. Lawrence this weekend. The first-team All-Ivy defenseman will start his NHL career in the Carolina Hurricanes’ system later this month.

The men’s hockey team saw its season come to an end this weekend after losing twice to St. Lawrence on the road, prematurely dropping the best-of-three playoff series.

The Bears (11-17-3, 8-13-1 ECAC) fared better than in last weekend’s ignominious, goal-less homestand, ceding both games by only one goal and taking one to double overtime. But they suffered from the absence of playmaker Matt Lorito ’15, who shares the team lead in assists but remained on the bench due to a season-ending leg injury last week. Entering the series, the offense had been struggling, rebounding against the Saints (15-17-4, 7-11-4) with a decent four goals in two games. Still, that tally trailed the team’s season average of 2.45 goals per game.

“Lorito not playing this weekend was huge,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94. “He’s one of the best players in the country. … It’s tough to win games when you’re scoring two goals a game.”

 

Friday: St. Lawrence 3, Brown 2 (2OT)

In the first game of the series, the Bears came from behind to tie the score twice, and played their best period of the game in the first overtime. Despite this effort, Bruno could not break through and paid for it when the Saints netted the game-winner in double overtime.

After a scoreless first period, the teams traded goals in the second, with St. Lawrence holding a 2-1 lead at the end of the frame. The Bears were largely shut down in the third period, mustering only four shots on goal. Still trailing by one goal near the end of the third period, the Bears pulled goalie Tyler Steel ’17 for the extra attacker, signaling a desperate, last-second push. Seconds later, Nick Lappin ’16 put one past St. Lawrence’s Matt Weninger for a dramatic game-tying goal with only 55 seconds left.

Bruno was badly outshot in regulation by a margin of 31-15, but it turned the tables in the first overtime. The Bears ratcheted up the pressure in the extra frame, outshooting St. Lawrence 13-11 despite spending two minutes on the penalty kill and having no power-plays of their own. But Weninger stood tall and Bruno could find no purchase.

The Saints took over in the second overtime. In the first 90 seconds, they outshot the Bears 4-0, with the fourth attempt from Eric Sweetman lighting the lamp to end the game.

“We had plenty of chances to win that game… we had a multitude of chances in that first OT,” Whittet said.

The team was frustrated by the Saints but redoubled its resolve with its backs against the wall. Bruno put in a better showing the next night, but came up short yet again.

 

Saturday: St. Lawrence 3, Brown 2

The Bears capped off another winless night with an identical final score, as they failed to come back from a late two-goal deficit and were ousted from the ECAC tournament.

The Saints took a 1-0 lead in the second, which they maintained before a furious third period. Bruno knotted up the score four minutes into the period, but St. Lawrence scored two more goals within 1:32 to take a commanding 3-1 lead with under 15 minutes left. The Bears scored to pull within one goal five minutes later, but they never found the magic that had extended Friday’s game, instead watching their season draw to a close.

“We didn’t do enough to win,” said Massimo Lamacchia ’15.

The Bears kept the shot margin closer in the second game, trailing just 28-25 at the end of the contest. But they were outshot nevertheless and suffered for it. Part of the reason for their shot differential struggles may have been the still-middling power play, especially in contrast to St. Lawrence’s high-powered unit. Bruno was 0-for-6 with the man advantage against the league’s worst penalty kill, while the Saints were 2-for-8.

Though the Bears were not completely disappointed with their play, Whittet and some team members said they wished the squad could have done more.

“I thought we did some better things, but I still thought we were a little disjointed,” Whittet said. “I actually thought we played good hockey. … We did a good job on the defensive side.”

But no matter how well they played, the Bears now face a long offseason after a difficult end to their tournament trip.

“It’s a pretty bitter ending,” said Mark Naclerio ’16.

“It’s a big disappointment,” said Dennis Robertson ’14, who saw his Brown career come to a close with the losses. “It definitely hurts never being able to wear that jersey again.”

Whittet and several Bears shared a sense of frustration, and those who are returning expressed commitment to improving for next season.

“We can use this disappointing finish as a way to motivate the returning guys next year,” Lamacchia said.

Since the team was plagued by mental mistakes this season, Whittet said he planned to emphasize “understanding the importance of each and every game and each and every shift.”

With a disappointing season in the books, the players have just one option.

“We’ve got to move on and focus on next year,” Naclerio said.