Men’s hockey disappoints in pair of shutout losses in opening weekend

Hindered by late start to season, penalties, Bruno stifled by Holy Cross, Providence College

Staff Writer
Monday, October 31, 2016

Sam Lafferty ’18 and the rest of Brown’s offense started off the 2016 season cold being shutout twice and ceding the Mayor’s Cup to the Friars.

The men’s ice hockey team had a disappointing start to the season, losing to Holy Cross Friday and No. 14/15 Providence College Sunday 3-0 and 6-0, respectively.

Friday night saw Bruno outshot 32 to 23, conceding two goals to the Crusaders (3-1-1, 1-0-1 Atlantic) in the second period and one in the third. The Bears proved unable to ward off the Friars’ (3-3-1, 0-1-0) dominant offense Sunday, taking 21 shots on goal compared with Providence’s 41.

Sunday’s matchup against Providence was particularly difficult for Bruno. “We got overwhelmed a little bit by a team that plays the game very, very hard,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet. “It was coming off a loss,” and the Friars are “more seasoned than we are at this point. That’s no excuse — we’ve got to get a lot better.”

The Bears picked up a combined total of 14 penalties across the two games, including a five-minute major for interference at 0:09 in the second period Sunday. Bruno conceded two shorthanded goals in the pair of contests.

Whittet highlighted another factor in the team’s difficulties.

“The issue is as an Ivy League school, we start three weeks behind everybody else,” he said. “I’m not talking about shape. I’m talking about mind — your mind reacting quickly, making decisions quickly.”

Two goaltenders played in the contests. Gavin Nieto ’20 made 29 saves in his collegiate debut Friday and shared the net with Connor Maher ’18 against the Friars Sunday. Maher made seven saves, taking Nieto’s place during the third period after 45 minutes of play.

Whittet emphasized that his decision to pull Nieto hinged on Bruno’s defensive performance. “I wasn’t going to keep him in when I didn’t think defensively we were competing the way we needed to compete in front of our net, so that’s why I pulled him. It had nothing to do with me thinking he wasn’t competing or wasn’t working to make some stops,” he said.

With two away matchups taking place next weekend against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union College, Whittet stressed the need to improve the team’s dynamic.

“We’ve got to play with a much higher compete level; we didn’t play through people,” he said. “Then we got down, I just thought we got really disjointed, we got very individual, and that’s natural, but it can’t happen. You’re not going to come back against a good hockey team by doing that.”

Looking ahead, Whittet wants to concentrate on internal improvement. “We have to focus on ourselves. We’re still trying to find our lineup, we’re still trying to find guys that will play the right way, and we need much better efforts out of a majority of our team,” he added.