Brown Gets a Taste of Elite Hockey
by Dan Guttenplan
Brendan Whittet might have thought rebuilding the Brown hockey program would be easy after his first season as head coach in 2009-10.
That year, he took a team that logged a cumulative record of 27-77-22 in the four years prior to his hire to the ECAC Hockey tournament semifinals. Sure, the Bears backed into the tournament as the 11th seed, but they peaked at the right time, eventually winning the third-place game against St. Lawrence.
Reality set in for Whittet in years 2 and 3. Due to his late hire in August 2009, he didn't bring in his first recruiting class until the 2010-11 season. The veterans on his first couple of teams were used to finishing at the bottom of the ECAC standings, and Whittet's recruits were young, inexperienced and adapting to a new system on the fly.
The Bears logged a cumulative record of 19-34-10 in Whittet's second and third seasons, finishing no higher than ninth in the ECAC standings.
"There were times in the last four years when I wondered if I was on the right track," Whittet says. "I wondered if I had the right makeup on the team. Are these players going to get to those championship games and excel in that environment?"
Whittet (East Providence, R.I.) received the answer he was looking for in March when his first recruiting class — now juniors — led the Bears to the ECAC championship game for the first time since 1993. Needing a win over Union in the tournament championship to clinch their first NCAA tournament berth since 1993, the Bears fell just short in a 3-1 loss to the back-to-back ECAC champions in Atlantic City.
Still, Brown finished with a winning record (16-14-6) for the first time since 2004-05. When the team last played in an ECAC tournament championship game in 1993, Whittet was a junior on the team.
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