Saturday, February 16, 2019

Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 2-1 win over RPI


Quinnipiac got three much needed point in the capital region this weekend

Quinnipiac got into the win column and got two much needed ECAC points after a late Odeen Tufto power play goal stole a win in regulation on the road. Coupled with losses by Harvard and Cornell, Quinnipiac sits only one point out of first place with four games to play. Here are my thoughts and observations after the RPI game.


- Quinnipiac probably stole this game in regulation but they will take it. A late penalty on RPI's Donovan Ott opened the door for Quinnipiac to get out of Houston Field House with a 2-1 win after Odeen Tufto banged one home from the slot for his 14th goal of the season. It was the first power play goal for Quinnipiac since the St. Lawrence game.

- Andrew Shortridge only made 18 saves but really kept Quinnipiac in this one with a key save on Brady Wiffen on the power play to keep the score 1-0. He made the saves he had to make and continues to play at a high level and likely will be the ECAC goaltender of the year if this play continues.  

- This game was a dogfight with RPI and frankly I am not surprised one bit. The Engineers have been one of the better ECAC teams since the calendar has turned to 2019 and they have a very good goaltender in freshman Owen Savory who continues to play at a high level and keep RPI in games. The RPI defense was also very good cutting off lanes for Quinnipiac to shoot. Color me impressed by RPI and I believe they will be a tough out in the ECAC playoffs with the way they are playing.

- It is definitely time to be a bit concerned with this offense as they have a combined four goals in their last three games. The injury to Brandon Fortunato is showing up right now as they have not been able to get into a rhythm offensively the past three games. If they can't improve the offense over what we have seen the past three games then this injury is clearly going to loom large for this team.

- It was a big night for the Bobcats on the face-off dot as they beat RPI 44-18 in that category. 
William Fallstrom continues to remind me of Tommy Schutt on face offs as he won 10 of 12 tonight while Nick Jermain won 15 and Odeen Tufto won 12. Scott Davidson also went 5 for 5 on the face-off dot as well.

- Daniel Winslow returned to the lineup and scored the tying goal in the second period and had a great celebration to boot. Winslow has given this team four goals this year but none bigger than that one so far. Two of his four goals have come against RPI in both of the games this season.

- I thought the Quinnipiac power play struggled at times with too much cycling of the puck and not enough shooting. They need to put the puck on net and create chaos in front of the net to cause redirects and deflections for goals. Good things happen sometimes when you put pucks towards the goal. 

- The win moved Quinnipiac back to 5th in the pairwise after Saturday night as Ohio State was swept on the weekend by Minnesota. The Bobcats remain in a good spot right now and can still get a number one seed depending on how they finished the regular season and conference tournament. 

- Next weekend is the final regular season home stand of the year with St. Lawrence on Friday followed by a very good Clarkson team on Saturday night which is senior night. Chase Priskie, Brandon Fortunato, Craig Martin, Scott Davidson and Luke Shiplo will be honored for their four year careers with the Bobcats. 


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Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 1-1 tie against Union



Andrew Shortridge was the best player on the ice for Quinnipiac against Union

While this wasn't the most pretty performance for Quinnipiac, they were still able to salvage a point after a 1-1 tie against a tough Union team on the road. In the ECAC there are no easy games each and every week you look up and down the league scoreboard and you can constantly find upsets. Both teams battled hard and goal-tending stole the show. It was a fast paced game with a good amount of action despite only two goals scored. Here are my thoughts and observations after the Union game.


- Andrew Shortridge made 27 saves and on this night Quinnipiac needed every single one of them. He made a huge save in the first period on a shot from close range and another one in overtime with the game on the line. Shortridge showed why he should be a finalist for the Mike Richter award with this performance as he was the best player on the ice for the Bobcats and they might have lost this game tonight if it weren't for him. In each of the seasons that Quinnipiac has reached the Frozen Four they have gotten outstanding goal-tending first from Eric Hartzell in 2013 when he was a top three finalist for the Hobey Baker award and in 2016 from Michael Garteig. With the way Shortridge has played this year, he could carry this team to Buffalo. 

- Quinnipiac's top line provided the only scoring when Odeen Tufto sent a pass from the end wall into the slot where Wyatt Bongiovanni sent one past Hanson for his 11th goal of the season. Ethan de Jong got a secondary assist on the goal. Bongiovanni is third on the team in goals scored with 11 trailing Chase Priskie (14) and Odeen Tufto (13). He's been an excellent add to the Quinnipiac roster this season. 

