February 26, 2012

Bentley's Switzer brothers treasure time together

By Allen Lessels

The Bentley University forward came out of the corner with the puck and suddenly a couple of Niagara defenders swarmed him. 

Freshman forward Brett Switzer had been committed to Yale, but he wound up joining his older brother at Bentley when that situation didn’t work out. (Photo: SportsPix)

The Bentley defenseman moved deeper into the Niagara end toward the play and the forward saw an opening and slid the puck to him. The defenseman wound up for a one-timer, caught the puck just right and fired it past the goalie, and Bentley had a 2-0 lead.

Then, for a moment at least, the two Falcons celebrated.

“We were probably four or five feet away from each other and he turned and looked at me and we went to each other right away,” the defenseman said. “That was a big moment for me. I had goosebumps. I grabbed him and shook him and said, ‘This is awesome.’”

The forward got quite a kick out of the goal, too.

“That was one of my favorite moments since I started playing hockey,” he said. “It was a really cool experience. To not only be playing with my brother, but to get the first Switzer-from-Switzer goal. And the two of us celebrated together before the rest of the guys got there. That moment right there was pretty special.”

Mike Switzer, the senior defensemen, got the goal.

Brett Switzer, the freshman forward, set it up.

It was the type of exciting moment the Switzers had anticipated since Brett had decided to come down from Calgary, Alberta, and join his big brother at Bentley.

The Switzers and their Bentley teammates have had a few such moments this season. They’d love to tack on a few more as the regular season winds down and the postseason begins.

Chances are, if the Falcons are going to do some damage in the Atlantic Hockey playoffs, the Brothers Switzers will be in the middle of it.

As the Falcons put together a string of league games where they allowed two goals or less each game from early December well into January, coach Ryan Soderquist (Arlington, Mass.) praised the play of sophomore goalie Branden Komm, along with a couple of seniors in front of him, Mike Switzer and Trent Bonnett.

“They’ve been rock solid along with a couple of younger the guys,” the coach said. “But specifically, the seniors have bought into the blue-collar mentality.”

Mike Switzer helps lead the way and is finishing up an impressive Bentley career.

“He’s a big, strong, great-skating defenseman and he’s very physical,” Soderquist said. “He’s one of the best skaters on our team and he’s great at retrieving the puck, and he has skills with the puck.”

The coach likes what he’s seen of Mike’s little brother, too.

“He’s the absolute, complete opposite of Mike,” Soderquist said. “He’s a small, skilled guy that can score. He’s got a phenomenal skill set with his hands and his balance. The way he sees the ice and reads plays is great. We project him to do a lot of scoring for us over the course of four years.”

Not bad for a couple of guys who were late gets in the recruiting process for the Falcons.

Mike was playing his last year in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and it was getting late.

“I had been in touch with a couple of Division 3 schools, but I really wanted to play Division 1 if I got the opportunity,” he said. “But nothing was happening, and I was getting a little stressed out.”

One of his junior coaches had sent a player to Bentley previously and put in a call to the school. 

Bentley senior defenseman Mike Switzer, who led the way from Alberta, Canada, to Waltham, Mass., still plays big brother, protecting Brett on the ice. (Photo: SportsPix)

Mark White, then a Bentley assistant, and Soderquist were interested, and from that point, things progressed quickly and in short order Switzer became a Falcon.

Brett’s deal at Bentley came together late, and quickly, as well. He had been committed to Yale for some time, but that situation fell through and he started looking again.

Mike, a finance major, asked Soderquist for any suggestions for his brother and before long, Brett, who has not declared a major, was bound for Waltham, Mass., too.

In the end, each path was a little indirect, but the end result could not have worked out any better.

“I was real excited when I first committed here to go to school and play with him, and it’s even been way more exciting than I thought it would be,” Brett said.

“I didn’t want to be selfish and say, ‘You’ve got to come and play here with me,’” Mike said, “But I was looking forward to it. It’s all been real nice. I absolutely love having him here. He’s one of my best friends. We’ve grown up and matured, and I love having him around.”

Through January, Brett was tied for third on the team with six goals and second with 12 assists, and Mike had three goals and three assists for Bentley (8-12-6, 8-6-5 Atlantic).

At 6 feet and about 186 pounds, Mike has 4 inches and about 20 pounds on Brett and sticks up for him on the ice, Soderquist said.

Guilty, said the big brother.

“I was a little worried I’d be overprotective at first and get myself in trouble and maybe take penalties I shouldn’t take,” Mike said. “But Brett’s such a good player. He doesn’t really put himself in situations where he’s going to get hit, so I haven’t been too protective. But when something happens, I can’t help but get mad and go over and grab someone or say something.”

It’s long been that way, said the little brother.

“He’s always been like that, since we were little,” Brett said. “He’s always had that big brother looking out for the little brother role. I’ll take the help when I can get it.”

For one thing, he’s glad big brother is on his side.

“I mean, even from practice, I don’t like going in the corners with him,” Brett said. “He’s strong and intimidating, and one thing I’ve really noticed this year is his open-ice hitting. He can pick guys off in the middle and pop them and they’ll turn the puck over. That gets the guys on the team going.”

So do plays like the third period, game-winning, power-play goal Brett registered Jan. 14 to seal a 2-1 win at Air Force, a rare Bentley triumph in Colorado Springs that followed a tie the night before.

Bentley’s seniors had, in fact, not won at Air Force.

“To go out there and steal three points from them and have my brother put in the winning goal, that was real exciting,” Mike said.

As an added plus, Mike and Brett’s parents, as well as both sets of grandparents, had come down from Canada for the series.

Then, of course, there was that first Switzer-from-Switzer goal. After the brothers had their moment on the ice, they went back to the bench.

Mike looked down the bench and gave a yell: “Hey, Switzer. That was pretty cool.”

This article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

Allen Lessels can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com