Men’s hockey to open season against Yale, Vermont

Bruno emphasizes team identity, industry as it opens 2018-19 campaign this weekend

Sports Editor
Friday, October 26, 2018

The men’s hockey team opens regular season competition this weekend with a pair of contests at Meehan Auditorium. The Bears are slated to play 29 contests before playoffs begin in March.

As the lights turn on and the crowd gathers in Meehan Auditorium tonight, familiar sets of blades prepare to take the ice.

Opening its 2018-19 campaign, the Bears will begin their season with a pair of home contests, hosting Ivy rival Yale tonight before facing the University of Vermont (1-1) in a non-conference matchup this Sunday.

The Bears will lace up their skates following a month and a half of preparation on and off the ice. The team started training in late September and began official practices in the first week of October.

“The team is coming together very well,” said Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94. “We’ve been working a lot each day on just having good habits, … making sure we’re doing the right thing every time we step on the ice and improving each and every day. Having that kind of accountability will ultimately lead to good things on Fridays and Saturdays when we play.”

This season’s team features a core group of 20 returning players, four of whom ranked among the top five point scorers in the 2017-18 season. Co-captain Tommy Marchin ’19 paced Bruno’s offensive efforts with a team-high 12 goals last year, followed by Assistant Captain Zach Giuttari ’20, who led defensemen with 16 points. Co-captain Max Gottlieb ’19 also returns to the squad after earning Second Team All-Ivy honors in his junior campaign.

In addition to this trio, other members of the squad have also adopted leadership roles and contributed to a sense of cohesiveness among the team, Gottlieb said.

“Other guys that aren’t (assistant captain) or (captain) do a really good job of keeping morale high and competing every day,” he said. “That’s what we kind of need from everyone if we’re going to go where we want to go this year.”

“Everyone has a leadership role,” Giuttari said. “We want everyone to help each other out, so it’s all about just building a team.”

Bruno has also added depth to its roster with a freshman class of six, including four forwards, one defenseman and one goaltender. The first-years have integrated well with the team and have delivered impressive performances on the ice so far, Marchin said.

“They know the roles that they should be doing, and in the scrimmages that I’ve seen, they are fulfilling those perfectly,” he said.

The first-year class has also created a higher level of competition and developed a sense of team chemistry, Gottlieb added.

“These guys are right in there like they’ve been here for a couple of years, which is great because the competitiveness of every day is just that much better,” he said.

As the season commences, Bruno looks to improve upon last year’s 10th place finish in the ECAC standings with an approach that emphasizes industry and everyday processes of improvement.

“You always have to look at it with a growth mindset, so where we are today ultimately is not where we’re going to be in March when the puck is dropped in the playoffs,” Whittet said. “That being said, the day-to-day approach just means focusing on the process (and) understanding that each day is a new opportunity to improve.”

The team needs to “take it day-by-day, step-by-step, shift-by-shift,” Giuttari added. “Every practice you have to be ready from the moment you step on the ice until you get off the ice. Even after practice ends and the coaches get off, we have guys always staying out there working on other stuff, whether (it is) shooting, skating (or) passing.”

The development of a team identity has also been a focus of this year’s squad, as the Bears seek to establish themselves as competitive opponents in the league and build the status of the program.

“This year … we’re really confident in how we’re doing and developing our own identity instead of trying to find one or (saying) that we have an identity then try to reach it — we’re kind of developing it ourselves,” Marchin said. “We want to go into games knowing that we can win, and we want other teams to know that it’s going to be a tough night playing against us and it’s going to be a battle.”

This weekend’s matches follow a 3-1 scrimmage victory over Princeton and 2-2 tie against Yale last Saturday. The Bears will play 29 games in regular season competition, which includes 22 conference contests before playoffs open in March. They will also compete at the Dartmouth Ledyard Classic and Three Rivers Classic tournaments in December and January, respectively.

“We’ve gotten off to a great start, especially with these games this past weekend,” Giuttari said. “We’re looking like we’re heading in the right direction this year, so we’re all really excited.”

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

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