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Coach Whittet '94 awaits excitement on ice, in stands

New men's hockey Head Coach Brendan Whittet '94 remembers when Meehan Auditorium was filled every Friday and Saturday night the hockey team played at home. He remembers students singing the national anthem, Bruno the mascot running around the stands, the Brown band playing on the ice.

And he wants it back.

Whittet will get his first chance to refill Meehan Saturday night, when the Bears take on the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in an exhibition game.

The game will be the Bears' second in an opening weekend that will begin in Princeton, N.J. Friday afternoon. The Bears will take on the Tigers in the Ivy Showdown — a game that will count toward the teams' overall records but not the ECAC standings.

Whittet remembers Meehan from his years as a Brown defenseman. His team won an Ivy League title in 1992, went to the ECAC Final Four Championship in 1993 and 1994 and got an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in 1993.

For the last 11 years, Whittet has seen the rink from behind the visitors' bench, as an assistant coach with the Dartmouth Big Green.

"I was shocked when I would come in here and see the lack of attendance, the lack of support,"  he said.

In order to bring more people into the stands, Whittet slashed season ticket prices for the community in half and hosted 60 local children for a skate with Brown players, he said.
While these efforts will get people to the rink, Whittet said, he hopes the hockey will keep them there.

"We've got to bring an exciting brand of hockey, and we will," Whittet said. "We're going to be very much up-tempo, we're going to be in your face, we're going to be physical, we're going to try and generate offense, and I think that's a good brand of hockey to play."

Last season's brand of hockey didn't fill the stands, and it didn't win games. Brown went 5-23-5 overall and 3-15-4 in ECAC play under Head Coach Roger Grillo. The Bears finished with the league's worst record, fewest goals per game and most goals against per game.

But Whittet said he doesn't want to dwell on last season.

This season, the Bears will be without Matt Vokes '09, who led the team in goals (10) and assists (17) a year ago, but they hope to get more ice time from another potent offensive threat. Captain Devin Timberlake '10 — who was sidelined with injuries for much of last year — will return after a season in which he had four goals and four assists in just ten games.

Still, the goal-scoring this year will have to come by committee, Whittet said.

Assistant captain Aaron Volpatti '10, who had the second-most goals on the team last year with six, said that committee must be led by the three captains who play forward — Timberlake, Volpatti and Jordan Pietrus '10.

Brown's fourth captain, Jeremy Russell '11, will lead the Bears' defense.

Whittet said he plans to play an aggressive style of defense, attacking at the blue line andoverloading in the corners.

"I want there to be some semblance of guys that are physical and tough and nasty and guys that, you know what, if somebody comes in their corner and they have a puck — that's fine. But you're not going to possess it for the next two minutes," Whittet said. "We're going to knock you through the wall, take the puck, and go the other way."

Who will stand behind Brown's defense still remains somewhat of a mystery. Although goalie Mike Clemente '12 will start against Princeton, Whittet said he doesn't know whether Clemente, Dan Rosen '10 or Anthony Borelli '13 will eventually become the No. 1 goalie.

"They're all very good goaltenders," Whittet said. "Unfortunately, only one can play. There's only one net."

Rosen was the starter at the beginning of last season, but Clemente eventually replaced him.

"It's a clean slate," Whittet said. "I don't really care what happened last year."

Volpatti said the competition for ice time has been intense this preseason.

"Everyone has a new opportunity,"  he said. "It's just a new breath of life."

Volpatti also said Whittet's  arrival has caused a buzz around Brown hockey that he hasn't seen in his time at Brown.

"It's a little bit of a culture change," said forward Jarred Smith '12. "It's a little more upbeat and energetic."

The Bears will get their first chance to show their new upbeat, energetic style of play this afternoon in Princeton at 4 p.m. The puck will drop in Meehan for the first time since Whittet took over the program at 7 p.m. tomorrow against UOIT.

"It's sort of a new era, I guess, in Brown hockey," Volpatti said. "And we want to pack that building like it was when ... Coach Whittet was here."


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