- William Fallstrom was a monster on the face-off dot. He won 20 of 24 face-offs on the night for the Bobcats and helped win some key possession battles. His teammate Odeen Tufto really struggled on face-offs tonight winning onlly 7 of 25 face-offs. They need better than that from their top line center especially when some of these are happening in the offensive zone and could lead to extra scoring chances for Quinnipiac. 

- The ice at Messa Rink was really terrible all night. Pucks weren't being controlled like they usually are and they were bouncing over sticks multiple times. Its pretty unacceptable for the ice of a Division I hockey team especially one that has won a national championship in the past five years to be as bad as it was tonight. 

- Union's defense was really good tonight taking time and space away from Quinnipiac and making it difficult at times to get pucks into the zone. The Dutchmen also blocked an astounding 25 shot attempts on the night. Darion Hanson also was fantastic for Union with 27 saves on the night. He continues to make a difference for Union in goal and has been a thorn in Quinnipiac's side twice this season only allowing two goals against a powerful Bobcat offense. 

- This was a very chippy game was a bunch of extra curricular stuff after whistles. However the officials swallowed their whistles tonight and assessed only two minor penalties on the night with a boarding call on Union's Zachary Emelifeonwu in the first period and a hooking call on Quinnipiac's Karlis Cukste in the third period. These are the types of games you want to see the players win on their own and not have the referees decide it.

- Quinnipiac is still hasn't won in six games against Union dating back to the 2015-2016 season. They also have not won at Messa Rink since the 2014-2015 season. The Dutchmen will be a tough out in the ECAC playoffs and not a team that I would want to face in the quarterfinals should Quinnipiac get a first round bye. 

- The tie dropped Quinnipiac to 6th in the pairwise after Friday night but they remain three points behind first place Cornell who tied Brown 3-3. Quinnipiac is now tied for second place in the ECAC standings with Harvard at 22 points with identical 10-5-2 record. Spots 2-7 in the ECAC standings are now separated by a total of four points so expect a lot of chaos in the next few weeks of conference play.

- Tomorrow's game against 9-17-2 RPI will be a challenge. This is a team that has started to play well in the second half of the season and has found themselves a goaltender in Owen Savory. They can't be overlooked at all especially after rallying from two goals down against Princeton and winning 6-2. The Engineer players are starting to buy into second year coach Dave Smith.


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Friday, February 15, 2019

Weekend Preview: Union/RPI

Alex Whelan and Quinnipiac head out on their 2nd to last road trip of the regular season

Union Head Coach: 
Rick Bennett (8th Season) 172-93-37

2018-2019 Union record: 14-9-5 (7-8-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. Union: Series tied 16-16-4

Union Key Players: Cole Maier (F), Brett Supinski (F), Ryan Walker (F), Sebastian Vidmar (F), Liam Morgan (F), Jack Adams (F), Anthony Rinaldi (F), Vas Kolias (D), Brandon Estes (D), Greg Campbell (D), Jake Kupsky (G)

For a team that got off to an 8-3-2 start, it has been a struggle at times for Union to find consistency. At 14-9-5 the Dutchmen find itself 20th in the pairwise but two losses and a tie to RPI and along with being swept by Brown and a loss to Princeton loom large right now. They probably need to win all six remaining regular season games to get into the top 16 prior to the conference tournament. Union has won five straight games against Quinnipiac with the Bobcats not winning since the 2015-2016 season ago the Dutchmen. The last Quinnipiac win in Schenectady was back in the 2014-2015 season when they won 4-3.

The Dutchmen are a top 20 offensive team in the country averaging 3.04 goals per game. Its a balanced roster that brings the scoring as the top seven players have scored six or more goals and have 16 or more points this season. They are led by three senior forwards in Cole Maier, Brett Supinski and Ryan Walker who have 23, 20 and 20 points respectively this season. Walker leads the team with 10 goals. As we have seen this season this is a team that can score in bunches with the their 5-1 win in Hamden as proof. The Union power play has been solid this season at 18.8% (19-of-101) which is good for 25th in the country.

On defense Union has been a little above average this season giving up 2.64 goals per game which is good for 25th in the country. Sophomore Brandon Estes has had a breakout season with 15 points and a plus 7 on the blue line while junior Vas Kolias and senior Greg Campbell have been steady presences for the Dutchmen. If there is an area where Union struggles it is on the penalty kill as they have one of the worst in the country at 74.4% (67-of-90) which is 56th in the nation. This is an area where Quinnipiac's top five power play unit needs to capitalize but we must see how they adjust especially with the season ending injury to Brandon Fortunato.

