Monday, February 19, 2018

In the Pipeline: 2/19/2018

Quinnipiac wrapped up its regular season home slate with a split of the weekend. They lost on Friday to Union 5-2 before rebounding with a 4-1 win on Saturday night against RPI in what could be the team's final home game of the regular season. Currently in the 9th spot in the ECAC standings, Quinnipiac would play a road first round playoff series for the first time since the 2006 season which was the Bobcats first in the ECAC. Quinnipiac needs to win and get some help if it wants to return home for a playoff series on York Hill. Tiebreakers could come into factor in the final weekend with so many teams bunched up in the middle. Quinnipiac is on to North Country for games against St. Lawrence and Clarkson to wrap up the regular season. In one week we will know where the Bobcats are heading for the playoffs but for now lets take a look at how some of the future Bobcats did this past week.

T.J. Friedmann, photo by Darren Stone, Times Colonist

BCHL Commits

Ethan De Jong had two more assists in three games this past week for the Prince George Spruce Kings. In 49 games played on the season he has 62 points (17 goals, 45 assists). He is currently 5th in scoring in the BCHL and averaging 1.27 points per game.

T.J. Friedmann had 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in three games played for the Victoria Grizzlies. The St. Louis, Missouri native has had points in 11 of his last 12 games. On the season in 56 games played he has 54 points (21 goals, 33 assists).

Desi Burgart of the Surrey Eagles had two points this past week (1 goal, 1 assist) in three games played for the Surrey Eagles. In 50 games played he has 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists).

National Developmental Program

Dom Fensore was part of the 2017 U-17 5 Nation Tournament Champions. In four games played with the United States going undefeated Fensore had a goal and three assists. It's the third tournament win for the U-17's this season following the World Hockey Challenge in Canada and another tournament Russia.

USHL commits

William Fallstrom had one assist this week for the Fargo Force in two games played. In 41 games, the Sweden native has 27 points (8 goals, 19 assists).

Zach Metsa picked up two assists in three games played for the Central Illinois Flying Aces. In 43 games played between Central Illinois and Youngstown, Metsa has 15 points (1 goal, 14 assists).

Justin Robbins made 26 saves in a 3-2 loss for the Chicago Steel to the Des Moines Buccaneers. On the season he is 4-4 with a 4.04 goals against average and an .869 save percentage in 12 games played.

AJHL commits

Matt Cassidy had a goal and an assists for the Brooks Bandits in three games played over the past week. On the season, Cassidy has 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 46 games played.

Prep Schools/High Schools

Matthew Fawcett had another very good week for the Winchendon School. In two games played he had 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists). He is now second in scoring with 66 points (27 goals, 39 assists) behind Thayer Academy's Jay O'Brien (Providence commit) who has been the best player all season in New England Prep School hockey.

Salisbury defenseman Peter Dilberatore has a goal and an assist this past week. He has 15 points (3 goals, 12 assists) on one of the top prep teams in New England that has only lost one game this season and is expected to be one of the favorites for the New England Prep School elite title. The Nova Scotian native is expected to be a 2018 NHL draft this June.

John Campomenosi of Don Bosco Prep had two goals and one assist in two games played this week. He has 23 points (7 goals, 16 assists) for a Don Bosco team that is 24-1-1 this season.

P.J Fletcher (photo by the South Kent School)

Midget Commits

Victor Czerneckianair had one goal this past weekend for the U-15 Selects team at South Kent. In 49 games played this season he had 67 points (30 goals, 37 assists). The Southington, CT native is 3rd on the team in scoring and a possible tryout candidate for the NDTP program.

Ethan Phillips and P.J Fletcher both helped the South Kent Selects U-16 team to two blowout wins in the USPHL playoffs outscoring their opponents 20-2. Phillips had two goals and two assists while Fletcher had three goals and two assists.

Jack Silich had one assist this weekend for the Chicago Mission in three games played. On the season he has 82 points (30 goals, 52 assists).

Austin Spiridakis had a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win for the St. Albert Tire Warehouse Raiders. He finished the season with 16 points (7 goals, 9 assists) as now he heads to the playoffs. He also got a call-up for the Drumheller Dragons in the AJHL on Friday night.

Jacob Quillan finished the regular season for the Steele Subaru Major Midgets with 44 points (14 goals, 30 assists) in 35 games played. His team is in the playoffs right now and in two playoff games he has 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists).

