Friday, March 24, 2017

Tommy Schutt signs with ECHL Manchester Monarchs

Tommy Schutt battling in 2016 Frozen Four (photo by Kim Klement/USA Today)
Senior forward Tommy Schutt has signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL as was announced by the organization in a press release. Schutt, an associate captain this past season for the Bobcats had the best season of his four year career with 14 points (6 goals 8 assists) in 40 games played. In four years with Quinnipiac, Schutt played in 158 games and scoring 41 points (18 goals and 23 assists). Schutt does a lot of the little things that Rand Pecknold stresses in his players like winning face-offs and blocking shots and that is something that he excelled at during his time at Quinnipiac. He was 6th on the team with 36 blocked shots which was 3rd among Quinnipiac forwards.

A native of Chanhassen, Minnnesota, Schutt came to Quinnipiac by way of the Lincoln Stars (USHL) where he played two seasons. He played in the NCAA tournament in three of his four seasons with Quinnipiac and was part of two ECAC regular season championships (2015, 2016), one ECAC tournament championship (2016) and was part of the Quinnipiac team that was the 2016 National Runner-Up. He was also part of a senior class that won 102 games, which stood third behind North Dakota's 109 wins and Denver's 105 wins. Congrats to Tommy on this great accomplishment and the BobcatsHockeyBlog wishes you nothing but success in your career.

Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow him on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Quinnipiac recruiting notes 3/20/17

The Quinnipiac Bobcats men's ice hockey season came to an end this past Friday with a loss in the ECAC semifinals to Harvard University. While it is disappointing that the program did not reach the NCAA tournament for a fifth consecutive season, the team gave everything they had against the Harvard Crimson, a team that has been one of the best teams in the country this season and is a number one seed in the NCAA tournament for a reason with a good chance at winning the National Championship. The coaching staff led by Rand Pecknold and his associate coaches Bill Riga and Joe Dumais did a great job leading this team to 23 wins with the amount of injuries they had at times and the lack of overall depth on the roster. They have a good nucleus of players returning along with a very solid incoming recruiting class that has the potential for some immediate impact. While the college season is over for Quinnipiac, it doesn't mean the hockey season is over as many junior programs are still going on so we will continue to do the recruiting notes until season concludes. Let's take a look at how some of the future Bobcats did over the past week.
Nick Kent (photo by Delta Hockey Academy)
Delta Hockey Academy Elite 15 2001 defenseman Nick Kent had a great week. Not only was he selected to take part in the USA Hockey NTDP Evaluation Camp, he had the best three game stretch of his season in the playoffs for Delta. In three round robin playoff games, Kent was tied for the team lead in playoff scoring with six points (2 goals and 4 assists). While Delta did not advance past the round robin stage of the playoffs, Kent's play should give him some good momentum heading into the evaluation camp this week with a shot at winning a spot on the Under-17 team for next season. Best of luck to Nick this week.

Also joining Nick at the evaluation camp is fellow 2001 defenseman Dom Fensore. I talked a lot more about both of them last week in this piece. I also wish Dom the best of luck this week as he also looks to win a spot on the Under-17 team for next season.
Odeen Tufto (photo by Dan Hickling)
1997 forward Odeen Tufto had a three point game Saturday for the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) in an 8-1 win over Team USA. Tufto had a two goals and an assist in the win. It's the third three point game of the season for him along with his tenth multi-point game. The Chaska, Minnesota native has 40 points (13 goals and 27 assists) in 52 games played for the USHL Western Conference leaders. Tufto's 27 assists tie him for 8th in the USHL in that category. Hockey scout Kirk Luedeke took in the Sioux City game and had this to say to me about Tufto after his three point performance. "Quick little slashing skater. Goal lucky- sharp angle & billiard shot but little buzz saw type. Will be good NCAA player".

Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) 1999 goaltender Keith Petruzzelli picked up his 19th win of the season as he continues to lead all rookie USHL goaltenders in that category. Petruzzelli made 18 saves in a 9-1 Lumberjacks win over the Tri-City Storm on Friday. Petruzzelli, the top ranked North American goaltender in the NHL Central Scouting Rankings is 19-10 with a 2.43 goals against average and a .910 save percentage with two shutouts this season for Muskegon which is second in the USHL Eastern Conference in the standings.

