Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Scouting the Enemy: UMass Minutemen

Coming off their first two conference wins, Quinnipiac now heads back into out of conference play with a home and home series with UMass Amherst that begins Friday night in Hamden and wraps up the next night up in Amherst at the Mullins Center. Quinnipiac is going to see a UMass team that turned over half the roster from a year ago. The Minutemen have 13 freshman with many of them seeing serious playing time for Greg Carvel's team as he looks to make them much more competitive than they have been in the past. They are off to a decent start this season at 5-6 with wins over Union on the road and Providence at home. With so much youth on the UMass roster, there have been good nights and some bad nights but the pieces are in place to be a very respectable team this year and pretty good in the years to come. All time Quinnipiac is 7-2-2 against the Minutemen.

UMass Key Players: Oliver Chau (F), John Leonard (F), Niko Rufo (F), Mitchell Chaffee (F), Cale Makar (D), Mario Ferraro (D), John McLaughlin (D)

The UMass offense is very young but has some intriguing talent. They only average 2.78 goals per game but 10 of the forwards who have seen a bunch of game action are either freshman or sophomores so you can expect growing pains. Four of their top five scorers are freshman with the lone senior forward being Niko Rufo (8 points). Two freshman in Oliver Chau (10 points) and Amherst native John Leonard (9 points) are the two top scorers for the Minutemen followed by Rufo. Freshman forward Mitchell Chaffee has 6 points while they are getting some contribution from two of the freshman defenseman in Cale Makar (6 points) who was the 4th overall pick by Colorado in the 2017 draft along with Mario Ferraro (5 points) who was drafted in the second round by San Jose in the same draft. UMass has a power play that has struggled to a clip of 14.29% (7-of-49) while the Quinnipiac penalty kill has improved to 80.4% (37-of-46). The Bobcats need to use their experience on defense to force the young Minutemen forwards into mistakes in order to generate turnovers which can lead to quality opportunities for Quinnipiac.

UMass has struggled on defense this season giving up 3.18 goals per game. They have some high end talent with Makar and Ferraro that can provide offense as well as be consistent on the blue line. However this defense is just so young with freshman and sophomores manning the blue line that their lack of experience is hurting them. The lone senior back there is Jake Horton while sophomores Jake McLaughlin and Josh Couturier see a lot of minutes on the blue line. While Quinnipiac hasn't been lighting up the scoreboard offensively like they have in the past they have some experience up front along with some talent to make UMass pay if it struggles on defense. The Minutemen have been average on the penalty kill at 79% (49-of-62) while Quinnipiac has seen some improvement on the power play recently outside of the Yale game at 17.50% (7-of-40).

The Minutemen have gotten really poor goal-tending from both freshman Matt Murray (3.16 GAA, .894 save %) and sophomore Ryan Wischow (3.04 GAA, .895 save %). Murray has seen the majority of the starts with 8 but Wischow has the two best wins of the season for UMass beating Union and Providence. With the way these goaltenders have both struggled they probably will each get a game in goal. Either way Quinnipiac must capitalize on how inconsistent they have been and just shoot the puck consistently

Quinnipiac needs to build off last weekend's sweep and has to come away with two victories over this holiday weekend because at this point they can not afford many more pairwise slip ups especially with a loss to RPI on the season. They need to get strong goal-tending, the defense to play well, have a strong fore-check, hunt the puck and get some timely goal scoring in order for the results to go in their direction.

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ethan de Jong signs National Letter of Intent with Quinnipiac

Ethan de Jong signing his NLI (photo by Prince George Spruce Kings)

Ethan de Jong has signed his National Letter of Intent with the Quinnipiac Bobcats men's ice hockey team. He is the fourth future commit to sign his letter of intent in November following William Fällström, Wyatt Bongiovanni and Peter Diliberatore. The 1999 born forward from North Vancouver, British Columbia is in his second full season in the British Columbia Hockey League, leads the Prince George Spruce Kings in scoring with 31 points (9 goals, 22 assists) and is tied for 5th in scoring in BCHL. He has already surpassed his production from the 2016-2017 season when he had 30 points (5 goals, 25 assists) in 43 games played.