Sophomore Darion Hanson has taken over the starting duties in the second half of the season from senior Jake Kupsky due to the more consistent play from the second year goaltender. Hanson was spectacular against Quinnipiac earlier this season when he made 34 saves in a 5-1 win over the Bobcats in Hamden. His numbers this season are solid with a 2.37 goals against average and a .922 save percentage which are superior to Kupsky's and the reason he is seeing more time in net for the Dutchmen. Expect Hanson to get the nod Friday night.


RPI Head Coach: Dave Smith (2nd Season) 15-44-7 (187-267-66 overall)

2018-2019 RPI record: 9-17-3 (6-9-2 ECAC)

All-time vs. RPI: Quinnipiac leads 14-7-9

RPI Key Players: Jacob Hayhurst (F), Patrick Polino (F), Brady Wiffen (F), Ottoville Leppanen (F), Todd Burgess (F), Will Reilly (D), Kyle Hallbauer (D), Owen Savory (G)

While RPI has a poor record of 8-17-3, they have been pretty solid since the calendar changed to 2019. Since the start of the new year, RPI is a respectable 4-4-3. They tied Cornell, Dartmouth and Union in that stretch and also played to competitive losses against Harvard, Yale and even Brown. Give this team a lot of credit for battling and playing hard in the second half of the season as Dave Smith continues to mold this team into his own. This should be a competitive game against a team that is clearly starting to get better as the season winds down.

Scoring continues to be an issue for RPI as they only average 1.93 goals per game this season. Junior Jacob Hayhurst has 23 points but only 3 goals this season while Ottoville Leppanen has 16 points on 3 goals and 13 assists. Juniors Todd Burgess (13 points) and Patrick Polino (11 points) along with defenseman Will Reilly (15 points) make up the majority of the Engineers offense. With RPI not being a high scoring team they have to rely on their defense and goal-tending to keep games low scoring in order to get a bounce here or there on offense to win some of these games. The RPI power play has struggled this season to a tune of just 14.5% (12-of-83) which is 53rd in the country.

Defensively RPI has played much better in 2019 than 2018 so far. They are a middle of the pack team in goals allowed at 3.07 which is good for a tie at 36th with Boston University. While Will Reilly has been a consistent point guy for RPI his plus/minus has vastly improved this season as he is an even right now after being a minus 36 combined the past two seasons. Three freshman in Kyle Hallbauer, Jake Johnson and Brady Ferner have given the Engineers a lot of games on the blue line for young players. The experience these players are getting now will only help in the long run and its seemingly paying off with better defensive play in the second half of the season. RPI's penalty kill is middle of the pack at 80.2% (77-of-96) which is good for 34th in the country.

Freshman goaltender Owen Savory has taken over the reins in between the pipes from an ineffective Linden Marshall and has run away with the job. Savory has started the last eight games for RPI and has kept the Engineers in pretty much every game against the one against Clarkson. In 17 games played he has a 2.30 goals against average and a .933 save percentage which are excellent numbers despite having a record of 3-9-3. His team has been on the short end of the stick but has been very competitive. He has given this team stability in between the pipes which gives them a chance to compete every single game even with the lack of talent on the roster. Expect Savory to be in goal when they face Quinnipiac on Saturday night.


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Monday, February 11, 2019

Analysis of the season ending injury to Brandon Fortunato

Brandon Fortunato was in the midst of his best collegiate season prior to his injury

When word came down and we reported that Brandon Fortunato would be out for the season with a leg injury, which we confirmed was a broken fibula it was a shocking development for a team that was in the midst of a rebound season and was pushing closer to a return to the NCAA tournament. The injury occurred in practice the week of the Yale game. While you never want to see injuries in a game you definitely don't want to see them in practice. However you also do not want practice any differently than how you would play in games as you win games based on how you practice the week leading up to them.

