Brown coach Brendan Whittet was adamant last season that there was more to the Bears than just senior goalie Anthony Borelli.
That may be the case, but there’s no doubt that replacing Borelli will be one of the biggest tasks for Brown entering this season. The senior goaltender took over the starting job in December after not playing for two years and finished third nationally in save percentage in addition to posting four shutouts.
The Bears finished over .500 last year for the first time since 2004-05, and beat top-ranked Quinnipiac in the opening game of the ECAC championship before losing to Union in the final.
They’ll have several candidates to replace Borelli in net, but Whittet isn’t revealing any front runners.
“We have no preconceived notion about who is going to be our starting goaltender,” he said. “We’ll let it sort itself out in practice.”
Candidates include freshmen Tyler Steel and Tim Ernst, along with senior Marco DeFilippo.
It was an injury to DeFilippo that allowed Borelli to get a chance — somewhat fitting, considering the injuries that the Bears dealt with last year, especially on defense.
Defenseman Nate Widman was lost for the year with an ACL injury in the third game of the season, while forward Ryan Jacobson, Brown’s second-leading scorer two years ago, was done in early February with an ACL injury as well.
“I don’t think it was so much offseason condition or training or anything of that nature,” Whittet said. “We need a little bit of luck. The adjustment is such that you are playing guys you weren’t expecting in those specific roles.”
One of those players who moved around was forward Jake Goldberg, who switched to defense at midseason. Goldberg held his own, but Whittet would prefer to not have to manipulate his roster again.
The Bears might have better luck with injuries, but they’ll need some offensive production from someone other than forward Matt Lorito, who quietly ranked among the national leaders with 22 goals last season.
Lorito’s numbers were even more impressive considering Brown had no one else with more than seven goals. Sophomore Mark Naclerio finished with 23 points and was an excellent faceoff man for the Bears last season, while a bump in production from forwards Nick Lappin or Garnet Hathaway would help spread the offense throughout the Brown lineup.
The Bears will get a chance to see where they stand right away, as Brown opens the season Oct. 25 against defending national champion Yale as part of the Liberty Invitational.
About the Bears
2012-13 overall record: 16-14-6
2012-13 ECAC Hockey record: 7-9-6 (seventh)
2013-14 predicted finish: Eighth in both the coaches’ and media polls
Key losses: F Chris Zaires, D Richie Crowley, G Anthony Borelli
Players to watch: F Matt Lorito, F Mark Naclerio, D Dennis Robertson
Impact rookies: G Tyler Steel, G Tim Ernst
Why the Bears will finish higher than predicted: Brown finds a replacement for Borelli, complements its grind-it-out defense with some more offense and stays healthy.
Why the Bears will finish lower than predicted: Lorito is forced to carry the offense again, and Brown can’t stay healthy for a second season in a row.