He recently was invited to the Hockey Canada World Junior A Challenge Canada West Selection Camp from December 2nd to 5th in Calgary in order to earn a spot for the tournament that will commence December 10th to 16th in Truro, Nova Scotia. The 5'10 175 pound de Jong originally committed to Quinnipiac back on September 25th. He is projected to arrive in Hamden for 2019-2020 season. 

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

Andrew Shortridge named ECAC goaltender of the week

Andrew Shortridge vs. Yale (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

ECAC Hockey in a press release has named Andrew Shortridge as its goaltender of the week after posting back to back shutouts this past weekend against Brown and Yale. The sophomore from Anchorage, Alaska made 52 saves over two games as Quinnipiac picked up its first two conference wins of the season.

This was the third shutout of Shortridge's career as he posted a 1-0 shutout back on February 3, 2017 on the road against Brown. In 9 games played this season, Shortridge is 4-4-1 with a 1.85 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. This is the first career ECAC goaltender of the week award for Shortridge who last season won back to back ECAC rookie of the week awards for the weeks of February 28th and March 8th.

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

In the Pipeline: 11/20/17 edition

It was a good weekend to be a Bobcat as the Quinnipiac men's ice hockey team swept a weekend home slate against Brown and Yale both via shutout wins. Andrew Shortridge picked up his second and third career shutouts and the Bobcats got timely goal scoring throughout the weekend and capped the weekend winning the Heroes Hat once again with their home win over Yale. There was some future Bobcats that had a very good past week of action so without further adieu lets take a look at how the future of Quinnipiac hockey did.
Jacob Quillan, sitting bottom left (photo by John Moore)

Midget Commits

Nova Scotia 2002 born forward Jacob Quillan was named the most valuable player of the 2017 Monctonian Major Midget tournament that concluded on Sunday. Quillan scored the overtime winning goal in a 4-3 win over Halifax McDonalds. Scroll to the 3:35 minute mark of this Youtube clip for his overtime winning goal. In 6 games played between the round robin and playoff format, Quillan had 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists)

Austin Spiridakis picked up another goal this past weekend for the St Albert Tire Warehouse Raiders (AMHL) in a 3-1 win over the Calgary Royals . On the season he has 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists) in 15 games played.

USHL commits

Wyatt Bongiovanni had another 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist) in two games played for the Muskegon Lumberjacks. On the season the Michigan native has 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists) in 14 games played. He had an impressive back handed goal on Saturday in Muskegon's game against Sioux Falls. Here is the clip.

Zach Metsa had two assists this past week for the Youngstown Phantoms. The Delafield, Wisconsin native now has points in four of his last five games (1 goal, 3 assists). He is averaging over two shots per game on goal for the season has 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists) in 14 games played.

We missed this last week but Corey Clifton made his USHL debut with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. He had two assists in his first two games but was kept off the score sheet this past weekend. He had previously been with the North Jersey Avalanche U-18 team. Its unknown if Clifton will remain with Muskegon the rest of the season but he is off to a good start for the Lumberjacks.

Guus van Nes (picture via van Nes twitter)

NCDC Commits

Gus van Nes is starting to look like a nice late bloomer pickup for Quinnipiac. The Netherlands born forward has been on fire since making his commitment to Quinnipiac. This past weekend he six assists including four in Sunday's win against the New Jersey Rockets. He is on a five game point streak (3 goals, 9 assists) and for the season he has 29 points (8 goals, 21 assists) in 29 games played. van Nes will bring size and some scoring ability up front to the Bobcats next season.

AJHL Commits

Matt Cassidy continues to put up points for the Brooks Bandits in the AJHL. The Medford, New Jersey native had two more points this past weekend (1 goal, 1 assist) as Brooks split a pair of games with Canmore. In 17 games with the Bandits, Cassidy has 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists).

BCHL Commits

Ethan De Jong of the Prince George Spruce Kings has surpassed his 2016-2017 season of 30 points before Thanksgiving. He had three more assists this past weekend in two game played. He now has 31 points (9 goals, 22 assists) in 27 games played this year averaging 1.15 points per game. He had 30 points in 43 games last season.