With deep NCAA tournament aspirations in the Quinnipiac locker room, this injury stings especially at this point in the season. The Bobcats are not only losing a point per game player, they are losing someone that is a leader and a veteran who has Frozen Four experience. That is extremely valuable come March when the games get even bigger. There is no trades in college hockey to replace a player of Fortunato's caliber. I will say that bringing in Cam Boudreau for the second half of the season looks even smarter now by the Quinnipiac coaching staff. While they cannot fully replace Fortunato, especially with what he brings to the power play along with his puck moving ability, they might be able to recreate him in the aggregate in some of those areas with some of the younger players currently on the roster. You might remember the movie "Moneyball" and the scene where Brad Pitt playing the character of Billy Beane is in a meeting with other front office personnel and says that they cannot replace Giambi's 38 home runs and 120 runs batted in but they might be able to recreate him in the aggregate with other players that could get on base like Giambi did. This is what Quinnipiac needs to try to achieve now with the regular season winding down.

Could Zach Metsa be a power play option for Quinnipiac?

Two big area that will most likely be affected are on the power play and the transition game when the teams skate five on five. Fortunato has excellent skating ability to bring pucks out of the defensive zone quickly from blue line to blue line either with a quick pass or skating it out himself. Against teams that bring a strong fore-check this could be a problem if Quinnipiac struggles to get pucks out of their zone due to the loss of Fortunato.

Moving to the power you have a top unit that usually features three defenceman on it at times with Fortunato and Rafferty as the point men with Priskie in his wheel house at the side of the net looking to one time shots past the goaltender. Keeping Priskie in that spot in lieu of moving into Fortunato's spot on the point is a must in my opinion as he many of the goals he has scored by way of the power play come in that spot by ripping a one timer past the opposing goaltender. They could move freshman Peter Diliberatore up from the second power play unit but I think that would weaken the second unit to a degree as the freshman has scored five of his 11 assists on the power play. He is more valuable with that unit in order to make Quinnipiac have two effective power play lines.

Of the 28 points that Fortunato had this season, half of them came by way of the man advantage on 2 goals and 12 assists. That will not be easy to replace but they might have a couple young players that could replace a portion of that down the stretch if given the opportunity. One of is those players is freshman Zach Metsa. This season he has seen action in 22 of the 28 games and has two goals. But its what he has done in the past two season in junior hockey on the power play that has me intrigued as someone that could give them some production on the power play.

Metsa was a power play specialist in his two seasons of junior hockey first with the Merritt Centennials in the BCHL in the 2016-2017 season followed by a season with Youngstown & Central Illinois in the USHL this past year. With Merritt almost half his 27 points on the season came way of the power play on a goal and 12 assists on the man advantage. He added one power play assist out of five in the postseason for the Centennials. Even when moving to the much tougher USHL which has stacks many of the rosters for Division I programs, Metsa amassed more than half of his points by way of the man advantage when he had 2 goals and 11 assists of his 24 point season on 4 goals and 20 assists. Playing with veteran players like Priskie, Tufto and Rafferty on the first power play unit should he get that chance could ease the transition.

Another player they could look take a look at back there is Cam Boudreau who has some power play experience from his time with the Junior Bruins in the NCDC. While the league is on the the same par as that of the USHL or even BCHL, Boudreau is still a talented young player that can move the puck. His power play numbers in juniors do not match what Metsa did but they probably don't tell the whole story either. You need to factor in the players he is playing with as well along with the competition in the NCDC isn't the greatest compared to the leagues that Metsa was playing in. In 71 regular season games, Boudreau only had two goals and an assist on the power play.

Could the coaching staff add another younger forward to the power play mix in a Michael Lombardi or Desi Burgart who both have shown nice potential as freshman with eight points each respectively. The key for this coaching staff is to try to find the right mix to replace Fortunato for possibly upwards of 15 plus games that Quinnipiac may play the rest of the way. No one said this was going to be easy and you never want to see any player get injured,  but you hope that this team will come together even further and push harder for one of their teammates who cannot be out there with them as they head down the stretch.


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Saturday, February 9, 2019

Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 4-1 loss to Brown

It was a tough night in Hamden as Quinnipiac fell 4-1 to Brown

A night after beating up on its Whitney Avenue rival,  Quinnipiac had a letdown performance as they were beaten 4-1 by the Brown Bears who swept their weekend slate of games against Quinnipiac and Princeton. It was a surprise letdown after the strong effort a night ago against Yale when the Bobcats were relentless on the ice and took it to their opponent. Here are my thoughts and observations after the Brown game.