1999 forward Matt Cassidy of the Springfield Jr. Blues (NAHL) had a three point weekend with a goal and two assists. His goal and assist game on Friday was his ninth multi-point game of the season. In 49 games played, Cassidy has 33 points (12 goals and 21 assists).

Sources with the BobcatsHockeyBlog confirm Michael Lombardi, a 1998 forward who played this season with New England Prep Champion Kimball Union Academy has signed to play the 2017-18 season with the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL. This is a good landing spot for Lombardi, who has the talent to flourish in the BCHL and continue his development. He scored 51 points (19 goals and 32 assists) in 39 games played for Kimball Union this season.

With Lombardi finding a home expect other prep and high school players to find a home soon for next season. 1999 forward Matt Fawcett's rights are held by the Sioux City Musketeers so he could land there next season as he already played a couple games with them already this year as an affiliate player. Two North Jersey Avalanche players also will have new teams next season. 1999 goaltender Justin Robbins possibly could land with the Chicago Steel as he was on the teams protected list this season and saw action in one game for the Steel this year. 1999 forward Corey Clifton's next location is unknown at this time, though could be a good fit with a team in the BCHL.

1996 forward Dan Nybondas committed last week and I highlighted him in this piece. Nybondas commitment likely concludes the 2017 incoming class. Playing for the HIFK U-20 team in the Jr. A SM-liiga, Nybondas has 32 points (14 goals and 18 assists) in 48 games played. His playoff statistics are not none at this time.  He is playing on an olympic sheet of ice in Finland as well so he will have to make the transition to the smaller size rinks that are used in the United States. Quinnipiac found him via word of mouth with a coaching staff member traveling to Finland to see him. The hope is that this will lead to Quinnipiac building relationships with the Jr. A teams in Finland where the Bobcats can secure talented Finnish players before they come over to the United States to play junior hockey. Maybe this will help the Bobcats find their own version of Eeli Tolvanen a top Finnish prospect committed to Boston College and playing in the USHL who is expected to be a first round pick in this June's NHL entry draft.

Four commits are currently playing in the playoffs with their respective junior or midget clubs. 1998 defenseman Zach Metsa of the Merritt Centennials is in the second round of the BCHL playoffs. He has one assist in six playoffs games. 1996 defenseman and Hamden native Joe O'Connor is playing the Brooks Bandits in the second round of the AJHL playoffs. Brooks is the odds on favorite to win the AJHL championship as they are loaded with 10 NCAA commits. O'Connor has two assists in two playoff games as Brooks had a bye in the first round. 1997 forward Devin Moore is playing for the Brockville Braves in the first round of the CCHL playoffs. In three playoff games, he has one assist as his team trails two games to one. 2002 forward Jacob Quillan is playing in the NSMMHL best-of-5 finals starting tomorrow against the Cape Breton West Islanders. Quillan has 7 points (1 goal and 6 assists) in 8 games played, highlighted by his overtime winner in Game 2 of the semifinals against Halifax McDonalds. Here is the video of his overtime winner.

One other note of importance is 1998 forward Khristain Acosta who is currently playing for the Sioux Falls Stampede is no longer committed to the program.

Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow him on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Quinnipiac 2017-2018 non conference opponents released

High Point Solutions Arena (home of the Quinnipiac Bobcats)
Chip Malafronte of the New Haven Register is reporting that the Quinnipiac Men's Ice Hockey 2017-2018 non conference schedule has been announced. Once again for next season, there is a lot of Hockey East flavor. The opponents for next season are the same as they were this season with some location changes.

The Bobcats will welcome the Maine Black Bears for two home games along with single home games against Boston University, UMass Amherst and Vermont. Quinnipiac is slated to play Boston University in the next two seasons with a return trip to Agganis Arena in the 2018-2019 season. Quinnipiac played both UMass and Vermont this past season the latter in the Friendship Four Championship in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With Vermont coming to Hamden in 2017-2018, it would surprise me if the Bobcats returned to favor the following year and played on the road against Vermont in Burlington.

On the road the Bobcats will head out to the desert for the first time and face Arizona State for two games, a team that split with Quinnipiac in Hamden this past season. Quinnipiac will also head to historic Matthews Arena in Boston to face Northeastern for two games along with single road games to Boston College, UMass Amherst and UConn. With Quinnipiac also playing a road league game against Harvard, they will play four games in the Boston market next season giving alumni in the area a good chance to see the team multiple times. 

Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern and Vermont have the best chance for Quinnipiac at helping in the pairwise next season based on how the teams fared this season. UMass Amherst should also see improvement with the talented recruiting class they are bringing in next season along with surefire top ten draft pick Cale Makar headlining the UMass recruiting class.

Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow him on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tim Clifton signs with San Jose Sharks

Tim Clifton (photo by the Tampa Bay Times)
Quinnipiac senior forward Tim Clifton has a signed a two-year, two-way free agent contract with the National Hockey League San Jose Sharks. The signing was first reported by Frank Servalli of TSN. The Matawan, New Jersey native was an alternate captain this season for the Bobcats and finished 4th for Quinnipiac in scoring with 25 points (13 goals and 12 assists) in 39 games played. Clifton, had a breakout junior season in which he scored 43 points (19 goals and 24 assists) in 39 games and was a coveted free agent last season but returned for his senior season with brother Connor to finish up his degree. In 155 games played for Quinnipiac, Clifton had 95 points (44 goals and 51 assists) and help build a culture of winning in Hamden in his four years with the program. It is not not known at this time if Clifton will report directly to the Sharks or their top American Hockey League affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda. Congrats to Tim and his family on this great accomplishment.

Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow him on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.



Friday, March 17, 2017

Quinnipiac season concludes with 4-1 loss to Harvard

Quinnipiac vs. Harvard (photo by BobcatsHockeyBlog.com)
In the home of the most famous upset in sports history, the Quinnipiac Bobcats fell behind in the third period 3-1 with 16 minutes left to play seeking some of the 1980 US Men's Olympic Hockey Team magic. There would be no magic tonight in the house of the "Miracle on Ice" as the Bobcats ECAC Tournament run to Lake Placid and its 2016-2017 season has come to a conclusion. Needing to win out this weekend to reach its fifth consecutive NCAA tournament, Quinnipiac couldn't keep Harvard's top ranked offense at bay.

The two teams came out skating well and feeling it each out for the better part of the first period. Andrew Shortridge made two big saves early, but gave up big rebounds on both that the Bobcats were able to clear. Midway through the period, Harvard had a flurry of chances and spent a good minute to a minute and half in the Bobcat zone peppering multiple shots on Shortridge before Quinnipiac was able to clear the zone. Quinnipiac finished the period strong putting a few real good chances on Merrick Madsen who stood tall. Harvard out shot Quinnipiac 13-6 in the opening frame with Andrew Shortridge playing a key role in why the game remained scoreless.

Harvard continued to pepper Shortridge in goal in the second period but it wasn't until Michael Floodstrand stole the puck in a battle against Bo Pieper on the board after which he brought down into the zone where he fed Sean Malone in the low slot who buried a wrist shot past Shortridge. Quinnipiac answered a little more than five minutes later after Harvard's Jake Horton took a hooking call giving Quinnipiac its second power play of the game. Thomas Aldworth took a pass down low from Derek Smith where he snuck one past Madsen for the goal. Luke Shiplo also picked up an assist on the goal. Harvard would respond two minutes later when Sean Malone put home a rebound off of Nathan Krusko's shot. It was the third game in the last four where the Bobcats gave up a goal in the final minutes of a period.
Quinnipiac vs. Harvard (photo by BobcatsHockeyBlog.com)
In the third period it was the hottest player in the ECAC tournament finding the back of the net again as Sean Malone made a nifty back hand shot past Shortridge for the hat trick to extend the Harvard lead to 3-1. It was the 4th goal of the tournament for Malone and 9th point in total in the last three tournament games. Quinnipiac had a few power play chances in the middle of the period but couldn't muster a goal past Madsen. Luke Esposito put the game on ice with an empty net goal to end the season earlier than Bobcat fans have been accustomed to seeing. Andrew Shortridge made 32 saves in the loss and kept Quinnipiac in the game closer than it could have been with some strong saves at key times. Quinnipiac just couldn't get the breaks it needed or cook up enough offense against a Harvard team that might be the school's best since the 1989 national championship team.

