Bear-ing Its All
Brown Has Something to Build on After Championship Game Loss
by Joshua Seguin/Staff Writer
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. Brown made it to its first ECAC final since 1993 and gave eventual champion, Union, everything it could handle and then some. Despite going down 3-0, early in the second period the Bears continued to claw and fight. It cut into the lead, then had a big shot edge in the third period.
It wasn't enough for the seventh-seeded Brown, which fell short of magical ECAC title.
“It's athletics, it's life,” said Brown coach Brendan Whittet. “We worked as hard as we possibly could and sometimes things don’t go the way you envision them. It’s a lesson for the boys, its really hard. There is a family of guys that are devastated because they had a vision and that vision was to win the ECAC championship. We didn’t accomplish that but there is nothing to hang their head about. We tried to create our breaks but didn’t get enough of them.”
The Bears went back to Providence as the runner up in the ECAC, not bad for a team that went under .500 in conference games during the regular season; definitely not a thing to be ashamed of. The season was also one of the most successful in recent memory for the program, a program on the rise.
“I look at this past year as a success,” said Whittet. “It is the first time a Brown team has finished with 16 wins in a long time and the first time with a winning record in a long time. We went 5-2 in the playoffs and made it to the ECAC championship for the first time since 1993. So a lot of good thing happened this year and I am really proud of our guys and the way the direction of the program.”
For Brown, it was the culmination of four years of building under Whittet, who took over at his alma mater in 2009. Before Whittet arrived at Brown, the four years prior were trying for the program. In those years, Brown went a combined 27-77-22.
“We set about trying to create a culture; a culture that would allow us to sustain excellence," Whittet said. "Are we there yet? No, but we are definitively making strides. I love this school, I wore the uniform and when I took the job I did so knowing that it was not going to be easy. We had to basically not rebuild, we had to build a hockey team and hockey program. I feel good about the strides we are making. If I looked at my plan, in my mind’s eye, I would have said this would be the year, my first recruiting class is juniors, this would be the year we would be able to make definitive steps. I saw that transformation when I was a player under Bob Gaudet and that similar transformation I hope is taking hold.”
The build hasn't come easy, but Whittet deserves a lot of credit. Brown sticks to their systems, competes every shift and everybody does the job that is asked of them. Those things are all a coach can ask for. On Friday night, the Bears shocked the No. 1 seed, Quinnipiac. But Saturday, the Bears met the one team that was hotter than them in the ECAC.
Unfortunately for Brown, they still have an NCAA drought of 20 years on going, and have only been to one tournament in 37 seasons. Every step for the past four seasons has been a baby step in the right direction and it seems as though it may be on the cusp.
On Saturday, Brown had the opportunity to do something it never had done in its 115-year history, win a conference title. Few teams win titles without the big game experience. The experience will be used as a teaching tool for the future and the players will only gain.
“This was a good experience for my guys,” said Whittet. “Getting here and now we will strive to get back in this situation. When we are back in these situations again we are going to have the experience. Union is a team that won back to back championships. They didn’t win their first one but they were here. That experience is invaluable.”