It was another good week for 1998 forward Michael Lombardi as he had three more assists for the West Kelowna Warriors. He now has points in seven of his last eight games for West Kelowna. The first year BCHL player now has 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) in 25 games combined between the Chilliwack Chiefs and West Kelowna.

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

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Quinnipiac shuts out Yale 3-0, wins Heroes Hat

Quinnipiac vs. Yale (photo copyright BobcatHockeyBlog)
Once again the Heroes Hat is remaining in Hamden for another season. The Quinnipiac Bobcats made sure that happened with a strong defensive effort along with some timely goals to shutout the Yale Bulldogs 3-0 Saturday night at the Frank Perrotti Jr. Arena. It was a return to what Quinnipiac does well with strong defensive hockey and excellent goal-tending that help lead to a weekend sweep after back to back weekends of being swept themselves. Quinnipiac is now 9-0-1 against the Yale Bulldogs since losing the 2013 National Championship game to them in Pittsburgh.

Early on this game a defensive struggle with a lot of physical play between the two schools separated by less than 8 miles. Both teams also got strong goaltending from both Quinnipiac's Andrew Shortridge and Yale's Sam Tucker. Quinnipiac had multiple opportunities in the opening period to get on the scoreboard for multiple goals but Tucker was brick wall bringing memories back of the performance that Yale goaltender Jeff Malcolm had back in the 2013 National Championship game. The best chance in the opening frame for Quinnipiac came on a Tanner MacMaster penalty shot but he was denied by Tucker.

Quinnipiac opened the scoring 2:22 into the second period when Chase Priskie fed Brogan Rafferty at the point where his bomb made it through traffic and a screened Sam Tucker for the goal. The Bobcats continued to pound Tucker in the second putting 19 shots on goal. With a power play that has been improving, Quinnipiac had six power play opportunities through two periods but didn't convert a single one.
Quinnipiac vs. Yale (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)
Quinnipiac's defining moment of the game wasn't any goal but the 5 minute major penalty that they killed off when Tanner MacMaster took a slew footing penalty and was ejected from the game. It was an impressive stand as prior to the 5 minute penalty Quinnipiac had killed off two consecutive Yale power plays making the Bobcats having to kill off almost half the period via the penalty kill without even having to use their timeout. With momentum shifting back to Quinnipiac they scored an insurance goal on a redirect goal by Craig Martin off Kevin McKernan's initial shot at almost the 15 minute mark of the third period. Freshman Devin Moore picked up his first collegiate point with a secondary assist on the goal. Not even a minute later Quinnipiac put the game on ice when Thomas Aldworth blew past a Yale defenseman finishing cleanly past Tucker for his first goal of the season officially making sure the Heroes Hat remained in Hamden for another season.

Andrew Shortridge continued with his strong play with 30 saves for his second consecutive shutout and third of his career. The teams combined for 16 penalties in a very chippy game. Quinnipiac now heads into the Thanksgiving holiday on a positive note winning two straight conference games to improve to 5-5-1 overall (2-4 ECAC). The Bobcats next play UMass Amhert in a home and home series next Friday and Saturday night with the first leg of the series in Hamden followed by a short I-91 trip up to Amherst the next night.

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

Scouting the Enemy: Yale Bulldogs

Quinnipiac got back into the win column with their first conference win of the season in a 5-0 win Friday night against the Brown Bears. Now comes the Heroes Hat game against their Whitney Avenue rival, the Yale Bulldogs who are 3-4 on the season. Quinnipiac moved up to 11th place in the ECAC with its win Friday night. The hope is that the Bobcats can build off of what they accomplished against Brown and use to going into the Yale game and beyond. With students on Thanksgiving break it might not have the buzz of previous past Yale games due to the holiday break and for the fact that both teams are having poor starts the season. It is still an important game and one that Quinnipiac always circles on its calendar. 

