Bruno finished second-to-last in the league in goals scored last year with 50, and saying goodbye to Prough (7-19-26), Hurley (3-16-19) and Poli (6-12-18) isn’t likely to help matters. In total, the Bears parted ways with 20 of their 67 overall goals, and all five seniors ranked among the team’s top 11 scorers.
Coach Roger Grillo admits that last year wasn’t easy on him or his club.
“Last year was a disappointment for us, in that we haven’t been able to get over the top. A couple guys we were counting on didn’t have great years,” he said, adding, “the schedule put us behind the eight-ball” from the get-go: Brown played 11 of its first 13 games on the road.
“This year’s [schedule] is much better,” he said.
Home games or no home games, Grillo hopes he won’t have to go to the GPS device to find some goals.
“We have a senior class that can really do some damage for us if they can get going,” he indicated, citing Garbutt (12-11-23), Sean Muncy (3-4-7), Matt Vokes (3-3-6) and Eric Slais (1-4-5) as players who have the talent and the experience necessary to frustrate some goalies. (The quartet combined for 29 goals and 26 assists two years ago.)
Junior Devin Timberlake (7-10-17) will sport the “C” on his chest, as determined by both his teammates and coaches.
The Bruin blueline lost offensive rearguards Hurley and Paul Baier (2-5-7), but Grillo expects the returning corps and the four incoming freshmen to put up quite a fight for the vacated ice time. Along with the newbies and those who saw action last year, junior Jeremy Russell returns to the fold after missing all of 2007-08 with an injury.
“We missed him a lot last year,” said his coach. Russell led his freshman class in scoring with three goals and 11 helpers in ’06-07.
Grillo also looks toward senior Matt Palmer (0-2-2) and junior Scott Van der Linden (0-4-4) to turn the corner this season. While Palmer played 30 of Brown’s 31 games last year, Van der Linden only skated in 19.
Among the newcomers, six-two 20-year-old Michael Wolff and 18-year-old Gunnery product Jeff Buvinow earned specific mention as players who “have a chance to make an immediate impact,” according to the coach.
The leading returning scorer among the league’s goalies last year (two assists, tied with Colgate senior Mark Dekanich last season) returns to the Providence paint in the form of junior Dan Rosen.
The ‘keeper played in 25 contests last season, but couldn’t duplicate his brilliant freshman campaign. Rosen finished with a mediocre .904 save percentage and an unnecessarily high 3.25 goals-against average overall. Between an overworked defense and hot-and-cold goaltending, Brown finished last in ECAC Hockey with a 3.48 goals-against average.
“He had a great freshman year… he played really well last year as well, but struggled at times,” said the coach.
Rosen began the year with four straight two-goal games, but couldn’t beat that performance for the rest of the year — his only comparable stretch occurred in late February, giving up four in a win at Dartmouth, followed by two two-goal games and a shutout against Union.
Rosen has certainly demonstrated the ability to be a big-time goalie, but his inconsistency under constant fire demands an upgrade in his defensive unit.
Grillo and Brown are banking on the predominantly unproven abilities of the Bears, and while the defense looks palatable, there is simply no one up front to shoulder the load. It’s anybody’s game in the ECAC, but only to a point: this is a bottom-four team.