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January 25, 2013

Brown Brings Energy

That Patrick Brown is playing center for the BC hockey team is about as surprising as having another Bush in the White House or another Kennedy in Congress. You could say that it is in the genes.

Remember his father Doug, twice an All-American who scored 37 goals for BC in 1984-85 and then went on to 15 years in the NHL? Or how about Doug's younger brother Greg, now an associate head coach for the Eagles, twice an All-American himself, twice player-of-the-year in Hockey East and four years in the NHL on his resume'? Was there ever any doubt that Patrick Brown, now a junior, would follow those footsteps and play for Boston College?

"I think I have a BC sweatshirt in every size at home in Michigan," he admitted with a smile. "Both of my parents went to BC, my older sister is here and my younger sister is a freshman here. I have always dreamed of coming to BC. My parents sort of bred it into our family."

So, after he decided to go to college directly from high school instead of taking a year in juniors, Brown considered overtures from Miami and Harvard. But then an offer came from BC (coach Mike Cavanaugh had seen a couple of his high school games) and "of course BC was where I really wanted to go," he said.

"It was a big jump coming straight from high school, but I thought it would be best if I came right here," he said. "I knew a lot of the guys from recruiting visits and I got to see the team when the Frozen Four was in Detroit. It was unbelievable watching them win that."

Right from the start it was obvious that this Brown's success at BC would be as a role player, unlike his superstar relatives. He played 29 games as a freshman, with just one assist. As a sophomore he scored the team's first goal of the season, but that was it for the year. This year he has two goals, including the game winner late in the third period against UMass back on November 4.

But, despite the lack of scoring, Brown has become a fan favorite as he has found his role on the team with his hard-nosed effort. He has good straight-ahead speed and tends to bang into opposing players, whether he meant to or not.

"I'm the 'energy' guy." he said. "I try to get the guys going. I try to give everything I have on every shift. I try to finish my checks and get the puck to the net. Hopefully the other guys feed off it. I just love going out there and hitting guys. Whenever anyone on the team makes a big hit the whole bench stands up and it energizes us and gets us going. Seeing one of your teammates working hard makes everyone want to work hard and give it all we've got."

As for the current malaise that his team is going through, Brown expects things to pick up for the Eagles, sort of like last year when a pair of games again Maine were the turning point from which his team never looked back.

"We've had our ups and downs," Brown said. "I think this happens to any team. It's hard to maintain that peak energy for six straight months. We have had some injuries, but that is all a part of hockey. You have to deal with it. You have to come to the rink every day with the expectation that you will get better. We all feed off coach York's enthusiasm. He comes to the rink every day and he's the most excited guy in the locker room. He gets everyone else so excited.

"I think we showed out true colors last weekend (against Northeastern.) We excelled offensively and defensively and Parker (goalie Milner) was outstanding. We got scoring from everywhere in the lineup. I think we are back on the upwards climb. I think we can go on from here."

Brown says having an NHL player as a father was very helpful. "It was like having a teacher at home. After every practice and after every game he wanted to be sure that I gave my all. It was always about what you were feeling and what did you do better today. I still call him after every practice and every game."

And, how about being coached by you uncle? "He's a great coach, whether he's my uncle or not" Brown said. "He thinks a lot different than my dad. Greg was more of a finesse, skilled player than my dad. My Dad was a fast, hard working grinder. On the ice and in the locker I'm just another guy and he is "coach." But, at Thanksgiving, he's Uncle Greg again."

In a picture, son Patrick and father Doug are almost identical, but in person Patrick is three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than his father. Another aside to his pedigree, however, comes from his mother's side of the family. Patrick is one of 42 grandchildren of the late Wellington Mara (and great grandson of Tim Mara), noted names in NFL history as the founding family of the New York Giants. Patrick did not say whether he is a Giants fan, Patriots fan or a Detroit Lions fan (Michigan native.)

He did say that he is a good student (Hockey East All-Academic team twice so far) because "my parents really stressed that." He has chosen economics as his major, after briefly considering sciences or math. He won't predict the course of the economy just yet, he says. "I just don't know enough about it yet."

York is back: Patch Alber is out for the season with a knee injury and Mike Matheson is sidelined with an upper-body injury, but the most significant injury of the season so far might be Jerry York's detached retina. The team went 2-2 in his absence. "I am not skating with the team yet," York said Wednesday as he pedaled an exercise bike deep in the Conte Forum. "I have to avoid getting bumped or shaken, and that does happen on the ice." But, he will be behind the bench Friday night. "The doctors say that if this had happened to me 20 years ago I might have lost sight in that eye."

DefenseWith Mike Matheson sidelined for at least the Maine weekend, the defense corps is down to five healthy bodies. There is no indication yet whether York will go with the five through the weekend or use winger Brooks Dyroff as the sixth. Travis Jeke has been impressive now that he is getting ice time. He is a very confident kid. Colin Sullivan, meanwhile, was benched last Friday night as a learning experience and will obviously have to regain his coach's confidence. Fortunately the next three games are against the two bottom teams in the league and then a slumping Harvard bunch in the Beanpot opener. The team may be able to get through this stretch with a thin defensive corps.

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