Brown Men's Ice Hockey Opens Official Practices

Under the direction of first-year head coach Brendan Whittet '94, the Brown men's ice hockey team is set to begin official practices today for its 85th season of collegiate competition. The Bears are eager to begin the new season, as there is a renewed sense of energy and excitement about the team. Helping to lead Brown this year are senior tri-captains Jordan Pietrus, Devin Timberlake, and Aaron Volpatti, as the Bears look to improve upon last season's 12th place finish.

GOAL
Returning: 2; Lost: 1; Newcomers: 1

As has been the case over the past several years, Brown enters the season with a wealth of experience at the goaltending position. Senior Dan Rosen and sophomore Mike Clemente split time in net last year and both will be challenged by freshman Anthony Borelli (Grand Island, NY).

Based on last year's finish, Clemente appears to be the front-runner for the starting job, but Rosen is expected to battle for the position and push Clemente. After backing Rosen up for the majority of the first part of the season, Clemente emerged as the favorite in mid-January and played in the final 11 games of the season. He led Brown with a 2.67 GAA and a .930 save percentage, which ranked third in the ECAC, third all-time at Brown, and was a new Brown record for save percentage in a season by a freshman goalie. Clemente shocked the hockey world in Brown's first-round ECAC Hockey playoff series when he stopped all 86 shots he faced in two games, as Brown became the first team ever to shut out the Crimson in back-to-back games on their home ice.

Rosen will look to regain his form from his first two seasons, during which time he posted a 2.98 GAA and a .913 save percentage. Last season, he battled through injuries for a large part of the year, and posted a 3.93 GAA and a .900 save percentage in 15 games. Rosen will enter his final season with 2,051 career saves, which currently ranks third all-time at Brown.

Both Clemente and Rosen will be challenged by Borelli, who joins the Bears from the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. In 26 games last season, Borelli posted a 2.47 GAA and a .915 save percentage to go along with a 15-6-2 record and one shutout.

DEFENSE
Returning: 7; Lost: 2; Newcomers: 3

Brown's defense went through some growing pains last season with two seniors, two freshmen, and one sophomore consistently in the lineup with the sixth player rotating between a junior and a sophomore. That experience will hopefully pay off in 2009-2010, as the Bears' defensive corps has combined for 249 career games. Junior Jeremy Russell provides the most experience, having played in all 65 games of his career, and will look to lead the Bears defense along with sophomore Jeff Buvinow.

After missing the entire 2007-08 season due to an injury, Russell returned to the team last fall and picked up where he left off in 2007, playing in all 33 games and playing on the top power-play unit. An offensive-minded defenseman, Russell was the second-leading scoring defenseman, posting seven points (1g, 6a), including one power-play goal.  Buvinow had a tremendous freshman campaign, earning Second Team All-Ivy and ECAC All-Rookie honors at the conclusion of the season. The Bears' second leading scorer, in 2009 with 17 points (3g, 14a), Buvinow was the anchor of Brown's top power-play unit. He and Russell will both be looked upon to lead the defense this season, especially from an offensive standpoint.

Senior Hunter Thunell and sophomore Mike Wolff also provide experience for the Bears' defense, as both played in 22 games last year. Wolff is a steady player on the defensive end who makes smart decisions with the puck and has the ability to chip in offensively from time-to-time. He posted three points (1g, 2a), scoring his first career goal in the Bears' victory at Quinnipiac last year. A stay-at-home defenseman, Thunell was in-and-out of the lineup for most of the year, but will compete for a more consistent spot in the lineup this year.
   
Senior Scott Van der Linden and junior Sean Connauton will also look to contribute more on the ice this year. Both are stay-at-home defensemen and provide experience to the Bears' lineup. Connauton played in 19 games and was a valued member of the penalty-kill, while Van der Linden appeared in nine games last season. Sophomore Riley LaForge also returns and will look to earn a spot in the lineup this year. A solid two-way defender, he was injured for most of the first half of the season and played in one game.
   
Brown's blue line will be bolstered by the addition of three talented freshman, including Evan Atkinson (White Rock, BC), Richie Crowley (Canton, MA) and Scott Harff (Watertown, NY). Atkinson posted 12 points last season with the Langley Chiefs of the BCHL, while Harff earned 15 points in 2008-09 at St. Paul's School. Crowley joins the Bears having spent the past two seasons with the U.S. National Team Developmental Program.
    
FORWARD
Returning: 11; Lost: 4; Newcomers: 5
   
Senior tri-captains Jordan Pietrus, Devin Timberlake, and Aaron Volpatti will look to lead the Bears up front this season, having finished last season among the top seven scorers on the team. All three are valuable members of the team, both on and off the ice, and are regular contributors on both the power-play and penalty-kill. Playing coach Whittet's up-tempo style should further assist their game, as all three play a quick and aggressive style. Pietrus and Volpatti both finished with 13 points and were tied for fourth on the team in scoring. Volpatti also had three power-play goals and one short-handed goal, while Pietrus scored two power-play goals and one game-winning goal. Timberlake's season was cut short due to an injury 10 games into the year, but he still finished seventh on the team in scoring with eight points (4g, 4a), including four power-play goals
   
Senior Sean McMonagle will also continue to be a valued member of the front line. He finished the season tied with Timberlake with eight points (3g, 5a) and is a key piece of Brown's power-play, having scored two goals on the man-advantage last year. Sophomores Jarred Smith, Bobby Farnham, and Jack Maclellan are also expected to be a big part of the team up front. The trio spent time together on Brown's third line last year and gained valuable experience, playing in at least 30 games. Smith and Farnham both finished the year with seven points (4g, 3a), while Maclellan had six (2g, 4a). 

Rounding out the returning forwards are juniors David Brownschidle, Harry Zolnierczyk, Jesse Fratkin, and Tyler Fernandez. Each will look to contribute more regularly this season. Brownschidle and Zolnierczyk have the most experience of the quartet, having played in 24 and 31 games respectively, last season. They both finished with a goal and an assist and will look to increase their scoring this season. Fratkin appeared in 12 games, while Fernandez played in one last year, as both will compete for more game time this season.

Five freshmen make up the Class of 2013, some of whom may see the ice immediately. Francis Drolet (Lachine, QUE) comes to Brown from the Salisbury School, where he was a captain for the 2009 New England Champions. Jeff Ryan (Media, PA) played for the Boston Junior Bruins last season, finishing fifth on the team in scoring with 42 points. Marc Senecal (North Bay, ONT) joins the Bears after three seasons with the Wellington Dukes of the OJHL. An Assistant Captain last season, Senecal was named the Dukes' Playoff MVP. Trevor Smyth (DeWinton, ALB) comes to Brown after spending last season with the Ft. McMurray Oil Barons. An Assistant Captain in 2009, Smyth finished fourth on the team in scoring with 41 points. Chris Zaires (Aberdeen, NJ) joins the Bears after one season with the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the BCHL. The team's leading scorer during the regular season, Zaires also led the Capitals in scoring during the playoffs.