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Quinnipiac ends home slate with 4-1 win over RPI

Quinnipiac vs. RPI (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

If this was the final home game of the 2017-2018 season, then the Quinnipiac Bobcats went out in style defeating the RPI Engineers 4-1 on Saturday night at the Frank J. Perrotti, Jr. Arena in Hamden, Conn. Prior to the game, the university honored its five soon to be graduating seniors in Kevin McKernan, Tanner MacMaster, Bo Pieper, Landon Smith and Kevin Duane. With Quinnipiac currently not in the top 8 of the ECAC with two games to play and needing help to get home ice, it's possible these five seniors might have played their final home game on York Hill.

Four different players scored for Quinnipiac who also got multi point games from both Odeen Tufto (2 assists) and Tanner MacMaster (2 assists) which was their 13th and 9th multi point games respectively this season en route it the victory. "I thought it was a good effort, said head coach Rand Pecknold. I thought Keith was great in net. The power play had three goals. We were disciplined, played hard and had a lot of passion." 

Quinnipiac took control of the game just under the five minute mark in the first period when Craig Martin ripped a shot high past Lindell Marshall on a cross ice feed from Tanner MacMaster. The Bobcats headed into the intermission up a goal and having out shot RPI 15-4. Just under the nine minute mark of the second period RPI's Jared Wilson boarded Nick Jermain on a vicious hit. Wilson stayed in the game but was assessed a five minute major penalty. A little under four minutes into the power play Quinnipiac struck when Matt Forchuk's vision set up a cross ice pass to Scott Davidson who sent a one-timer past Marshall. "It feels great when I score, said Scott Davidson. It doesn't happen very often but when it does it's awesome."

Just a minute later Quinnipiac struck again on the power play when Brandon Fortunato cleaned up a rebound off Brogan Rafferty's shot from the point for his 5th goal of the season and 4th in the last six games. "I think Brandon has been great, said Pecknold. He's been eating up a lot of minutes and doing a great job with the breakouts. He's getting better and better as a defender and it was only a matter of time before the points were going to come. He's set up a lot of players and we just haven't finished those goals so his points should be a lot higher than it is."

Quinnipiac getting ready to salute fans after 4-1 win over RPI (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

RPI broke the shutout on goaltender Keith Petruzzelli (21 saves) when Donovan Ott scored on the power play for the Engineers. A little less than five minutes later just past the 16 minute mark of the third period Quinnipiac scored on the power play on Bo Pieper's 11th goal of the season to cap the scoring and seal the win. "We bought in for 60 minutes, Pecknold added. Last night we were good for 42 or 44 minutes, whatever it was. I think we were more focused tonight with the bench real good tonight and positive and showed a lot of passion and energy." 

Quinnipiac now concludes the regular season with a trip to North Country where they will take on St. Lawrence Friday night before facing Clarkson on Saturday night. Currently in 9th place, Quinnipiac will need to win likely both games along with getting some help in the form of both Princeton and Yale both losing to get into the top 8. With only one win and two losses by both Yale or Princeton will get Quinnipiac into a top 8 spot and home ice advantage. 

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Scouting the Enemy: RPI Engineers

The last time these two teams met Quinnipiac was a ranked team and had expectations of being one of the top teams in the ECAC this season. Fast forward three plus months and Quinnipiac is currently in a fight to just get home ice in the ECAC playoffs not something that anyone thought would happen when the season begun. RPI has really struggled at times under first year coach Dave Smith and they might not reach the win total they had a season ago under former coach Seth Appert. They have had wins over a ranked Quinnipiac team at the time, Yale and recently upset #1 Cornell on the road and started the season with two ties against current national ranked team Ohio State so there are steps in the right direction. Quinnipiac and RPI are both coming off loses on Friday night to Union and Princeton respectively. 

RPI Key Players: Jacob Hayhurst (F), Evan Tironese (F), Todd Burgess (F), Viktor Liljegren (F), Billy Jerry (F), Mike Prapavessis (D), Will Reilly (D), Chase Perry (G)

The Engineer has been really bad for pretty much the entire season though they did score five times in a win over Quinnipiac earlier this season. At 2.13 goals per game they are the third worst scoring team in the country. 31 games into the season and they don't have a single player with double digit goals scored. The two best forward for RPI are Jacob Hayhurst (19 points) and Evan Tironese (15 points). They have a couple of freshman in Emil Ohrvall and Billy Jerry who each have 11 points. RPI has three defenseman in their top six in scoring which shows how much they lack at the forward position. The RPI power play is not a strength converting on just 12.8% of its chances (16-of-125)

Defensively they are the third worst defense in the country at 3.58 goals per game. The last two games have seen them give up 14 goals. Collectively the team is a minus 65 on the blue line. Not one defender is a plus player. They started out the season pretty good on defense as well in the first month of the season highlighted by a pair of 1-1 ties against nationally ranked Ohio State. Things have come apart since then where they have been many games where they haven't defended anyone. The senior captains on defense in Mike Prapavessis and Jared Wilson have contributed offensively but really have struggled defensively. I wonder if the lack of scoring by the RPI forwards is contributing to the struggles defensively as it forces the defenseman to play more offensively to make up for the lack of scoring. This is similar to what Quinnipiac has gone through this year as well. On the penalty kill, RPI also has not done its job killing off just under 77.5% (96-of-124) of penalties.

