The year 2012 has not been kind to Brown so far, as a dismal second half rife with injuries was capped with a high-profile recruiting defection. Coach Brendan Whittet was never one to lament, though, and is ready to learn from past mistakes and move on to a new year.
“Looking back on last year … our problem has been consistency,” he said. “We struggled down the stretch. Some of that was out of our hands — some of that was injury to key members of our team — but a lot of it was in our control.”
As far as the recruiting headache, standout sniper Kevin Roy backed out of a verbal commitment at the last minute in favor of a spot on Northeastern’s roster. Though miffed, Whittet is through worrying about a player that is no longer his responsibility.
“We choose not to focus on those individuals that don’t want to be a part of our program,” he said.
As for those players he has, “We’re still a young program and a young team,” Whittet said. “A lot of my key players are still young guys. For us, the biggest thing we have to do coming into this year is understand the effort, the consistency and the approach that we need to take in order to win consistently in a very good hockey league.”
The winter and spring of 2012 was defined by losses both on and off the ice, as banged-up bodies led to a 1-10-2 record to finish the season.
“It was disappointing down the stretch,” Whittet said. “I look back at the end of January, we were .500 in the league and we struggled in February and into the playoffs. We need to take a step forward this year.
“We’re not here … to be the steppingstone for other teams in our conference. We’re here to win a championship.”
The coach doesn’t begrudge his colleagues for Brown’s place in the coaches’ poll, citing a lack of conspicuous firepower.
“I don’t believe we have any superstars,” Whittet said. “I know why we were picked last.”
That said, “I think we have the makings of a really good team with the guys that are here,” Whittet added. “Matt Lorito had a really good freshman year; you’re talking about a kid that had a broken wrist and missed the first 10 games of the year. He put up really good point totals, and he’s going to be a dynamic player in our league. Ryan Jacobson had 12 goals as a freshman. Chris Zaires needs to have a year where he gets back to what makes him successful: He needs to generate offense, and that’s what we’re going to lean on Chris for.”
In goal, junior Marco De Filippo will challenge senior Anthony Borelli for time between the pipes.
“We lost Mike Clemente. Well, you know what? We have two goaltenders who might be better than Mike Clemente,” Whittet said. “Who the hell knows until we drop the puck and we play?”
It will take a lot of work, a lot of health and probably a little luck for Bruno to ditch its preseason position by the end of the year, but crazier things have happened in ECAC Hockey.
About the Bears
2011-12 overall record: 9-18-5
2011-12 ECAC record: 5-13-4 (12th)
2012-13 predicted finish (coaches’ poll): 12th
Key losses: D Jeff Buvinow, G Mike Clemente, F Bobby Farnham, F Jack Maclellan
Players to watch: F Chris Zaires, D Dennis Robertson, F Ryan Jacobson, F Matt Lorito
Impact rookies: F Nick Lappin, F Joe Prescott
Why the Bears will finish higher than the coaches’ poll: Scoring will come from individuals having breakout seasons and by committee; Borelli and/or De Filippo will carry on the Brown tradition of frustrating the entire league with stellar performances.
Why the Bears will finish in line with the coaches’ poll: The defense and goaltending will succumb to injuries and/or fatigue, and reliable offense will never materialize.