Bears Set to Open Season This Weekend at Home against #10 Princeton and Yale

Bears Set to Open Season This Weekend at Home against #10 Princeton and Yale

Oct. 30, 2008

PROVIDENCE, RI - The Brown men's ice hockey team, under the direction of 12th-year head coach Roger Grillo, is set to open the 2008-2009 campaign this weekend when it hosts the Showcase at Meehan. The action starts on Friday, October 31, when Yale faces Ontario Institute of Technology in an exhibition game at 4:30. Brown will then host #10 Princeton in a non-league game scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday's action features an exhibition game between Princeton and UOIT at 4:30 with Brown and Yale scheduled to take the ice in the 7:30 game.

Both of Brown's games can be watched live on the internet by going to the audio/video portion of and following the links to B2 Networks. Video of the game is $7.00, while the audio only is free of charge. Audio of Friday's game against Princeton is internet only, while Saturday's game against Yale will be streamed on the internet and can also be heard locally on AM 790 WPRV.

Entering its 84th season of collegiate ice hockey, the 2008-2009 edition of Brown Men's Ice Hockey is eager to begin the upcoming year and improve upon last year's season. The Bears will be led by junior captain Devin Timberlake, who is Brown's 104th captain all-time and just the seventh junior to earn the honor. Senior assistant captain Matt Vokes and junior assistant captains Jordan Pietrus and Aaron Volpatti will join Timberlake in helping to lead Brown to a return trip to Albany for the Bank of America Championship.

Returning: 2; Lost: 0; Newcomers: 1
Brown once again enters the season with experience in net, as senior Mark Sibbald and junior Dan Rosen return to the team with a combined 73 games of experience.

Rosen appears to be the favorite to earn the starting role at the beginning of the season, having played in the majority of the Bears' games last year. He posted a 3.25 goals against average and a .904 save percentage in 25 games, while earning all of Brown's wins and ties during the course of the year. A one-time ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Week, Rosen had 15 games with at least 30 saves, including a season-high 44 in a 4-4 tie at St. Lawrence. The fastest goalie to record his 1,000th career save since Chris Harvey '90, who owns Brown's all-time saves record, Rosen posted his first career shutout in the Bears' final regular season game, a 2-0 victory over Union.

Sibbald appeared in eight games last season and finished the year with a 3.58 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. He recorded at least 30 saves in six of those games, and stopped a career-high 52 shots against Princeton. Both Rosen and Sibbald will be challenged by freshman Mike Clemente (Great Falls, VA), who joins the Bears from the U.S. National Team Developmental Program. Clemente played in 23 games last year, including seven with the Under-18 Team, where he posted a 2.88 GAA and a .879 save percentage.

Returning: 6; Lost: 3; Newcomers: 3
Brown's defense will be the youngest it has been in four years. The six returning players have combined for 221 career games, averaging just 37 games per person. Senior Matt Palmer has played in the majority of those games, appearing in 71 over the past three seasons. He will look to lead a defensive corps that will rely on the services of several underclassmen on a nightly basis. Palmer is smart player who will likely be a big part of the penalty-kill this season.

The Bears also welcome the return of sophomore Jeremy Russell, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. During the 2006-2007 campaign, Russell played in all 32 games and was Brown's leading freshman scorer with 14 points (3g, 11a). He was on the top power-play as a freshman will likely regain that spot this season. The Bears' expect Russell to help fill the void left by the graduation of Sean Hurley '08, who anchored the power-play and was one of the highest scoring defensemen in recent Brown history, Paul Baier '08, and David Robertson '08.

Brown also expects senior Mike Stuart to be back at full strength to help lead the defense this year. Stuart was on his way to a break-through season in 2006-2007 when he was sidelined with a knee injury in early December, keeping him off the ice for the remainder of the year. Stuart continued to be bothered by his injury last season and appeared in just 12 games. However, for the Bears to be successful at limiting their opponents' goal production, Stuart needs to be a healthy and consistent contributor. He will surely be a big part of Brown's special teams and the coaching staff is looking for him to use his 6'6" frame to his advantage.

Juniors Scott Van der Linden and Hunter Thunell also return with two seasons of experience under their belts. The coaching staff is expecting the duo to make the leap from underclassmen to upperclassmen, as they will help to lead Brown's defense and support the younger players' transition into the collegiate game. They were both in the line-up more often than not last year, with Thunell appearing in 24 games and Van der Linden playing in 19 and picking up four assists. Sophomore Sean Connauton also returns and will look to contribute more regularly. A solid two-way defender, he played in 10 games last year.

Brown's blue line will be bolstered by the addition of three talented freshman, including Jeff Buvinow (Turnersville, NJ), Riley LaForge (Edmonton, ALB), and Mike Wolff (Walpole, MA). Buvinow, an Honorable Mention All-New England selection in 2008, and Wolff, an EJHL All-Star selection last season, will look to contribute immediately. LaForge, on the other hand, is recovering from an injury and should be ready for competition towards the middle of the season.

