Men’s ice hockey’s frustrating season ends on appropriate note

Bruno comes close but falls short in season finale, mirroring results from difficult season

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, March 10, 2014

An up-and-down season for the men’s hockey team came to a fitting end as the Bears played well, but could not quite do enough to pull out a win. 

The story of Bruno’s season has been a disconnect between effort, execution and results. There is no question the Bears have given it their all this season, but they have performed inconsistently.

Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94 said he has been happy with the level of exertion he has seen out of his players this year, adding that he told them after Saturday’s season-ending loss that he was “not disappointed in their effort at all.”

Though Whittet asserted that effort was mostly not an issue, he was still scratching his head about the team’s struggles.

“We kind of just ran up against a wall,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure it out.”

Despite trying hard, the Bears had quite a few games where execution fell well short of where their efforts would suggest it might be. Going start-to-finish was a major issue for Bruno, one that reared its ugly head during the regular season’s final weekend, when the Bears lost consecutive games by a score of 3-0.

“A consistent trend wasn’t there,” said captain Dennis Robertson ’14 .

“It just comes down to getting the job done and that falls on us,” he added. “We didn’t get the job done.”

All season, the Bears seemed somewhat snakebitten: They would try as hard as they could but struggle regardless. An opposing goalie would stand on his head, or a bouncing puck would end up on the wrong stick. Getting the job done is even more challenging than usual when you fail to catch a break, even once in awhile. But Whittet did not cast blame on chance for his team’s struggles.

“I think you create your own luck,” he said.

Indeed, effort is not the only component of how a team plays, as the Bears could have addressed a range of issues to give themselves a better shot. Skill and strategy play a major part. But it simply seemed that the Bears could not put it all together consistently enough, and when they did, it was often too late. The only periods in which Bruno outshot St. Lawrence this weekend were the first overtime on Friday and the third period Saturday, necessary late-period efforts that could have been avoided with earlier strong showings.

Massimo Lamacchia ’15 noticed his team’s ability and potential, expressing his disappointment at Bruno’s first-round exit.

“We feel like we had a good enough team,” he said.

The fact that the Bears could have gone so much farther is “what’s so disappointing,” Whittet added. “We were there with the best teams in the country. We beat some of the best teams in the country.”

To say fortune was the sole cause of the team’s disappointing season would be foolhardy, but circumstances beyond the team’s control made success a bit more difficult than it should have been.

Headed into February, the Bears were playing well before running into the wall Whittet described. Some of the trouble came from playing great teams like No. 13 Cornell and No. 3 Union. But just as much was due to poor showings against lower-caliber teams like Princeton, to whom the Bears lost at home. Losing seven of nine games to end the regular season dropped Bruno out of position to host a first-round game, making the eventual matchup with the Saints that much harder.

Losing the final two regular season games at home was tough and “carried over” to the tournament, said Mark Naclerio ’16.

The team’s self-made obstacles may have compounded its struggles.

“Maybe at home, breaks go your way,” Whittet said.

Regardless of which way the breaks go, every team’s destiny is in its own hands. In keeping with this reality, Whittet signaled he was committed to improving the team’s performances, with an eye toward sustaining the Bears’ strong efforts and keeping the team’s level of play high at all times.

“We’ve got to be more consistent,” he said.

In the end, Whittet described the team’s season and championship aspirations best, with a nod to the forces Bruno could control and those it could not.

“It wasn’t meant to be.”

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