- A night after Quinnipiac's best effort of the season when they played a complete 60 minute game, the Bobcats struggled against Brown in their first loss in almost a month. It was very surprising that the energy level was not the same as it was the night before against when they played a rival. The team started slow in the first period and from the get go you could tell it was not going to be as easy as the Yale game was. Quinnipiac is going to need to have better back to back efforts especially when playoff time comes around. I would think Rand Pecknold and the coaching staff will have a tough week of practice after this one tonight. 

- Quinnipiac had 48 shots on goal but a strong effort from backup goaltender Luke Kania was the difference. Kania saw the puck well and made some key saves especially in the third period. This was Kania's best effort of the season against one of the best teams in the country. Sometimes you need to tip your cap to the opposing goaltender and tonight was one of those nights.

- Brown was really strong on the fore-check tonight and it really was a difference for them in their win over Quinnipiac. The forecheck led to a turnover in the Quinnipiac defensive zone which led to the third goal for the Bears. Brown was relentless against Quinnipiac tonight forcing turnovers and making it tough for Quinnipiac to bring the puck into the offensive zone at times. They also had good puck possession on the night that led to their scoring opportunities. Credit to the Bears for controlling the pace of this game and taking Quinnipiac off their game tonight.

- One of the themes in three of Quinnipiac's worst losses this season against Dartmouth, Union and now Brown, has been their lack of starting fast in each of them. All three games saw Quinnipiac fail to score in the first period, and in two of those games (Dartmouth and Brown) they failed to score in the first two periods. For Quinnipiac to be successful in my opinion they need those first period goals to put pressure on the opposing team instead of having to chase those teams for goals later in the game. 

- The Brown defense is highly improved from a season ago even though they lack star power on the back end. They did a great job against Quinnipiac with 19 blocked shots and making sure they limited second chance opportunities and clearing pucks out of the zone effectively. They have a strong work ethic and it seems Brendan Whittet is getting the most out of this team who are now .500 on the season after five consecutive losing seasons. 

- The first three minutes of the third period saw four goals. Brown took control of the game with two goals in the first minute and five seconds of the period before Brogan Rafferty scored on the power play a minute later. Just when it looked like Quinnipiac might get back into the game, Brown scored a minute later to push the lead back to three goals. The goal by Jack Gessert seemed to take the air out of the building even with a little under 16 minutes to play in the game. 

Brown won against Quinnipiac for the first time in ten games

- Chase Priskie and Wyatt Bongiovanni combined for 20 shots on net against Brown which was almost half of the teams shots on the night. While Priskie assisted on the Rafferty power play goal both him and Bongiovanni were a combined minus two on the night. Its tough to see two of the teams best players not find the back of the net when they put that many shots on goal.

- You have to wonder how much air was taken out from the team after news of the season ending injury to senior Brandon Fortunato which was first reported by the blog Saturday morning. A broken fibula ends the collegiate career to a player that was playing some of his best hockey of the season and of his career. Fortunato who finished the season with 28 points would have likely hit the 40 point plateau had he not gotten hurt. His ability to move pucks out of the zone and his power play ability will clearly be missed along with his veteran presence on the back end. He is only one of five players on the Quinnipiac roster with NCAA tournament experience having been to the Frozen Four with Boston University back in the 2015 season. 

- How smart does the Quinnipiac coaching staff look now for bringing in Cam Boudreau for the second half of the season? The freshman is going to be thrust into a larger role along with fellow freshman Zach Metsa and Peter Diliberatore with the latter already seeing top four minutes. All three will be relied upon to pick up the slack for their injured teammate along with versatile senior Luke Shiplo. 

- Andrew Shortridge gave up four goals on 29 shots but I think the defense in front him didn't do a good enough job of clearing pucks out of the zone in this game. This was the first game all season in which Shortridge allowed more than three goals in a game which shows just how good he has been.

- With the loss, Quinnipiac now is three points behind Cornell for first place in the ECAC standings. Currently in second place with 21 points, the Bobcats are going to need some help if they want to win the Cleary Cup as regular season champions but that probably requires no more slip ups the rest of the way as well. It probably will be tough to catch the Big Red who have only lost one game since December 1st.

- It's on to the capital region of New York for Quinnipiac as they head to Union on Friday followed by RPI on Saturday night. Quinnipiac is winless in six games against Union dating back to the 2015-2016 season when they beat the Dutchmen 5-0 in Hamden. The Bobcats haven't won at Union since November of 2014 when they won 4-3 over the then defending national champions.