Freshman Linden Marshall has supplemented Chase Perry as the starting goaltender. The Victoria, British Columbia native has a 3.32 goals against average and a .903 save percentage in 23 games played sporting a 4-15-2 record. He's got good size in net at 6'3, 195 pounds. Marshall had his best start of the season February 3rd when he gave up one goal in a stunning upset of then #1 Cornell on the road at Lynah Rink. In his last two starts he has given up a total of 14 goals. He didn't face Quinnipiac in their last meeting so it will be up to Quinnipiac to watch the film on studying Marshall should he start again.

For Quinnipiac this is a must win if they want to finish in the top 8 of the ECAC for home ice. A win by RPI not only dampers senior night but would pretty much keep Quinnipiac out of the top 8 depending on other results around the league.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Quinnipiac falls to Union 5-2

Quinnipiac vs Union (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

The Quinnipiac Bobcats came back from a 2-0 deficit only to see the Union Dutchmen score three unanswered goals in the third period to win 5-2 on Friday night at Frank J. Perrotti Jr., Arena in Hamden, Conn. In what could be the penultimate home game of the season should Quinnipiac not secure home ice in the first round of the ECAC playoffs it was too many mistakes and breakdowns that caused the Bobcats to be swept by Union for the second season in a row. 

After looking strong at times in the first period Quinnipiac gave up a power play goal in the later stages of the period by Union's Greg Campbell. "That game for us was kind of a microcosm of our season, said head coach Rand Pecknold. Late in the first we have a half empty net that we miss, don't score and then we take a bad penalty and we are down 1-0. We dominated the first period and we made two to three mistakes to get us down 1-0."

Union extended its lead to 2-0 just over three minutes into the third period on Ryan Scarfo's 18th goal of the season. Quinnipiac was again pounding shots on Union goaltender Jake Kupsky (37 saves) to no avail until freshman Matt Forchuk ripped a one timer off a feed from Craig Martin five hole past Kupsky cutting the Dutchmen lead in half. It was the second goal of the season for Forchuk who had 97 points in the Alberta Junior Hockey League a season ago. "His skill set is excellent, said Pecknold. His vision and his ability to make plays. He does it all the time in practice he led the AJHL in scoring last year. We project him eventually to be a big time scorer for us. He's coming along but he's had some struggles this year."

Alex Whelan celebrating his 14th goal (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

Quinnipiac tied the score just 56 seconds into the third period when Alex Whelan deked Kupsky out for his team leading 14th goal of the season. Odeen Tufto picked up the assist and now has points in 8 of his 10 games. Just a minute later Anthony Rinaldi scored ending the night for Andrew Shortridge (12 saves) in favor of Keith Petruzzelli (6 saves). Not even two minutes later Union scored on a breakaway by Sean Harrison which was the first chance that Petruzzelli saw since coming into the game.

A shorthanded goal by Brett Supinski was icing on the cake for Union who improved to 19-13-1 (14-5 ECAC) with the win and now have sole possession of second place. Quinnipiac fell to 12-15-4 (7-10-2 ECAC) and currently sits in 9th place in the conference standings. The loss ensures that the best Quinnipiac can finish the regular season is at .500. Quinnipiac will wrap up its regular season home slate Saturday night when they welcome RPI to Hamden for senior night as Quinnipiac will honor Kevin McKernan, Kevin Duane, Tanner MacMaster, Bo Pieper and Landon Smith who could be playing in front of the home crowd for the final time in their careers. 

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Scouting the Enemy: Union Dutchmen

Quinnipiac returns home after a short road trip where they lost to Yale for the first time since 2013 and rebounded with a win at Brown on Saturday. In what could be the final home games of season should Quinnipiac not finish in the top 8, they welcome in Union on Friday night before the senior night festivities on Saturday against RPI. The Dutchmen have had a solid season and are currently tied for second place with Clarkson. They have done a bit better than their 6th place projection in the ECAC coaches and media polls and that is a testament to what Rick Bennett has built in Schenectady. 

