Five years ago, Bob Gaudet entered his first season as coach of the hapless Brown Bears.
That depressing year, the Brown men's hockey program had just one victory and set a collegiate record with a 25-game losing streak.
Ever since, Gaudet has been quietly working hard to rebuild his name. This year, Providence is looking to find out how Gaudet has done.
When it ventures to Meehan Auditorium tonight, the Harvard men's hockey team will be stepping into a lair that includes the seniors who made up Gaudet's first recruiting class.
While Brown has improved its showing from year to year--including winning the Ivy title in 1991--the Bears are hoping this season will mark their entry into college hockey's elite.
"It's night and day from when I started here," Gaudet said. "We want to make a big step this year. We want to take a legitimate step up to the next level."
People are, apparently, listening to the Providential rhetoric. "I think they're going to be awfully tough," Harvard Coach Ronn Tomassoni said. "They're one team that'll be vying to be a host team in the playoffs [one of the ECAC's top four]."
The unofficial Brown goal is to get to the ECAC tournament. In the last three years, the Bears have been eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Against Harvard, Gaudet said his team will keep a close watch on former Olympian and current captain, Ted Drury.
"We'll keep our eye out for him," Gaudet said. "But there's no one to really key on because they've got 12 explosive forwards."
Brown expects to power its attack with an explosive senior line of its own, including its three top returning scorers.
The trio is led by Rhode Island's own Derek Chauvette, who last year took the Ivy League scoring title and won First Team All-Ivy and Second Team ECAC honors.
Mike Ross and Scott Hanley round out the line, which accounted for a third of the whole team's goals last year.
Brown also has a wildcard in freshman Ryan Mulhern, a classmate of Harvard's Tom Holmes at Canterbury last year. The Calgary Flame draft pick led the New England Prep School League in scoring last year.
While balanced, Brown's defense will be suffering with the graduation of First Team All-American Mike Brewer. The Bears will look to senior defenders Tim Chase and hard-hitting Jamie O'Brien to buffer the loss. Chase, a Montreal Canadiens draft pick, led the team in goals with 19 last year.