Sports

Men’s hockey heads north in search of first conference victory

Bruno to square off against Ivy rivals Harvard, Dartmouth without star forward Nick Lappin ’16

By
Sports Staff Writer
Friday, November 14, 2014

Zack Pryzbek ’17 battles a defender for the puck. The forward has seen action in two of the team’s four games this season, but has yet to log a goal or an assist. Pryzbek and the rest of the team’s offensive players will take on an expanded role against Harvard and Dartmouth with forward Nick Lappin ’16 serving a two-game suspension for two game misconducts.

After the men’s hockey team fell in its opening conference games last weekend against St. Lawrence and Clarkson — who were playing their ninth and  10th games, respectively, while Brown was playing its second and third — the Bears might relish the opportunity to play two Eastern College Athletic Conference opponents that have played a similar number of games.

Unfortunately for Bruno (1-2, 0-2 ECAC), this weekend’s away slate consists of games against Harvard (2-0-2, 1-0-2) and Dartmouth (1-1-1, 1-1-1) — the two highest-ranked Ivy teams in the ECAC.

“It’s very important to get our first conference win,” said forward Mark Naclerio ’16. “Unfortunately we were unable to get our first win at home, but we prepared well this week and are looking forward to the challenge this weekend.”

A huge obstacle for the Bears in their quest for a first conference win will be the suspension of forward Nick Lappin ’16, whose two game misconducts in two games over the weekend resulted in a two-game suspension from the ECAC. Lappin was not reprimanded by the conference after his game misconduct against St. Lawrence for a hit to the head but was issued his two-game ban after he was ejected against Clarkson for hitting from behind. Lappin has yet to get on the scoresheet this season but was Brown’s second-leading goal scorer last year.

“Obviously Nick is a large part of our offense, but we can’t focus on that,” Naclerio said. “We need to play hard with whoever is in the lineup, and everyone who is playing this weekend needs to be focused and ready to play.”

Up first for Brown is Harvard, who tied Dartmouth, beat Rensselaer convincingly and tied defending national champion Union to kick off its season in the ECAC. But Harvard’s most impressive win came this week as it knocked off No. 8 Boston College, marking the Crimson’s first win against the Eagles since 2006.

“Harvard is a very tough opponent,” Naclerio said. “They are a veteran side with a lot of skill.”

The Crimson are led by promising sophomore forward Alexander Kerfoot — who already has eight points, including a five-point outburst against Boston College — and junior forwards Kyle Criscuolo and Jimmy Vesey. Senior Goalie Steve Michalek is a standout on the other end of the ice, ranking third in the ECAC in goals against average (1.92 per game) and fourth in save percentage (.931).

After a faceoff with the Crimson, Brown will travel north to visit Dartmouth, who might have had the most impressive results in the first weekend of ECAC play. Down 3-0 to the defending national champion Union, the Big Green battled back to tie the game with less than a minute left in regulation, continuing on to steal the win with a goal three minutes and 22 seconds into overtime.

Dartmouth’s offensive output has been highlighted by its veterans thus far, as four of the five leading point contributors are seniors. Forwards Eric Robinson, Tyler Sikura and Jesse Beamish have all registered at least one goal and two assists in what has been a balanced attack for the Big Green.

“Dartmouth always plays hard,” Naclerio said. “But if we play our systems right and limit (Harvard and Dartmouth’s) time and space, we will have a successful weekend.”