While Quinnipiac's season is over, Harvard will head to ECAC championship where they will face rival Cornell for the Whitelaw Cup. The Quinnipiac 2017 senior class of Connor and Tim Clifton, Derek Smith, K.J. Tiefenwerth, Tommy Schutt and Joe Fiala completed their careers with 102 wins, 2 Cleary Cup Championships, a Whitelaw Cup Championship, 3 NCAA tournament berths and was the 2016 National Runner-up. These six players will be missed and we thank them for their contributions to the Quinnipiac hockey program and to the university community as well.

Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow him on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Playoff Preview: Quinnipiac Bobcats vs. Harvard Crimson

1980 Rink at Herb Brooks Arena, home of the ECAC Championship
For the fifth consecutive season, the No. 19 Quinnipiac Bobcats men's ice hockey team will play in the ECAC Final Four. It was one season ago that the Bobcats broke through and won the program's first ever Whitelaw Cup as the champions of the ECAC tournament. In the semifinals, Quinnipiac faces the No. 2/2 Harvard Crimson a team that the Bobcats split with this season and faced in Lake Placid the past two seasons. This is the rubber match of the regular season and the last two postseasons with a trip to the ECAC finals on the line. Quinnipiac won the first meeting 4-2 but the game was heavily dominated by Harvard who controlled the play for the majority of the game. Harvard took the second game 5-2, but it was a 1-1 score in the second period when the wheels came apart when Harvard scored three consecutive goals in a minute time frame which led to the ejection of head coach Rand Pecknold by ECAC referee Chip McDonald. Junior goaltender Chris Truehl started both Harvard games but was pulled in the second period of the loss to Harvard and replaced by Andrew Shortridge who proceeded to make all 12 saves the rest of the way. All-time, Quinnipiac is 13-12-4 against Harvard. While Harvard is a lock to reach the NCAA tournament and a possible favorite to reach the Frozen Four in Chicago, Quinnipiac will have to win the ECAC tournament if it wants to make the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive season.

Tale of the Tape:

#5 Quinnipiac Bobcats 23-14-2 (13-8-1 ECAC)
3.08 Goals scored per game (22nd nationally)
2.49 Goals allowed per game (17th nationally)
18.10% Power Play (33rd nationally)
85.6% Penalty Kill (Tied 9th nationally with Lowell & Sacred Heart)
Cleary Cup Championships: (3) 2016, 2015, 2013
Whitelaw Cup Championships: (1) 2016
NCAA Tournament Appearances: (5) 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2002
NCAA Frozen Four Appearances: (2) 2016, 2013

#1 Harvard Crimson 24-5-2 (16-4-2 ECAC)
4.23 Goals scored per game (1st nationally)
2.29 Goals allowed per game (11th nationally)
26.03% Power Play (4th nationally)
82.6% Penalty Kill (33rd nationally)
Cleary Cup Championships: (11) 2017, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1975, 1973, 1963
Whitelaw Cup Championships: (9) 2015, 2006, 2004, 2002, 1994, 1987, 1983, 1971, 1963
NCAA Tournament Appearances: (23) 2016, 2015, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 1994, 1993, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1983, 1982, 1975, 1974, 1971, 1969, 1958, 1957, 1955
NCAA Frozen Four Appearances: (12) 1994, 1989, 1987, 1986, 1983, 1975, 1974, 1971, 1969, 1958, 1957, 1955
NCAA National Championships: (1) 1989

Key Players:

Quinnipiac: F Landon Smith (29 points), F Craig Martin (27 points), D Chase Priskie (26 points), F Tim Clifton (25 points), D Brogan Rafferty (24 points), F Bo Pieper (24 points), D Kārlis Čukste (15 points), D Connor Clifton (13 points), F Alex Whelan (10 points), G Andrew Shortridge 13-6, 2.03 GAA

Harvard: F Alexander Kerfoot (40 points), F Tyler Moy (39 points), F Sean Malone (38 points), F Ryan Donato (36 points), D Adam Fox (34 points), F Luke Esposito (33 points), F Lewis Zerter-Gossage (24 points), F Nathan Krusko (16 points), D John Marino (12 points), G Merrimack Madsen 24-5-2, 2.26 GAA

Playoff History:

2016 ECAC Finals -Quinnipiac wins 4-1
2015 ECAC Semifinals - Harvard wins 5-2
2008 ECAC Quarterfinals - Harvard wins series 2-1 (0-11, 7-4, 1-3)

