Sports

Colgate, Cornell to test struggling men’s hockey team

Lappin ’16 returns from suspension, looks to jumpstart stagnant offensive unit

By
Sports Staff Writer
Friday, November 21, 2014

Matt Lorito ’15 tracks back on defense. The team needs both veterans and first-years to contribute to the box score against Colgate and Cornell this weekend.

After the men’s hockey team started its season with a four-game losing streak, Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94 wanted to “get back to the drawing board” this week with tilts against No. 6 Colgate and Cornell next up on the schedule.

“We need to work on puck management,” Whittet said. “We had a lot of unforced errors, and in order to stop that, we need to start playing more intelligently. We have to have a lot more puck possession in order to win battles this weekend.”

Despite high preseason ranks for both Colgate (8-3-1, 2-1-1 ECAC) and Cornell (1-4-1, 1-3-0) both find themselves relatively underachieving. Colgate and Cornell were picked to finish first and third in the ECAC, respectively, in the preseason coaches’ poll.

After a 5-0 shellacking at the hands of Quinnipiac, Colgate bounced back to beat Princeton, then bested St. Lawrence and tied Clarkson last weekend. The Raiders resounding victory over the Saints does not bode well for Bruno. But Colgate’s 2-2 tie with Clarkson, a team to which Brown narrowly lost, reflects an inconsistent Colgate squad that the Bears could conceivably upset.

“Colgate is a very good opponent,” Whittet said. “They are ranked nationally and were picked preseason to be number one in our conference, so we have a lot of work to do if we want to compete with them.”

Cornell, on the other hand, has been much more cold than hot this season: An opening conference loss to lowly Princeton set the tone for what has been a disappointing start, as the Big Red also fell to Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence, while netting its lone victory against Clarkson last weekend.

“Both of our opponents this weekend are excellent,” Whittet said. “We just need to focus on our game and see where that gets us.”

Brown might find the spark it was lacking last weekend with Nick Lappin ’16 returning from suspension. The Bears’ second-leading scorer from last year has missed more than three games worth of ice time due to two ejections and the suspension, but he will be inserted back into the lineup this weekend.

“My plan is to put Nick back with (Matt Lorito ’15) and (Mark Naclerio ’16) on the front line,” Whittet said. “We need to get them going. Mark doesn’t have a point in five games, and Nick has hardly been on the ice.”

Colgate features a couple of the ECAC’s most prolific players: junior forward Kyle Baun, whose six goals tie him for second in the conference, and senior defender Spiro Goulakos, who leads the league with ten assists. Cornell’s offense has been a lot less explosive, but it has been balanced, with 12 players recording a point through six games.

With that, Bruno’s porous defense, which ranks last in the ECAC with a 4.75 goals against average, has its work cut out for it. Both sophomore goalies, Tyler Steel ’17 and Tim Ernst ’17, saw time last weekend, as Ernst replaced Steel against Harvard and then got the start against Dartmouth before being replaced by Steel halfway through the first period.

Whittet said that his “decision is usually based on what happens in practice,” but he’s “leaning towards Tyler” to start this weekend. Defenders Josh McArdle ’18 and Ben Tegtmeyer ’18, who have played in all of Bruno’s games this year, are both questionable for this weekend’s games.

Either way, Bruno will try to notch its first conference points of the season this weekend against the Raiders and the Big Red and avoid its worst start in 15 years.