Men’s ice hockey enters new season eyeing return to ECAC title

The Bears start Friday against defending national champion Yale at Liberty Invitational

Senior Staff Writer
Friday, October 25, 2013

After posting its first winning season since 2005, the men’s hockey team will kick off this year’s campaign with the same elusive goal in mind: winning an ECAC Championship.

Last year, Bruno (16-14-6, 7-9-6 ECAC) fell to Union College in the championship game after knocking off top-ranked Quinnipiac University in the ECAC semifinals. This time, the Bears will try to take their success at least one game further.

“We’re not satisfied with coming in second place,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94. “Our goal is to win an ECAC Championship. We have the pieces in place to accomplish that goal … We want to be in the NCAA Tournament.”

“Our goal is getting back to that ECAC Championship and winning that game this year,” said Matt Lorito ’15.

The season will start with a bang as Bruno faces Yale, the defending national champion, in its first game of the season Friday night in Newark, N.J., as part of the Liberty Invitational. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 7 in the nation and were chosen by ECAC coaches to win the conference.

“I know we’ll be energized to open with them,” Whittet said. “Any time you can play the defending national champion, it’s a big challenge, but a welcome challenge.”

Bruno fared better than most teams did against Yale last season, splitting the season series 1-1 and shutting out the Bulldogs at home 1-0. The Bears will round out the opening weekend against Dartmouth.

The team returns 17 lettermen from last year, including the team’s leading scorer Lorito, captain Dennis Robertson ’14 and all but one defenseman.

“The run was really good for our team,” Robertson said. “We have a lot of guys returning, so we know what it takes to get to that level.”

“We have a lot of guys who have played in big games and crucial minutes,” Whittet said. “Last year we struggled a little bit in the beginning of the year. A lot of that had to do with the fact that we were young.”

The biggest departure from last season is goalie Anthony Borelli ’13, who set the tone for the team’s success with a save percentage and goals-against average both in the top five in the nation. The Bears also graduated five forwards on offense.

In the net, Marco De Filippo ’14 will face competition from two first-years, Tim Ernst ’17 and Tyler Steel ’17. Whittet said the job is still up for grabs and that he will try to put each player in a game situation early in the season. De Filippo filled the starting role for much of last season until Borelli took over midway through the schedule.

“It will sort itself out,” Whittet said. “The one who performs well will keep playing.”

An experienced defense led by Robertson, in his second year as team captain, will provide the centerpiece of this year’s squad.

On offense, Bruno hopes to find someone to complement Lorito’s prolific goal-scoring. Last season, Lorito led the team in nearly every offensive category and became the first Brown player in 15 years to score 20 goals in a season.

On Oct. 10, college hockey blog SB Nation named Lorito one of its top five candidates from the ECAC to receive the Hobey Baker Award, which is given annually to the nation’s most outstanding college hockey player.

“I don’t really think about it,” Lorito said. “The biggest thing is just to stay level-headed throughout the entire season.”

But Lorito scored more than 60 percent of the team’s goals last year, so he surely won’t catch any opponents by surprise. Whittet said he expects Lorito’s linemates, Nick Lappin ’16 and Mark Naclerio ’16, as well as Garnet Hathaway ’14 to help balance the offensive attack this year.

The top line of Lorito, Lappin and Naclerio did not come together until late last year, but it was very successful for Bruno down the stretch. Whittet said he will keep it intact, at least early in the season.

Despite last season’s success, Bruno was picked by ECAC coaches earlier this month to finish eighth out of 12 teams in the conference, only a slight improvement over Bruno’s previous last place selection in the same poll.

“We absolutely use it as motivation,” Robertson said. “We have confidence in ourselves, but we’ll have to send a message back to the league that first week.”

“I don’t put much stock into it,” Whittet said. “Going out and performing is more important than anything. We have to show people that we weren’t a one-year wonder. We have to show people that we’re a consistent program both within our league and nationally.”

Bruno will have its first homestand next weekend against ECAC opponents Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University.

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