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: 2/12/18

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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Scouting the Enemy: Brown Bears

Quinnipiac wraps up its weekend road trip with a visit to Providence, RI to take on Brown. The Bears have really struggled in the second half of the season with a 1-7-3 record. Overall they are 6-14-4 and the solid first half of the season looks to have been a mirage as Brown has reverted to its struggling ways. Quinnipiac is fresh off their first loss to Yale since the 2013 NCAA National Championship game and first regular season loss since February of 2011. 

Brown Key Players: Sam Lafferty (F), Tony Marchin (F), Charlie Corcoran (F), Tyler Bird (F), Brent Beaudoin (F), Alec Mehr (F), Tony Stillwell (D), Zach Giuttari (D), Gavin Nieto (G)

Bruno is averaging 2.21 goals per game which is worse from the last time these teams last played. They lost senior Max Willman after only 9 games with injury and he is expected to transfer elsewhere as a graduate student next season. Sophomore Beau Beaudoin is the team's leading scorer with 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists). Both Tommy Marchin (13 points) and Sam Lafferty (14 points) help pace the Bruno offense. Brown has a very limited offense and it has shown in the second half of the season. The struggles by Charlie Corcoran and the injury to Willman has not helped either. The Brown power play is 47th in the country at 15.79% (15-of-95) so they are not a huge threat on the man advantage.

The Brown defense hasn't been great this season giving up 3.21 goals per game. Collectively the unit is a minus 32 on the ice. The youth on the Brown blue line has taken a step back in the second half of the season. Tony Stillwell, Max Gottlieb and Zach Giuttari have given more offense than they have defense this season. Those three are in the top 6 in scoring for the Bears this season. Brown's focus should be trying to take away Odeen Tufto for Quinnipiac is he really is the cog that makes Quinnipiac go. With 12 multi point games and 33 points he is well on his way to a 40 point which would be the first for a Quinnipiac freshman since Sam Anas in the 2013-2014 season. The penalty kill for Brown has struggled as well at 78.5% (84-of-107) good for 47th in the country. Quinnipiac's power play scored two goals in the loss to Yale last night and has been better as of late.

Sophomore Gavin Nieto has really struggled this for Brown and got lit up for 5 goals last night against Princeton before being pulled in favor of freshman Luke Kania who has been better this season than Nieto with a .911 save percentage and a 2.72 goals against average. It was Kania who played against Quinnipiac back in November and gave up five goals in the loss. Nieto this season has a 3.52 goals against average with an .893 save percentage. I could see Brendan Whittet turning to Kania tonight even with his struggles against Quinnipiac basically for the mere fact that Nieto struggled against Princeton last night. Goaltending has not a strength of Brown this season and it has not been in awhile.

These are two huge points for Quinnipiac who need them in order to make a push for home ice in the first round of the ECAC tournament. The loss last night hurt pushing them a point behind Yale and into 9th place. A win tonight over Brown and a Yale loss puts Quinnipiac back into the 8th spot in the ECAC.

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Friday, February 9, 2018

Quinnipiac loses first game to Yale since 2013

Quinnipiac at Yale (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

For the first time since the 2013 NCAA National Championship game in Pittsburgh, the Yale Bulldogs defeated the Quinnipiac Bobcats in a game as they won 3-2 on Friday night at Ingalls Rink in New Haven to snap an 0-7-3 skid against their Whitney Avenue rivals. Yale's last regular season win over Quinnipiac dates back almost seven years when they won at Quinnipiac 6-1 on February 18, 2011 and the Bulldogs last home win over Quinnipiac since October 6, 2010 when they beat Quinnipiac 5-1.

While the Bobcats came out on the short end tonight it was another terrific night for freshman star Odeen Tufto with a goal and an assist to give him his 12th multi point game of the season. The Quinnipiac power play also excelled with both of the team's goal coming by way of the man advantage.