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Friday, February 8, 2019

Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 4-0 shutout of Yale

Quinnipiac dominated its Whitney Avenue rival 4-0

Quinnipiac took apart its Whitney Avenue rival in dominant fashion winning 4-0. The Bobcats took control of this game early with a goal in the first period but completely dominating puck possession and shots on goal. They finished the game outshooting Yale 50-23 en route to keeping the Heroes Hat in Hamden for another season which is the 7th in a row. Quinnipiac goes for the weekend sweep tomorrow when they host Brown. Here are my thoughts and observations after the Yale game.

- What an incredible effort from Quinnipiac. They dominated this game from start to finish. They controlled puck possession, played with a strong pace and peppered Corbin Kaczperski with shots all night. The team never let up and easily could have scored more than four goals on the night. Quinnipiac continues to show they are for real and are showing the ability to play deep into March and possibly April.

- While Quinnipiac was excellent in this game, I thought Yale was awful. They played with no pace and got totally outplayed all night long. They were lucky Kaczperski played well or this game could have been worse. I was not impressed by the Bulldogs and they look vastly overrated. As was in the playoffs last year if you shut down Joe Snively, the rest of the team folds.

- The dominance by Quinnipiac over Yale is just astounding at this point. They are 15-2-4 against the Bulldogs since 2011. However I'd reverse that record in a heartbeat if Quinnipiac could have that loss in Pittsburgh back in 2013 to a National Championship win.

- Quinnipiac was without senior defenseman Brandon Fortunato who got hurt in practice. A source told me he lost an edge on his skates and went into the boards. The time frame of the injury is unknown at this time but his loss is huge as he has been one of Quinnipiac's best players this season on the back end and is a weapon on the power play. Some players are going to have to step up with Fortunato out notably Luke Shiplo, Zach Metsa and Cam Boudreau. Tonight Shiplo stepped up with a goal.

The Heroes Hat will remain in Hamden for another season

- Of the 12 points on the night for Quinnipiac, 5 of them came from freshman with William Fallstrom and Michael Lombardi scoring their 6th and 5th goals respectively. Fellow freshman Desi Burgart, Peter Diliberatore and Ethan de Jong added assists. This has been a very special freshman class and one that should continue to keep Quinnipiac in the mix the few years.

- Nick Jermain played his best game of the season with a goal and an assist effort. His goal in the first got Quinnipiac on the board while he assisted on Michael Lombardi's goal in the third period. Getting Nick Jermain hot could be a big boost to the Bobcats offense down the stretch as he is a player with good offensive skills.

- TJ Friedmann was back in his familiar number 19 on Friday after wearing Joe O'Connor and Matt Cassidy's uniforms the past two games.

- Andrew Shortridge picked up his fourth shutout of the season in the victory while lowering his goals against and save percentage to 1.14 and .955 respectively. He clearly has been the best goaltender in the ECAC this season and possibly the country. He made 23 saves tonight and played flawlessly. He never gave Yale a chance and limited the amount of rebounds.

- Quinnipiac is in second place in the ECAC standings all by themselves after the win over Yale but could have ended the night in first place had Clarkson beat Cornell. Instead the Golden Knights laid an egg and got blown out at Lynah Rink 5-0 against the Big Red. While Quinnipiac holds the tiebreaker over Cornell due to a win and a tie they still trail by a point in the standings.

- Quinnipiac now faces a Brown team that is inching closer to the .500 mark at 9-10-3. They went to Princeton and beat a struggling Tigers team 4-2 at Hobey Baker Rink. With the Yale game in the rearview mirror, Quinnipiac needs to make sure it sweeps this weekend slate of games and keep pace with Cornell at the top of the ECAC standings.


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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Weekend Preview: Yale/Brown

Quinnipiac returns home for a key weekend series against Yale & Brown

Yale Head Coach: Keith Allain (13th season) 231-151-42

2018-2019 Yale record: 11-7-3 (9-4-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. Yale : Quinnipiac leads series 20-7-5

Yale Key Players: Joe Snively (F), Robbie DeMontis (F), Justin Pearson (F), Kevin O'Neill (F), Curtis Hall (F), Phil Kemp (D), Jack St. Ivany (D), Sam Tucker (G), Corbin Kaczperski (G)

A week after an impressive sweep in North Country, Quinnipiac returns home with its Whitney Avenue rival waiting in the wings. While Quinnipiac treats this as a rivalry game I am not sure the same can be said on the Yale side. Frankly I think the Bobcats rivalry with Cornell is more real because the hatred is real between the two teams and they have faced off in multiple playoff series. After a 7-2-2 start, the Bulldogs have cooled off going just 4-5-1 since December 11th. This under .500 stretch has pushed them to 22nd in the pairwise rankings and needing a strong finish to jump up into the top 16.

