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Defensive miscues prove costly in disappointing men's hockey season opener

Bruno’s first contest of season highlights areas to improve upon for upcoming conference match-ups

Last year, the men’s hockey team let up five goals to a strong Holy Cross team in one of its worst defeats of the year. Bruno could not find the back of the net and was thoroughly beaten by a decent team.

Flash forward to this year and a new Bears (0-1) squad — fresh with four new defenders and a couple of new forwards — put up five goals against the Crusaders (2-4).

But some of the same issues from last year came back to bite Brown, as it fell 7-5 in a wild, back-and-forth affair that showed Bruno’s predictable rust in its first game of the year.

Brett Lubanski got Holy Cross off the board first when a defensive turnover by Tyler Wood ’17 left goalie Tim Ernst ’17 helpless. Lubanski latched onto a pass off the turnover and put it into an empty net.

The Bears answered 16 seconds later. Tommy Marchin ’19 — one of the five first-years who played — took a shot that was saved directly into the path of an onrushing Nick Lappin ’16, who made no mistake.

Brown’s defensive turnovers reared their ugly head again minutes later, as Holy Cross’ Matt Vidal was able to skate toward Ernst virtually unguarded. While Vidal’s shot appeared to have been saved by Ernst, the puck squeaked by the junior to give the Crusaders a lead. But Pittsburgh Penguins draftee Sam Lafferty ’18 equalized later in the period thanks to helpers from Zack Pryzbek ’17 and Josh McArdle ’18.

Bruno took its first and only lead of the game after Joey Prescott ’16 took advantage of a critical mistake from the Crusader goalie. Alex Brink ’19 and Davey Middleton ’17 got their first assists of the season on the Prescott tally.

But the Crusaders played their best period of hockey after Brown took the lead, scoring three unanswered goals before the start of the third period. A tough 5-on-3 situation for nearly two minutes yielded a Holy Cross goal. Less than two minutes later, Brett Mulcahy got his first goal of the game to give the Crusaders a lead.

The worst of the Bears’ defensive lapses came on the power play with less than a minute left, when Holy Cross was able to make a shorthanded rush toward Ernst. The junior made an impressive acrobatic save on the first attempt, but the rebound sat right in the crease for a tap-in for Castan Sommer.

The third period started in Brown’s favor, as Marchin got his first goal of his career only 37 seconds into the frame. Less than three minutes later, captain Mark Naclerio ’16 got his first of the season to tie the game up at 5.

“We generated a lot of good chances all night,” Naclerio said. “We got pucks to the net, but we just have to limit our goals against.”

Unfortunately for the Bears, Sommer got his second goal of the game to give the Crusaders a lead that they would not relinquish. Mike Barrett got the last goal of the game, and Holy Cross’ seventh, on a power play. The final score was 7-5, which smashed last year’s season high of nine total goals in a game.

“A lot of the problems had to do with turnovers and mental mistakes,” Naclerio said. “You could tell that it was our first game and it was their sixth, but we just have to fine-tune our issues.”

The Bears’ penalty kill gave up two goals — though one was the result of a two-man advantage — while the power play gave up a goal and scored none. Specialty teams have been a major weakness for Brown all year, and the first game of the 2015-16 season was no different.

“We’re still getting used to the penalty kill,” Naclerio said. “The 5-on-3 goal hurt. On the power play, we just overcomplicated things a little bit. We need to manage the puck better and generate more chances.”

Brown will enter conference play next weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth.

“We’re looking forward to a good week of practice,” Naclerio said. “We want to take some momentum into next weekend. These are two league games and are of utmost importance, so we need to be ready for that.”



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