November 1, 2013

ECAC Journal: Naclerio, Brown set lofty goals for 2013-14

By Dan Guttenplan

The first reaction upon hearing Brown sophomore forward Mark Naclerio (Milford, Conn.) declare last season "disappointing" is confusion.

Didn't Brown post its first winning season since 2004-05? Didn't Brown advance to the ECAC Hockey tournament championship game for the first time since 1993?

"Yeah, we were disappointed with that," Naclerio said. "This season, we have bigger goals than that. We're not going to be happy if the season ends the same way."

This season started in a different way for the Bears last weekend when they opened with a 4-1 victory over defending national champion Yale at the Liberty Hockey Invitational. Brown made its case as the team to beat in the Ivy League with another victory -- a 5-3 defeat of Dartmouth on Saturday night.

"A lot of teams might have been nervous about opening the season against the defending national champions, but we looked at it as an opportunity," Naclerio said. "We think we can play with anyone if play to our potential, so we were looking forward to opening the season against the best."

Naclerio recorded seven points with three goals and was a plus-6 in the weekend set, taking some of the pressure of last year's returning scorer, Matt Lorito, who is coming off a 22-goal campaign.

"Lorito's the guy everyone expects to score for us, but I want to take on more of that this season," Naclerio said. "Last year we struggled to score all season, so it's something we're all trying to improve."

Brown's recent ascent overlaps a period in which the entire roster has become filled with players that head coach Brendan Whittet recruited. Now in his fifth season, Whittet, a Brown alumnus, has sold recruits on the idea that the school can become a hockey powerhouse.

"He's gotten the guys he's looking for," Naclerio said. "He believes Brown can compete for championships even though there's not much history. I think everybody believes that can happen."

Player of the Week

Mark Naclerio (Milford, Conn.), So. forward, Brown University

Naclerio led the Bears to a perfect 2-0-0 showing at the Liberty Hockey Invitational. He scored two goals, including the game-winner, and added an assist in the team's season-opening 4-1 victory over defending national champion Yale Friday. The sophomore came back the next day and once again scored the game-winning tally to go along with three helpers for a career-high four points in a 5-3 win against Dartmouth. For his efforts, Naclerio was named MVP of the Liberty Hockey Invitational.

Game of the Week

Quinnipiac at Cornell (Saturday, 7 p.m.)

Cornell will play its first home set this weekend after going 7-for-15 on the power play last weekend in a two-game sweep of host Nebraska Omaha to open the season.After a season-opening 3-1 loss at Alaska-Anchorage, Quinnipiac has rattled off six consecutive victories - including a two-game home-and-home sweep of nationally ranked UMass-Lowell. More recently, the Bobcats defeated Bentley once and Holy Cross twice last week.

ECAC Rankings

1. Quinnipiac (6-1-0): As if the Bobcats needed any more firepower this season, they received plenty in the form of freshman Sam Anas, who scored five goals last weekend in wins over Bentley and Holy Cross.

2. Cornell (2-0-0): The Big Red scored four power-play goals for the first time in nearly four years when they capped a season-opening sweep of Nebraska Omaha with a 4-3 victory Saturday night at CenturyLink Center Omaha.

3. Clarkson (6-1-1): The Golden Knights are off to their best start in seven years, and they open ECAC Hockey play this weekend with big tests against Yale and Brown.

4. RPI (4-1-1): As has become customary for RPI's first home league game, all fans were encouraged to wear black when the Engineers hosted Harvard October 29.

5. Brown (2-0-0): Sophomore forward Mark Naclerio (Milford, Conn.) recorded seven points last weekend as Brown swept Yale and Dartmouth in the Liberty Hockey Invitational.

6. St. Lawrence (4-2-0): Freshman Matt Carey, the brother of teammate and All-American forward Greg Carey, had two goals in SLU's victory over Northeastern Saturday.

7. Union (1-2-2): The Dutchmen had to be shaking their heads after a tie against UConn Friday night. Remember: Union started slow last year before going on to win the ECAC Hockey tournament.

8. Yale (1-1-0): Riding high for the first time since winning a national championship, the Bulldogs opened the season with a loss to Brown in the Liberty Hockey Invitational on Friday.

9. Dartmouth (0-2-0): The Big Green talked the talk this preseason about making the next step in ECAC Hockey, but they opened with losses to Princeton and Brown at the Liberty Hockey Invitational.

10. Harvard (1-0-1): The Crimson proved last season was an aberration when they earned a 3-3 tie against RPI Oct. 29.

11. Princeton (1-1-0): The Tigers had to be encouraged with their performance in the Liberty Hockey Invitational, where they earned an overtime victory over Dartmouth and a one-goal loss to the defending national champions in Yale.

12. Colgate (2-4-1): The Red Raiders showed some fight after falling behind St. Cloud 4-0 on Saturday, closing the gap to 4-3 before the final horn.

Twitter: @Dan_Guttenplan