Sports

Five games against top-10 teams headline winter break schedule

Top line of Naclerio ’16, Lappin ’16, Marchin ’19 looks to match firepower of impressive opponents

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, December 4, 2015

The Bears swarm together on the ice to celebrate a goal. This act was repeated many times last weekend as Brown scored 10 goals in just two games, including a Tommy Marchin ’19 hat trick against ECAC foe Colgate.

Last season, it took the men’s hockey team over a month to get its first conference win.

But this year has started very differently for Brown (2-4-3, 2-3-2 ECAC), as it has already registered two wins and six ECAC points — a feat it did not accomplish until mid-February last season.

Heading into winter break, Bruno had one conference win and looked to inhabit the ECAC cellar for the foreseeable future. This year, the Bears are in seventh place heading into their last games before a short break. Though Brown will face two tough opponents — including undefeated No. 3 Quinnipiac — it is in a much better position than last year going into a pivotal point in the campaign.

Bruno will take on Princeton, which occupies the last-place spot in the conference standings, and the Bobcats in its last conference games for over a month. Brown played Quinnipiac tough last year when the Bobcats were the runaway favorite for the conference title, ultimately falling just short despite a Mark Naclerio ’16 hat trick.

“We are excited for the challenge,” Naclerio said. “We understand that they’re a great team, but any time you have a chance to compete against a top team in the country, it’s always really exciting.”

The Bobcats enter with the two top scorers in the league: Sam Anas and Travis St. Denis. Unlike last year’s team, Brown also has scorers who are competing for top individual marks.

Nick Lappin ’16 is third in the ECAC in points, and impressive rookie Tommy Marchin ’19 is seventh. Naclerio rounds out Brown’s first line in 14th, contributing to substantial tallies for Bears who have played six fewer games than their non-Ivy counterparts.

Looking past Quinnipiac, the most intriguing matchup for the Bears over winter break will be the home-and-home set with No. 1 Providence for the coveted Mayor’s Cup. Tyler Steel’s ’17 magnificent performances last season stole the show and brought the Cup to Brown, but the Friars were able to secure the national championship trophy at the end of the season.

Coming into the year as the relatively undisputed top team in the country, Providence has hardly strayed from the course, taking down other ranked opponents across the country. The Friars also clobbered Holy Cross — a team Brown has lost to — and Colgate — a team that Brown has won against and tied.

“We know that we can compete against (the Friars) and beat them, so we are looking forward to hopefully taking the positive momentum we built from this upcoming weekend into that last game before the break against Providence,” Naclerio said.

Other than conference tilts against No. 10 Yale toward the end of winter break, Brown’s only other games will take place in the UVM Catamount Cup at the end of December. The Bears will take on Colgate for the third time — though this matchup will not have conference points on the line — and Lake Superior State.

Last year, Brown played Denver and Boston College in its annual non-conference slate over the break. This year, Bruno faces a familiar opponent in the Raiders and an unfamiliar one in the Lakers, who play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

“It’s always different playing teams out of our conference,” Naclerio said. “We’re not as familiar with those teams and their style of play, but it’s always a great opportunity for us to represent our league. We want to show that the ECAC is the best league in college hockey.”