Union Key Players: Ryan Scarfo (F), Brett Supinski (F), Anthony Rinaldi (F), Cole Maier (F), Sebastian Vidmar (F), Vas Kolias (D), J.C. Brassard (D), Greg Campbell (D), Darion Hanson (G), Jake Kupsky (G)

The Union offense has been solid this season to a tune of 3 goals per game and that is without their two best freshman recruits [Jack Adams and Parker Foo] combining for 4 goals and 16 points. They have five players with 20 points or more including leading scorers Ryan Scarfo and Cole Maier who have 29 points apiece. Sebastian Vidmar is having a bit of a down year without Spencer Foo or Mike Vecchione but still has 28 points. Brett Supinski has 24 points while sophomore Anthony Rinaldi is second on the team with 14 goals. Union does a real good job of finding players to replace past stars and don't seem to miss a beat. A lot of it is the coaching and recruiting the right players but the Union staff seems to put this team in position to win year after year. They are an excellent power play team at 21.58% (30-of-139) which is the 3rd best among ECAC teams behind Clarkson and Princeton.

The defense which many thought would struggle has stabilized to a tune of 2.59 goals per game which is 18th nationally but 5th among ECAC teams. J.C Brassard has 18 points and is a plus 7 while Vas Kolias (16 points, minus 3) and Greg Campbell (14 points, minus 3) have been solid this season. The big addition has been freshman Joseph Campolieto who has 7 points along with being a plus 12 and leads the team in that category. He is a big reason along with another freshman in Brandon Estes in why the Union defense has been solid this season. The penalty kill of Union is about average at a shade over 80%. This is where Quinnipiac needs to take advantage on the man advantage and while the Bobcat power play hasn't been anything special this year its been very solid of late and could help them win an important game over a good opponent like Union.

The goal-tending has seen both sophomore Jake Kupsky (19 games) and freshman Darion Hanson (14 games) play a lot this season. Both have put up similar numbers in terms of goals against (2.32 for Hanson vs. 2.47 for Kupsky) and save percentage (.908 for Hanson and .918 for Kupsky). The biggest difference is the 10-4 record that Hanson has compared to the 8-9-1 record for Kupsky. Quinnipiac saw Hanson when they played up at Union back in November and he gave up only 1 goal in a 4-1 win. To me either goaltender is worthy of a start in this game and would be a challenge for the Bobcats.

With 4 games left on the ECAC schedule, Quinnipiac needs all the points they can get in order to get a home playoff series. This is clearly the tougher of the two weekend games on Friday against Union but they clearly need to come away from this game with at least a point or two before they head into senior night on Saturday.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

In the Pipeline: 2/12/2018

The streak is broken. It took almost five years but Yale finally beat Quinnipiac for the first time since the 2013 NCAA National Championship game in Pittsburgh. It was a hard fought game with Yale edging the Bobcats 3-2 at Ingalls Rink minus the Bulldogs head coach, Keith Allain who is serving as an assistant coach with Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Quinnipiac got back in the win column on Saturday night with a 3-0 win over Brown and the team currently sits at 9th in the standings but two points out of 5th place so their is a clutter of teams jockeying for position with four regular season games left. The last two weekends should be interesting to see where Quinnipiac can finish. A lot of future Bobcats had very good weeks so let's take a look at how some of them did.

Michael Lombardi (photo by Lorne White/KelownaNow)

BCHL Commits

It was a big week for a handful of the Quinnipiac commits playing out in the Western Canada Junior A league with numerous commits putting up multi point weeks.

Michael Lombardi had one goal and five assists in four games played for the West Kelowna Warriors. He has had points in 8 of his last 9 games and on the season has 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) in 53 games played. He is closer to a point per game player after his trade to West Kelowna with 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 40 games played.

Ethan De Jong had another multi point weekend for the Prince George Spruce Kings. In two games played he had 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists). In 46 games played on the season he has 60 points (17 goals, 43 assists). He is currently tied for 6th in scoring in the BCHL.

T.J. Friedmann had 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) in three games played for the Victoria Grizzlies. The St. Louis, Missouri native has points in his last 9 games and 11 of his last 12. On the season in 53 games played he has 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists).

Desi Burgart of the Surrey Eagles had a 4 point week (3 goals, 1 assist). He has points in five of his last six games played. On the season he has 45 points (21 goals, 24 assists) in 47 games played.

USHL commits

William Fallstrom had a 4 point week for the Fargo Force with two goals and two assists in three games played. In 39 games, the Sweden native has 26 points (8 goals, 18 assists).

Zach Metsa was recently traded to the Central Illinois Flying Aces from the Youngstown Phantoms.

Wyatt Bongiovanni is expected back in the Muskegon Lumberjacks lineup after next weekend after being out with an undisclosed injury.

