Thursday, December 7, 2017

Scouting the Enemy: Maine Black Bears

Quinnipiac is limping into the end the of the first semester having only gotten one point last weekend after losing to Harvard and having an embarrassing tie to Dartmouth on Saturday night. To close out the first half of the season the Bobcats welcome the Maine Black Bears to Hamden where it will be a Pieper brothers reunion with Bo's brother Canon a former Quinnipiac player now on the Maine side. Quinnipiac will be without Logan Mick on Friday night as he was suspended by ECAC Hockey for his hit on Dartmouth's Joey Matthews.  All-time Quinnipiac is 4-4-1 against Maine with a 2-0 record against the Black Bears in Hamden. 

Maine Key Players: Mitchell Fossier (F), Eduards Tralmaks (F), Tim Doherty (F), Chase Pearson (F), Nolan Vesey (F), Patrick Shea (F), Brady Keeper (D), Patrick Holway (D), Rob Michel (D), Jeremy Swayman (G)

While Maine is averaging three goals per game this season (21st nationally), they have been Jekyll and Hyde a times. In 7 games which led to 6 wins they scored 4 or more goals. In those other 7 games they are averaging 1.14 goals per game and have been shutout 3 times this season. The question is which Maine offense will show up this weekend against Quinnipiac. The teams top five scorers are all underclassmen led by Mitchell Fossier (11 points), Eduards Tralmaks (9 points), Tim Doherty (9 points) and Chase Pearson (9 points). Two defenseman in Patrick Holway and Rob Michel have 8 points apiece. Former Quinnipiac forward Canon Pieper has 7 points and will play against his brother Bo in a reunion this weekend. The Maine power play is 34th in the country at 17.54% (10-of-57) and if there is one thing that Quinnipiac does fairly well its kill penalties at a clip of 84.1% (53-of-63) which ties them at 15th in the country.

Maine's defense has been a mixed bag this season. While they give up 3.21 goals per game (tied for 42nd nationally) there have been a handful of games they have looked good keeping the goals allowed down while there have been others where they have given up five plus goals (BU, UConn and Miami games). They do a good job at blocking shots with 14 blocked shots per game. They struggle with puck possession and that has lead to lapses on the defense. Granted they are lucky to have Jeremy Swayman back there or things could be worse. Maine has a lot of youth on the defense with four of their six defenseman to play in 10 games or more either freshman or sophomores. When this team struggles it takes bad penalties. Maine is averaging 17.50 penalty minutes per game which is by far most in the country and it has killed them this year putting the defense in vulnerable positions. They have the worst penalty kill in the country at 69.1% so for Quinnipiac to be successful it would be smart to get Maine to take a slew of penalties this weekend to get on the power play where they could potentially do damage.

Jeremy Swayman has been very good as a freshman in goal for the Black Bears. The Boston Bruins 4th round draft pick in 2017 has taken the starting job away from junior Rob McGovern and has a 5-3-1 record with a 2.38 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. At 6'2 he brings size in between the pipes but is active and will move out from the crease to cut off angles. He recently was named to the preliminary roster for the United States World Junior team. He will present a challenge to Quinnipiac that has had massive issues scoring goals this season.

Quinnipiac needs go into the first semester break with some momentum against a team that is pretty mirage image to them in terms of being Jekyll and Hyde on the season. In order to avoid being under .500 at the end of a first semester since the 2005-2006 season, Quinnipiac will need to sweep Maine this weekend.

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