Returning: 12; Lost: 2; Newcomers: 5

Despite having lost its leading scorer from each of the past three seasons, Brown's strength is the depth and experience of its front line. The challenge for Bruno will be putting the puck in the back of the net on a consistent basis, as the Bears look to return to the upper echelon of ECAC Hockey. With so many players who are capable of scoring, Brown may be able to put together at least three lines that would provide a challenge for the opposition to defend. Senior Ryan Garbutt, an Honorable Mention All-Ivy selection in 2008, leads a list of four players who all finished with double digits in scoring. In addition, there are several other players on the verge of a break through, which could lead to some high-scoring affairs.

Garbutt has been a consistent threat in each of the past two seasons, finishing second on the team last year with 23 points (12g, 11a) after a sophomore campaign that saw him score 13 points. The Bears' leading goal-scorer with 12, Garbutt also led Brown with eight power-play goals, double that of the next closest player. A strong player, Garbutt plays with an aggressive mentality and has been one of the team leaders in penalty minutes, having racked up 147 over the last three seasons. He will look to make that next leap, as Brown looks for its first 20-goal scorer since the 1997-1998 campaign.

Seniors Sean Muncy, Eric Slais, and Vokes will all look to close out their collegiate careers on a successful note this season, while providing leadership and experience to the lineup. All three have shown flashes of brilliance at some points in their careers, and will look to return to that level of play this season. Muncy had a break-through year as a sophomore, finishing the season ranked sixth on the team in scoring with 17 points and fifth on the team with eight goals, while leading Brown to a 6-0-1 record in games in which he scored at least one goal. Muncy never quite found the same chemistry he had with 2007 linemates Antonin Roux '07 and Sean Dersch '07 last season and finished with just seven points (3g, 4a), while spending time on all four of Brown's lines. Nevertheless, Muncy is one of the team's strongest penalty killers and will be expected to execute in that arena, while also elevating his scoring production.

Slais earned Brown's Rookie of the Year award in 2006, finishing the season with 12 points (7g, 5a), including four power-play goals, while notching 11 of his 12 points in the final 16 games of the season. Since then, Slais has posted just 12 points (3g, 9a) in 52 games. A versatile player, adept at both center and wing, Slais will be relied upon to provide consistent scoring, especially on the power-play.

Vokes also returns to the team, following an uncharacteristically down year, tallying just six points (3g, 3a) in 23 games. In his first two seasons, Vokes was among the Bears' top scorers, posting 12 points (4g, 8a) as a freshman and 18 (10g, 8a) as a sophomore, including six power-play goals. He battled through injury for a large portion of last season, but is healthy this year and should be a top offensive threat for the team.

Timberlake and junior Sean McMonagle also return to help lead the offense this season, having finished last year with 17 (7g, 10a) and 13 (6g, 7a) points, respectively. A true workhorse, Timberlake probably logged more minutes than everyone except for Hurley last season, centering Brown's top line, and playing on both the top power-play and penalty-kill. A face-off specialist, Timberlake was Brown's top face-off man, winning 413 of 797 taken (51.8%). He has played in all 63 games over the past two seasons and will again provide consistency to the Bears' lineup. McMonagle finished right behind Timberlake in scoring and was also just behind Timberlake in face-offs won and winning percentage. McMonagle will also be a valuable part of Brown's special teams and will likely center one of the top two lines, having won 226 of 492 (45.9%) face-offs taken last season.

Volpatti and Pietrus also return this season to help lead Brown up front. Though their point production was not as high as that of Garbutt, Timberlake, or McMonagle, both are needed to play solid and consistent hockey if Brown is to be successful, especially on the penalty-kill. Both play with an aggressive mentality and spent the majority of the season playing together on the second line with McMonagle. Volpatti finished the year with 10 points (4g, 6a) in 31 games, while Pietrus contributed eight points (6g, 2a) in 29 games.

Rounding out the returning forwards are sophomores David Brownschidle, Harry Zolnierczyk, Jesse Fratkin, and Tyler Fernandez. Each will look to contribute more regularly this season. All four bring talent to the Bears' front line and can help out in a variety of situations. Brownschidle played in all 31 games last year, earning the team's Rookie of the Year Award after notching six points (4g, 2a), including one short-handed goal and one game-winning goal. Zolnierczyk picked up three assists in 16 games, spending some time up on the Bears' top line, while Fratkin appeared in 27 games and notched two points (1g, 1a). Fernandez was in the lineup for seven games and will compete for more time on the ice this season.

Five freshmen make up the Class of 2012, some of whom may see the ice immediately. Bobby Farnham (North Andover, MA) comes to Brown from Phillips Andover, where he earned First Team All-New England honors. Mike Griffin (Hingham, MA) joins the Bears from Noble & Greenough, where he helped to lead his hockey team to two ISL Championships. Jack Maclellan (Calgary, ALB) was the leading scorer for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in 2008 with 93 points, while Garrett Noiles (Carlisle, ONT) averaged more than one point per game with the Port Hope Predators. Jarred Smith (Pepper Pike, OH) was an EJHL All-Star selection last season, while playing for the Bridgewater Bandits.