Justin Robbins made 23 saves in a 5-4 win for the Chicago Steel. On the season he is 4-3 with a 4.13 goals against average and an .866 save percentage in 11 games played.

AJHL commits

Matt Cassidy picked up one assist this weekend for the Brooks Bandits. On the season, Cassidy has 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) in 43 games played.

Matt Fawcett (photo by the Winchedon School)

Prep Schools/High Schools

Matthew Fawcett continues to leads New England Prep hockey in scoring with 60 points (24 goals, 36 assists) in 22 games played. He is averaging 2.73 points per game this season. A season ago he had 54 points in 27 games played and it was unknown if he would put up the same production with his line mates having graduated.

Salisbury defenseman Peter Dilberatore has 14 points (2 goals, 12 assists) on one of the top prep teams in New England. The Nova Scotian native is expected to be a 2018 NHL draft this June.

John Campomenosi of Don Bosco Prep signed his national letter of intent to play at Quinnipiac this past week.

NCDC commits

Gus Van Nes picked up another three assists this past weekend in two games played. The Dutch born forward has 56 points (16 goals, 40 assists) in 41 games played this season and is leading the NCDC in scoring by 6 points over the next closest player. Van Nes ages out of juniors this week so his season is over according to the Providence Journal's Mark Divver.

Connor Tait picked up 2 assists in 3 games played this past week for the New Jersey Hitmen NCDC team. In 34 games played, the Maryland native has 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists).

Daniel Winslow picked up 2 assists in 2 games played for the New Jersey Hitmen NCDC team. In 35 games played he has 30 points (9 goals, 21 assists).

Midget Commits

Victor Czerneckianair had two goals and one assist this past weekend for the U-15 Selects team at South Kent. In 45 games played this season he had 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists). The Southington, CT native is 3rd on the team in scoring and a possible tryout candidate for the NDTP program.

Jack Silich had a two goals and three assists this weekend for the Chicago Mission. On the season he has 81 points (30 goals, 51 assists).

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Quinnipiac shutouts Brown 3-0

Quinnipac at Brown (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

The Quinnipiac Bobcats got back into the win column and earned two important ECAC points with a 3-0 win over the Brown Bears on Saturday night at Meehan Auditorium in Providence, Rhode Island. A night after suffering its first loss to Yale since 2013 with a 3-2 loss at Ingalls, Quinnipiac was in need of a split of the weekend road trip and playing perennial ECAC bottom feeder Brown helped the Bobcats fortunes. It was Quinnipiac's second shutout of Brown this season as the Bobcats won 5-0 over the Bears back on October 17th.

Three different Bobcats scored on the night including Hamden native Joe O'Connor's first career collegiate goal and point when scored on his knee sliding into the slot. O'Connor is the first Hamden native to score a goal in a game at the Division I level and first to do it for Quinnipiac since Justin Nolan in the 1997-1998 season. Andrew Shortridge (22 saves) posted his 5th shutout of the season and 6th of his career. 

"I thought we were pretty good, said head coach Rand Pecknold. The first period was a little shaky at times and we didn't play hard enough. We found a way and O'Connor gets nice goal and Shortridge was excellent. He was our best player tonight which is what you need from your goaltender."

After the sluggish first period Quinnipiac took control just 55 seconds into the period when junior defenseman Brandon Fortunato scored on a breakaway. After a slow start to the season, the transfer from Boston University has been hot in the last four games played with 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) after only having two assists in the first 25 games of the season. 

"We regrouped and we had a really good second and third period, said Pecknold. It's a good road win."

Alex Whelan as the puck heads to his stick (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

The Bobcats final goal was thing of beauty. Karlis Cukste's outlet pass from the edge of the defensive circle found Kevin Duane alone for a breakaway which he buried glove side past Brown's Luke Kania. Three players that don't normally score goals helped propel Quinnipiac to this win. "We need goals, said Pecknold. Where they come from it doesn't matter."

Quinnipiac played strong defense in the third period and did a good job when the Bears pulled their goaltender with 8 minutes left in the game. It also helped having a strong performance in net from Shortridge who recorded his 3rd straight win and 5th in the last seven games that he played in. 

"We needed these two points, said Shortridge. This game was huge. We're definitely taking this win to build momentum into the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs." 

As Quinnipiac heads into the final two weekends of the regular season they currently sit in 9th place in the ECAC standings with 16 points but trail 5th place Colgate by only two points. These next two weeks will see a lot of jockeying for position in the middle of the ECAC. The Bobcats return home next weekend to face second place Union on Friday followed by 11th place RPI on Saturday which will be senior night. 

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