The Skinny:

Quinnipiac comes into this game having swept Brown in the ECAC first round and most recently won a hard fought road quarterfinal series in three games against St. Lawrence. They are 10-4 in their last 14 games and have some momentum coming into Lake Placid fresh off a road playoff series win for the first time in ten years. Quinnipiac has gotten outstanding goaltending from Andrew Shortridge who in his last 20 appearances has a 1.79 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. He has been money for Quinnipiac down the stretch as they have started to turn it on. The Bobcats have also started to score down the stretch at a tune of 3.875 goals per game in their last eight games. The Bobcat defense in that same stretch of games is giving up 1.75 goals per game. While scoring goals is the nature of the game, I am not sure you want to get into a shootout with Harvard as that plays right into what they want to do. Quinnipiac needs to slow the pace of this game down and play it on their terms with being physical, blocking shots, stay out of the penalty box, and doing the little things that Rand Pecknold always stresses.

Harvard might be the hottest team in the country outside of Denver, having gone 13-0-1 in their last 14 games and winning 12 straight games. They have won the Beanpot Championship, the Ivy League Championship and sharted the Cleary Cup Championship with Union. This is by far the most talented team top to bottom in the ECAC and they have played like it for pretty much the entire season. Boosted with the top scoring offense in the country and an excellent power play, Harvard can be unstoppable at times. No lead is safe against the Crimson. Just ask Yale who coughed up leads in both games against Harvard in last weekends quarterfinal series. They have a slew of talented forwards that know how to create offense and put the puck in the net. The key to Harvard this year has been their ability to play much better defense along with an improved transition game and that is due in part to freshman Adam Fox and John Marino having outstanding seasons for the Crimson. While they are average on the penalty kill they do lead the country with 12 short-handed goals so that is something to watch out for. Goaltender Merrick Madsen has been strong this season with a 24-5-2 record with a 2.26 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. He did look a bit shaky in net against Yale last weekend and in Harvard's first game against Quinnipiac this season in Hamden. If he is not on top of his game, it gives Quinnipiac an opportunity for an opening to win this game.

The Prediction:

I struggled with this prediction as my heart is obviously in the direction of Quinnipiac but my head says Harvard. Quinnipiac had to scratch and claw their way to a series win against a St. Lawrence team that struggles to score at times while Harvard struggled a bit against Yale and yet still scored ten goals in two games. For Quinnipiac to win they are going to need contributions from everyone, key breaks, and for Shortridge to be a rock in between the pipes. Harvard has been the most consistent team in the ECAC and possibly the country this season and is primed to win Harvard's first national championship since 1989. I think Quinnipiac is going to play this game with nothing to lose, give everything they have, and will hold Harvard to two goals in regulation but comes up short in heartbreaking fashion as Harvard has too many skill players to account for.

Harvard wins 3-2 in overtime

Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow him on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dan Nybondas commits to Quinnipiac

Dan Nybondas (photo by HIFK)
The Quinnipiac Bobcats have dipped into the Finnish junior hockey league for a recruit for the 2017-2018 season. A source has confirmed to the BobcatsHockeyBlog that HIFK Helenski U20 forward Dan Nybondas has verbally committed to Quinnipiac. Nybondas is a 6'6, 194 pound 1996 born forward playing in the Jr. A SM-liiga in Finland. This season in 48 games played for HIFK, Nybondas has 32 points (14 goals and 18 assists). That is good for third on the team in scoring. Nybondas will be the second European player on the Quinnipiac roster with defenseman Kārlis Čukste out of Latvia. This commitment might also open the door for future Finnish players to play for the Quinnipiac program.

Not much is known about Nybondas at this time, but the website Finnish Junior Hockey who covers the U20 league gave this scouting report to me about him.

@FINjrhockey
"He has a good shot and scoring touch, can drive the net and has decent hands and skating ability. At times have seen some nice flashes of skill. Based on my viewings this season he might be more of a 3rd line center."

With Nybondas coming in as a 21 year old freshman in the fall, Quinnipiac might have upwards of 12 incoming new players with seven of them being forwards, two freshman defenseman and a goaltender along with the two transfers that will become eligible in Brandon Fortunato and John Furgele.  

Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow him on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.