Sports

Bears to open season with home-and-home series against Yale

Strong senior leadership, day-to-day approach poise Bears for success this weekend

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 26, 2017

After finishing last in the Eastern College Athletic Conference in the 2016-2017 season, the men’s hockey team will start fresh with eight new players at a home-and-home series against Yale this weekend. The Bears will travel to New Haven to face the Bulldogs Friday before returning to Meehan Auditorium Saturday. Bruno will take the ice at 7 p.m. both nights.

For the first time in nearly 250 days, the men’s hockey team will bring a dormant arena to life when it skates out onto home ice this weekend.   

The Bears will open the season with a home-and-home series against Ivy League rival Yale, traveling to New Haven tonight before hosting the Bulldogs at Meehan Auditorium Saturday.

This weekend’s duels follow a month and a half of preparation on and off the ice. The Bears first laced up their skates in early September and have been consistent in training leading up to regular season competition.

“The preseason has been positive,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94. “The guys have been tremendous in terms of focusing on the process and getting better each and every day.”

Bruno seeks to improve on its last place Eastern College Athletic Conference finish in the 2016-17 season  with a new host of upperclassmen leadership. The team will benefit from the return of its six top scorers from the 2016-17 season, including Charlie Corcoran ’18, who led the Bears with a team-high 15 goals. Captain Josh McArdle ’18 and assistant captains Tyler Bird ’18 and Sam Lafferty ’18 have worked to set an example and establish good habits among the younger members of the team, Whittet said.

“The seniors have been unbelievable,” Whittet said. “What we stressed with the older guys is just having certain standards. As long as they exhibit them each and every day … that trickles down to the younger guys, and they understand what Brown hockey is about.”

“Everyone who’s younger than us can look up to us on any given day, and really look up and see someone that’s exuding the passion and the energy and the love for hockey,” said McArdle, who served as an assistant captain last year.

Bruno also welcomes the addition of eight new first-year players, including five forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender. The freshman class has demonstrated talent and industry in the preseason and has integrated quickly with the team, Lafferty said.

“From the start, they’ve been part of our family,” said Lafferty, who also donned an assistant captain badge in 2016-17. “Their performance has been very impressive and we’re going to rely on all of the guys this year to produce.”

“They bring a lot to the table, they’re really skilled, they have a lot of experience, and they’ve played in some good leagues coming in here,” Bird said. “It creates a little competition too. … We’re a little deeper in terms of skill that we haven’t had before, so they certainly add a lot to that.”

This newfound depth of talent across lines is a source of optimism for the team, particularly as it seeks to maximize offensive output.

“We have very good depth across our entire team, and that’s a huge strength,” Lafferty said. “We have guys that are going to be able to pick each other up and get the job done no matter what.”

The Bears are slated to play 29 games in the regular season before playoff competition opens in March. While an ECAC championship crown would prove a satisfying feat, Bruno remains focused on everyday processes of improvement.

“There’s a certain amount of effort, energy and focus that goes into that day-to-day process that will allow you to accomplish goals at the end of the year,” Whittet said. “Our goal is to be a better team when we step off the ice today after practice than when we stepped on. That’s it.”

By concentrating on incremental developments in technique, the Bears seek to take the ice with presence and poise.

“We don’t want to look too far ahead,” McArdle said. “We’d like to be playing at home in the playoffs, but we’re focused on day-to-day goals — trying to come to the rink every day, have a really good practice, enjoy being there and enjoy being with each other. That’s going to produce really good hockey.”

The Bears face off against the Bulldogs Saturday at 7 p.m. at Meehan Auditorium.