Junior Ted Hart was the star for the Bulldogs tonight but it was the Quinnipiac struggles of the second half of the second period that will come back to bite. Hart scored two goals three minutes apart turning a 2-1 Yale deficit into a 3-2 lead which they would not relinquish.

Yale sophomore Billy Sweezey scored his second career goal just over halfway into the opening period. In the final minute of the first Quinnipiac's Brandon Fortunato (1 goal, 1 assist) found the puck down low in the slot a fired one high stick side past Yale goaltender Sam Tucker on the power play. Once again in the second period Quinnipiac found itself on the power play when Odeen Tufto ripped one short-side past Tucker.

Quinnipiac at Yale (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

Keith Petruzzelli (27 saves) made many highlight reel saves especially in the second and third periods to keep the score close for Quinnipiac. The freshman flashed a quick glove along with strong pad saves and quick lateral movement in the crease showing why the Detroit Red Wings made him a 3rd round pick in the 2017 draft.

The chippy game featured 14 combined penalties including two embellishment calls. Chase Priskie and Bo Pieper each finished with an assist each as Quinnipiac fell to 11-14-4 (6-9-2 ECAC) and 9th in the conference standings while Yale with the win improves to 12-11-1 (7-9-1 ECAC) and is in 8th place, one point ahead of Quinnipiac for the final home ice spot. Quinnipiac now heads to Providence, Rhode Island tomorrow when they face Brown University at Meehan Auditorium.

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Logan Mick dismissed from Quinnipiac hockey team

Former men's ice hockey player Logan Mick

Logan Mick has been dismissed from the Quinnipiac hockey team. A source confirmed to the that Mick was suspended for last weekend's games. Another source confirmed he was indeed no longer on the hockey team as of this week. Mick played in 16 games for the Bobcats this season in which he had 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) and a plus 1 rating. The sophomore played in 22 career games for Quinnipiac with 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) and a plus 2 rating. He is the second Bobcat to get dismissed from Quinnipiac this season following the dismissal of forward Thomas Aldworth.

Quinnipiac is now down to 13 true forwards, 14 if you count Luke Shiplo who plays both ways. The depth of the team's forwards are surely to be tested the rest of the way. Quinnipiac now heads on the road to Yale and Brown this weekend.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Scouting the Enemy: Yale Bulldogs

It's that time again. Quinnipiac vs. Yale. While both teams are not at the top of the ECAC standings like in years past, this is a still a good rivalry with the two teams jockeying for position in the standings with the Bobcats and Bulldogs separated by one point for 8th and 9th place. After a 3-7 start to the season, Yale has gone 8-4-1 since December 2nd to come in with a record of 11-11-1. The Bulldogs however with be without head coach Keith Allain who has taken his talents to Pyeongchang, South Korea as an assistant coach for Team USA men's ice hockey. These two teams last met in Hamden on November 18th with Quinnipiac coming away with a 3-0 win. 

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

The Yale offense has struggled at times this season to a tune of only 2.74 goals per game which is good for 37th in the country. Its a similar offense to Quinnipiac where they are lacking some high end talent and consistency on the offensive end. Joe Snively is clearly the Bulldogs best forward with 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists). He is the primary guy that Quinnipiac cannot let beat them. Other key players for Yale include Ryan Hitchcock (15 points), Evan Smith (12 points), Dante Palecco (11 points) and Ted Hart (11 points). No team in the country has a worse power play than Yale. They have scored on 9 of 94 chances (9.57%) which is surprising since they do have some nice offensive pieces up front.

Yale's defense is much improved from early in the season as they give up 2.70 goals per game which is tied for 22nd in the country with Union. They have some good talent on the blue line with sophomore Bill Sweezey (Plus 3), junior Charlie Curti (Plus 7), junior Anthony Walsh (Plus 8) and freshman Phil Kemp (Plus 9). They have stabilized the defense from their early season struggles and have played much better since the beginning of December with a goals against sub 2.50. The strength of the defense is obviously on special teams with the penalty kill at a clip just a shade over 82% (83-of-101) which is 22nd in the country. This is clearly a much better defensive team that what Quinnipiac faced early in the season but without Keith Allain will they still have the same structure and discipline?

