Something Bruin' With Brown
Bears Win Three Straight Against Yale, UNH and Providence
by Josh Seguin/
DURHAM, N.H. Coming into the Whittemore Center on Friday night the Brown Bears had not won a game since 1930 in Durham, but all that changed with a win against a struggling New Hampshire.
Brown then followed it up with a thorough 5-2 win over cross-town rival Providence in the Mayor's Cup game on New Year's Day.
So far this season the Bears have defeated perennial ECAC powers Cornell and Yale as well as current ECAC power Union, but were only 4-6-1 on the young season before winning the last two to reach .500.
Although inconsistent at times in the early going, Brown is led by strong defensive play, timely scoring and their senior captain, Jack Macllellan. Maclellan centers a Brown first line that features two talented freshmen. This first line since being put together against Yale has combined for a total of 5 goals and 7 assists in two games.
“I am playing with two really good young players,” said senior Bear captain Jack Maclellan. “They kind of bailed me out a few times (against UNH). I am glad the team won and my line is playing very well.”
Defensively the Brown Bears outwork almost every team they play. On Friday night, Brown out-battled New Hampshire for 40 minutes of play. For the first two periods Brown kept up with the speed of UNH and kept them to the outside of the ice. This play limited UNH to few quality chances in the early going and one goal. Brown was rewarded in the first two periods by an early 3-0 lead and it led 3-1 going into the third period.
Good college hockey teams receive good goaltending no matter who is in the crease on any given night. In the third period of the game against UNH, Brown leaned on their goalie, who played in his first game of the season, Marco De Filippo. Usual starter Mike Clemente, who has been a stalwart in net for the past two seasons, including the current one, was given the night off and De Filippo did nothing but wow the road crowd in the third period against UNH.
The good goaltending is nothing new for Brown. Clemente has started 11 of 12 games this season for Brown and has done mastery work in the Brown net. He has had the ability in the past to beat good teams by himself. De Filippo’s performance on Friday against UNH proves that Brown may just have two goalies that can start on any given night.
“De Fillippo deserved the opportunity to play," said coach Brendan Whittet. “Going forward I think Mike (Clemente) has played really well for us and there have been a lot of games we haven’t scored a lot and he has been very good. We have three good goalies that work hard. Marco got the opportunity and played well.”
Strong defensive play and goaltending has been the Brown strong point on the season. Giving up just over 2.5 goals a game, Brown has been shutting teams down all season. Although they have been quite inconsistent in doing so, they are starting to reap the benefits of strong defensive play and goaltending, which will begin to build the team’s confidence.
With losses against American International, Holy Cross, and RPI on the season one could have written off Brown early in the season, but the wins that they have racked up in the early going show more about where this team may go in the near future.
“I think beating good teams speaks to what we are capable of and we can beat just about anybody,” said Jack Maclellan. “When we take a night off it hurts us and that’s why we are under .500 but I think that down the stretch we are really going to turn it around.”
Brown is a young team in key places. Two freshmen on the first line is not a common occurrence and two sophomores on the first defense pairing is not common either; but Brown is making it work for them. It is these young players that Whittet will rely upon in the future as he continues to schedule big games.
“I appreciate a team like UNH allowing us to come up here and play two years in a row. It is one of those things that it’s not that they won’t travel to you but we are a program that is trying to build," Whittet said. "In the future we would like to play home games against the powers of the East. When you are a program trying to build something special, who are we to ask the powers come to us.”
Even though UNH may be in the midst of a down year, beating another team that has some notoriety is huge for a program like Brown trying to gain its own notoriety in the East.
Building a team that can compete in the ECAC year and year out is the ultimate goal. Going ahead Brown has a bright future in the ECAC and success may come quicker than many would expect.
“Beating powers is great for Brown hockey and Rhode Island as a whole,” said Whittet. “I think it’s important for us to not be the flag-bearing team for ECAC hockey but to understand that there are some really good hockey teams in the ECAC. The results have to be born out on the ice for us and we look forward to challenges we are going to find."