November 2, 2006

Bears Set for 82nd Season of Collegiate Competition

Nov. 2, 2006

Entering its 82nd season of collegiate ice hockey, the 2006-2007 edition of Brown Men's Ice Hockey is eager to begin the upcoming year with a fresh start after playing through a season that featured 13 overtime games, seven ties, and nine one-goal losses. Brown returns 17 letterwinners, including the top 10 scorers from last year, and nearly the entire defensive corps. Head Coach Roger Grillo, now in his 10th year, has one of his best conditioned teams and the Bears are ready to battle for a finish in the top half of the ECAC Hockey League.

GOAL
Returning: 1; Lost: 2; Newcomers: 2
The Bears enter this season with three talented goalies ready to challenge for the starting job, which is wide open after the departure of two-year starter Adam D'Alba '08 last spring. Sophomore Mark Sibbald and freshmen Dan Rosen and Tristan Favro will all look to win the starting job this fall.

Sibbald returns with six games (four starts) of experience, posting a 3.26 GAA and a .889 save percentage. He earned his first career start in February against Dartmouth and picked up a 2-2 tie with the Big Green, while stopping a career-high 34 saves. Rosen and Favro will also look to impress the coaching staff this fall and arrive at Brown with experience in the USHL (Rosen) and the EJHL (Favro).

DEFENSE
Returning: 5; Lost: 4; Newcomers: 3
With the return of nearly the entire defensive corps from last year, including three juniors who have been regulars on the blue line for the past two years, the Bears will once again have a deep and talented backline. With just one of the Bears' eight defensemen under 6-0 (5-11), the Bears enter the 2006-2007 season with size, strength, and experience.

Leading Brown from the backline will be the junior trio of Paul Baier, Sean Hurley, and David Robertson. Both Baier and Hurley played in 30 games last year, while Robertson played in 28, missing four games with an injury. All three are vital pieces of Brown's special teams and some combination of the three should make up part of the Bears' top power-play unit.

Baier, who at 6-4 is one of the biggest of the returning defensemen, posted six assists last year. Hurley returns as the leading scorer among Brown's defense with 15 points (6g,9a), third overall on the team. A natural athlete with great instincts, he was also second on the team in power-play goals, as all six of his scores came on the man advantage. An intelligent player, Robertson added eight points (1g, 7a), scoring his goal on the powerplay. All three have the necessary skills to effectively produce on both ends of the ice and are expected to lead the Brown blueline this season.

Also providing experience for the Brown defense are sophomores Matt Palmer and Mike Stuart. Palmer appeared in 12 games as a rookie, while adjusting to the collegiate game. He is a smart player who makes solid choices with the puck, and he should see more ice time this year. Stuart, who at 6-6 is the biggest of the returning defensemen, gained valuable playing time last year, especially late in the season, and is one of the most physical defensemen on the team. He played in 17 games, including all three in Brown's playoff series at St. Lawrence, and has a physical presence that provides an intimidating obstacle for opposing players.

With five returning defensemen, freshmen Jeremy Russell, Hunter Thunell, and Scott Van der Linden will all compete for time on the ice immediately.

FORWARD
Returning: 11; Lost: 5; Newcomers: 4
Headlining the 11 returning forwards are senior captain Sean Dersch and senior assistant captain Antonin Roux, and juniors Jeff Prough and Brian McNary, who all finished last season among the top five scorers and will all look to lead the Bears both in even strength and special team situations. With five legitimate scoring threats returning, several returning forwards with untapped potential, and four talented newcomers, Grillo could have the opportunity to put together three high-scoring lines, creating a challenge for the opposition.

Prough and McNary provide a one-two punch up front and are the top two scorers from last year's team. Prough, who earned Honorable Mention All-Ivy honors last year, led the Bears with 30 points (17g, 13a), including seven power-play goals and two game-winners. He was also Brown's leading scorer in ECAC Hockey League games with 23 points (12g, 11a) coming against league opponents. A speedy wing, Prough tallied at least one point in 21 of Brown's 32 games, including seven multiple point games and a seven-game point scoring streak (6g, 5a) to end the season. Just the third sophomore in Brown history to receive the team's MVP award, he was named to the ECACHL Honor Roll seven times throughout the season.

An aggressive forward, McNary played in 30 games last year, missing two due to an injury, and will also continue to contribute in all situations. He finished right behind Prough in scoring with 23 points (5g, 18a), including two power-play goals and 12 points (1g, 11a) in ECAC Hockey League games. The team's leader in assists, McNary tallied at least one point in 14 games last year and also ended the season on a seven-game point scoring streak (2g, 9a).

Dersch and Roux are both coming off back-to-back seasons in which they finished among the top eight scorers on the team. Dersch has played in all 96 games of his career and finished last season fourth on the team with 14 points (6g, 8a), including two powerplay goals. One of the hardest workers on the team, Dersch is one of the top penalty-killers on the roster and provides leadership both on and off the ice. Roux missed one game last season and finished right behind Dersch with 13 points (2g, 11a). At 6-2, he adds size to the front line and will be expected to use his frame to his advantage in winning battles along the boards. As an assistant captain, Roux will also provide leadership to a team that consists of nine freshmen and seven sophomores.

Senior Brian Ihnacak, the 2004 ECACHL and Ivy League Rookie of the Year, will look to return to the form he exhibited as a freshman and a sophomore. After posting 53 points (22g, 31a), including 11 power-play goals, in 61 games over his first two seasons, Ihnacak played in less than half of the Bears' games last year (15) and earned nine points on the season (3g, 6a). He has shown that he possesses the talent necessary to compete at this level and will look to provide more consistency in 2006-2007.

Junior Chris Poli, and sophomores Eric Slais, the recipient of the team's Kevin R. Pope Memorial Award as the Bears' most outstanding first-year player, and Matt Vokes will also look to provide more scoring for Brown this season. Poli finished the year eighth on the team with 10 points (4g,6a), including two powerplay goals. After notching four points (3g, 1a) in Brown's 2005 playoff series with RPI, he once again came alive during the playoffs, scoring four points (1g, 3a) in the Bears' series with St. Lawrence.

Slais (7g, 5a) and Vokes (4g,8a) finished tied for sixth on the team in scoring with 12 points each. Both gained valuable experience on the power-play with Slais scoring four extra-man goals and Vokes tallying two. Slais was one of Brown's most consistent performers down the stretch as he scored 11 of his 12 points in the final 16 games of the season.

Rounding out the returning forwards are junior Todd Johnson, and sophomores Ryan Garbutt and Sean Muncy. Johnson played in three games last season and provides a 6-4 frame to the front line. Garbutt played in 28 games last year and posted six points (2g, 4a), while leading the Bears with 61 penalty minutes. Muncy also saw considerable time last year, dressing in 19 games and posting two assists.

Four forwards make up the Class of 2010, including Sean McMonagle, Jordan Pietrus, Devin Timberlake, and Aaron Volpatti. All four add size, talent and strength to the roster and have the potential to make an immediate impact.