Junior goaltender Sam Tucker has a sub .900 save percentage at .899 in 16 games played with a 2.97 goals against average and he took the loss in the teams last meeting but was really good. Sophomore Corbin Kaczperski has been much better in 7 games played with a .933 save percentage and a 1.86 goals against average. He is 5-1 since December 30th while Tucker is 1-3-1. With Kaczperski playing much better than Tucker it wouldn't shock me to see him get the start against Quinnipiac as he probably gives Yale its best chance to win.

A win over Yale will give the Quinnipiac some breathing room for the 8th spot in the ECAC standings and could help propel them as high as the 5th spot. A loss puts them in 9th in the ECAC league standings.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Q&A with Quinnipiac commit Oscar Plandowski

Oscar Plandowksi

Quinnipiac recently picked up their second 2003 born commit in the last six weeks in OHA Edmonton Bantam defenseman Oscar Plandowski. This is following the commitment of 2003 forward Jack Silich back at the end of December. Plandowski is the fourth Quinnipiac commit to come out Nova Scotia. Coming from strong hockey blood lines the BobcatsHockeyBlog recently caught up with Oscar Plandowski to talk about his decision of choosing Quinnipiac, hockey in general among other things. Thanks to Oscar for taking the time to do this.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: First off congratulations. Tell us your emotions after making this decision.

Oscar PlandowskiI am extremely excited about the decision I made. Quinnipiac is a great school and I am thrilled to be apart of Bobcat Nation.

BobcatsHockeyBlogYour father Darryl was a very good college hockey player and the captain of the 1991 NCAA championship team at Northern Michigan that played in the wildest national championship game ever with an 8-7 win in triple overtime over Boston University. What did he tell you about that game and the feeling he had of winning of national title?

Oscar Plandowski: I’ve seen the highlights from that game and I have heard a lot about it from my Dad. It is one of his claim to fame and he is very proud about it. Obviously it is one of my dreams to accomplish what he did and I’m looking forward to an opportunity at that with Quinnipiac!

BobcatsHockeyBlog: With your father an amateur scout with Tampa Bay and your mother a power skating coach you must have been on the ice at a very young age. What have they both taught you in order to get to this point of your life to commit to a college to play hockey?

Oscar Plandowski:  My mom had me on the ice at a very young age and obviously taught me how to skate. My dad has always taught me the importance of hard work and skill. Both have taught me a lot and I wouldn’t be in this situation without them.

BobcatsHockeyBlogYour one of four commits from Nova Scotia to commit to Quinnipiac following Peter Diliberatore (2000), Ethan Phillips (2001) and Jacob Quillan (2002). How much did those players being committed to Quinnipiac play a part in your decision and have you played with them in the past?

Oscar Plandowski: That definitely played a huge role in my decision. I know Ethan and Jake very well and they are both great players and I have been on the ice with them many times. I talk to Ethan a lot and I really look up to him as a player. When he committed I set that as one of my goals for the future.

BobcatsHockeyBlogTell us about your overall recruiting experience. What other schools were interested in you before you committed to Quinnipiac?

Oscar PlandowskiI had been talking to Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota, and Providence and visited the latter two schools. The process was exciting but also nerve wracking at times and I left this process mostly up to my father and my adviser. I’m very happy with my choice in Quinnipiac and I am looking forward to the opportunity that lies ahead.

BobcatsHockeyBlogWhat went into your decision to move from the Nova Scotia Bantam League with Halifax Accel to OHA Edmonton in the CSSBHL?

Oscar Plandowski: There were many factors that went into play but the main reason was I wanted to make my game more complete overall. I had just made the switch from forward to defense when I went into with Accel. I really needed to work on my defensive game play. It was a big decision to leave but I think it has worked out well so far.

BobcatsHockeyBlogWhat were some of the reasons you made a change to defense after previously playing forward?