Yale Key Players: Joe Snively (F), Dante Palecco (F), Ryan Hitchcock (F), Mitchell Smith (F), Evan Smith (F), Ted Hart (F), Billy Sweezey (D), Phil Kemp (D), Sam Tucker (D)

The Yale offense has been Jekyll and Hyde so far this season looking great in three wins but non existent in three losses this season until Friday's night 5-4 loss to Princeton. Averaging 3.29 goals per game they are led by junior Joe Snively who is off to a hot start with 5 goals in seven games and senior Ryan Hitchcock who has 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists). Freshman Dante Palecco has begun his collegiate career strong with 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists) in 7 games while the Smith twins of Evan and Mitchell have 5 points apiece. Junior Ted Hart and Yale's lone forward draft pick Luke Stevens are both off to slow starts with 3 points apiece. The Yale power play has been by far the worst in the country this season at 5.88% (2-of-34) while the Quinnipiac penalty kill is starting to show improvement at 78% (32-of-41) along with going 4 for 4 against Brown on Friday night. The key for Quinnipiac is shutting down the Snively-Hitchcock-Palecco line as they have been Yale's three best players this season. Having the last change against those three will give the Quinnipiac coaching staff the ability to match up defensively against that line in critical situations and defensive zone draws.

Yale's defense also has been a bit Jekyll and Hyde this season as it has struggled in its losses giving up 16 goals. For the season they are giving up 3 goals per game. The Bulldogs have some really solid players on the blue line in freshman Phil Kemp (3 points, plus 5) and sophomore Billy Sweezey (5 assists, plus 1). Anthony Walsh (plus 4) and Adam Larkin (plus 3) have also looked solid at times on the blue line. They have definitely improved from where they were a season ago when they vastly struggled on the blue line. How far they will go will rest on if the defense can play a lot better than it has so far this season but the talent is there for improvement. Yale's penalty kill is a shade better than Quinnipiac's at 78.8% (26-of-33) while Quinnipiac power play has seen much improvement up to 21.21% (7-of-33).

Junior goaltender Sam Tucker has a sub .900 save percentage at .896 in 7 games played with a 2.74 goals against average. His best game was a 5-2 win over Harvard and he also beat both Brown and St. Lawrence. He has struggled in back to back games giving up 9 goals in total to Clarkson and Princeton though both of those teams have some of the best offensive talent in the ECAC this season. We will see if Quinnipiac can translate last's nights offensive success into a big night against Tucker.

A win over Yale will give the Quinnipiac some solid confidence as they head into Thanksgiving along with heading back into non conference play with a home and home series with UMass Amherst next weekend.

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

Friday, November 17, 2017

What can Brown do for you? A 5-0 Quinnipiac win

BobcatsHockeyBlog stock photo
Five games into their ECAC slate, the Quinnipiac Bobcats have recorded their first conference win with a resounding 5-0 win over the Brown Bears. Coming off back to back weekends of being swept in conference play, Quinnipiac was in desperate need of a victory. It was a good night for Quinnipiac to bring out the UPS slogan "What can Brown do for you" because that is exactly what happened tonight as the Bobcats got in the win column and looked strong in doing so. They moved the puck well with crisp passes, good forecheck and and all around solid game from their defense and goaltending.

It was the Landon Smith show tonight for Quinnipiac as he scored a natural hat trick scoring the teams first three goals of the game. His first came just over 12 minutes into the first period on the power play when he scored off a rebound from John Furgele's initial shot. Less than two minutes later Smith again found the back of the net when he redirected Brogan Rafferty's shot past Luke Kania.

Landon Smith found the back of the net for a third time just 2:27 into the second period when Smith cleaned up yet another rebound this time off the stick of Tanner MacMaster whose initial shot was saved by Kania. Quinnipiac scored a second power play goal when Bo Pieper fed Chase Priskie in the slot where he ripped a wrist shot home past Kania. Quinnipiac capped the scoring on the night when Landon Smith skated the puck freely into the zone before finding Tanner MacMaster on the doorstep where he put it home for the goal.

Quinnipiac out shot Brown 36-22 for the game. Four players has multi point games led by Smith (3 goals, 1 assist), Chase Priskie (1 goal, 1 assist), Tanner MacMaster (1 goal, 1 assist) and Odeen Tufto (2 assists). Quinnipiac finished a strong night on special teams going 50% (2-of-4) on the power play and finishing 100% on the penalty kill (4 for 4). Andrew Shortridge made 22 saves for his second career shutout. This is a step in the right direction for the Bobcats as they now turn there attend to the Yale Bulldogs tomorrow night for the annual Heroes Hat game.

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