Yale is 28th in the country in goals scored at 2.95 per game but take Joe Snively out of the equation and this is a totally different Yale team. Snively who has 27 points on 13 goals and 14 assists accounts for 20% of the Yale goals this season. He is the key in order to shutting down the Bulldog offense. If you can prevent him from getting on the score sheet there is a good you are going to win the game as the Bulldogs offense outside of him struggles to generate much offense. A lot was expected of Bruins 4th round pick Curtis Hall but he's amounted just 5 points this year. Three players outside of Snively have 14 points apiece in junior Robbie DeMontis, sophomore Kevin O'Neil and freshman Justin Pearson. Even more was expected out of the Smith twins and they have combined for just 16 points. If there is an area where Yale has been good, it is the power play as they are scoring on 20% of their chances this year which is good for 20th in the country. The key for Quinnipiac must be to shut Snively down.

On defense Yale is about in the middle of the pack at 2.71 goals allowed per game which is 27th in the country. They have some nice talent back there in players like Phil Kemp, Jack St. Ivany and Chandler Lindstrand but the expectation was the defense would have been a bit better as Graham Lillibridge has probably played below expectations. On the penalty kill the Bulldogs are average at 81.4% which is good for 28th in the country.

Keith Allain continues to split his goaltenders. Sam Tucker and Corbin Kaczperski have basically split the season in net. While Kaczperski was clearly the better goaltender last season when they platooned, this year it is Tucker with the better overall numbers at a 2.30 goals against average and a .920 save percentage while Kaczperski  has a 2.70 goals against and a .897 save percentage.

With the two teams tied in the ECAC standings, the winner of this game could find itself in first place in the conference at the end of the night depending on other results from around the conference.


Brown Head Coach: Brendan Whittet (10th year) 92-178-42

2018-2019 Brown record: 8-10-3 (5-6-3 ECAC)

All-time vs. Brown: Quinnipiac leads 23-7-6

Brown Key Players: Tommy Marchin (F), Tristan Crozier (F), Alex Brink (F), Joachim Weberg (F), Justin Jallen (F), Zach Giuttari (D), Max Gottlieb (D), Gavin Nieto (G)

Quinnipiac has eight straight wins against Brown dating back to the 2015-2016 season and a ten game unbeaten streak against them dating back to the 2014-2015 season. The last Quinnipiac loss against Brown came almost five years ago on February 15, 2014 when they lost a 4-2 game at Meehan Auditorium. The Bobcats have dominated this series including playoff series wins in 2017, 2012, 2011 and 2008 to boot.

Brown has an offense that has struggled at times to find the back of the net. Averaging just 2.57 goals per game, that ties them for 42nd in the country in that category. They lack high end talent that can score goals in bunches. Tommy Marchin is the leading scorer at 13 points while freshman Tristan Crozier has given them 11 points on 4 goals and 7 assists. Fellow freshman Justin Jallen has five goals while sophomore Joachim Weberg has five as well. The Bears are the worst team in the country on the power play converting at just a shade of 9% (6-of-66) so they are not a major threat in that category but its always wise not give teams the man advantage.

Defensively Brown is a middle of the pack team giving up 2.86 goals per game which is 34th in the country. Zach Giuttari has been really good on the back end for Brown with 11 points, 4 game winning goals and is a plus 10 this season. Senior Max Gottlieb has 9 points and is a plus one. On the penalty kill Brown is 26th in the country at 82.6%. Brown will need a strong effort out of its defense as Quinnipiac possesses a lot of fire power on offense and many ways they can beat you.

Gavin Nieto has gotten the majority of the starts for Brown and has stabilized the position going 7-5-1 with a 2.45 goals against average and a .912 save percentage with one shutout. He has won three of his last four starts and has six wins since the start of December. The California native has gotten better in each season for the Bears and he will need to play well for Brown to have a chance against a good Quinnipiac team.

Quinnipiac has the better talent and overall the better team. Give Brown credit for playing almost .500 hockey with the lack of elite talent they have on the roster. The Bobcats need to keep hot and beat a lesser team in Brown as they strive to winning the Cleary Cup.


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