Oscar PlandowskiIt was honestly a very hard decision to make. I hadn’t really made up my mind until the day before tryouts. I had the opportunity to try defense that spring in a tournament and I liked it. And I haven’t looked back since.

BobcatsHockeyBlogTell us what are some of the strengths of your game?

Oscar PlandowskiI feel my biggest strength is my skating. I believe my skating is why I could make the transition from forward to defense like I did. In my opinion another strength of mine is my hockey IQ and making a good first pass.

BobcatsHockeyBlogWhat are some of the things in your game you want to improve upon?

Oscar PlandowskiSome skills in my game I am focusing on at the moment are my play in the defensive zone and power play poise. I am really looking forward to improving my strength this summer and getting stronger for next year.

BobcatsHockeyBlogIs there a player you try to model your game after.?

Oscar PlandowskiTwo players I try and model my game after are Cale Makar and Mikhail Sergachev. They both have amazing poise with the puck and have great two way play.

BobcatsHockeyBlogTell us the type of player that Quinnipiac will get on the ice in yourself?

Oscar PlandowskiThey will be getting a two way defenseman who has a lot of offensive upside along with a player who isn’t afraid to play physical and makes smart simple plays.

BobcatsHockeyBlogTell us what type of person the Quinnipiac community is getting off the ice?

Oscar PlandowskiI feel that the Quinnipiac community will be happy with the way I hold myself as a person. Good character is very important to me and I hold myself to a high standard.

BobcatsHockeyBlogWho are some of the role models in your life?

Oscar PlandowskiMy biggest role models are definitely my parents. My mom and dad have always supported me in everything I do. I look up to them for all the sacrifices they make to allow me to play hockey.

BobcatsHockeyBlogWhat are your plans over the next few years for your development? Do you expect to continue with OHA Edmonton? Do you eventually want to play in the USHL?

Oscar PlandowskiNext year I am going to be following in the footsteps of Ethan Phillips and play hockey at Selects Academy at the South Kent School in Connecticut. I haven’t decided where I want to play after that yet. The Selects program is a great chance to improve my game  and I am very excited for the opportunity.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: With Nova Scotia not having an NHL team do you have a favorite team in the league?

Oscar PlandowskiI am a big Tampa Bay Lightning fan.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: Off the ice what are some of the things you enjoy doing?

Oscar PlandowskiI spend most of my time off the ice with my friends. Whether it’s going to the lake or shooting pucks we do everything together. I spend lots of time in the summer at my friend Zach’s cottage. I am looking forward to seeing them when I get back.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Monday, February 5, 2018

In the Pipeline: 2/5/18

Quinnipiac had one of its strongest weekends of the season upsetting #3 Clarkson and beating St. Lawrence at home getting a much need four ECAC points in the process. Next up for Quinnipiac are road games against rival Yale and Brown. Currently in 8th place in the ECAC standings, the Bobcats need to secure some wins in order to get a solid position for the playoffs. Now lets take a look at how some of the future Bobcats did this week.

Ethan De Jong (photo by James Doyle/Prince George Citizen)

BCHL Commits

Michael Lombardi had one assist over the weekend in two games played. In 49 games played he has 33points (14 goals, 19 assists).

Ethan De Jong had a strong weekend with 4 assists in 3 games played. He had a goal and four assists and leads the team with 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) in 42 games played. He is #154 on the NHL central scouting list for North American skaters and the stronger he plays he could shoot his name up on the central scouting rankings prior to the draft.

T.J. Friedmann had a three point weekend for the Victoria Grizzlies with a goal and two assists in two games played. In 50 games played this season he has 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists).

USHL commits

William Fallstrom picked up one assist in two games played for the Fargo Force over the weekend. In 36 games, the Sweden native has 22 points (6 goals, 16 assists).

Justin Robbins made 20 saves in a 4-3 shootout loss for the Chicago Steel. On the season he is 3-3 with a 4.14 goals against average and an .867 save percentage in 10 games played.

AJHL commits

Matt Cassidy picked up one goal this weekend for the Brooks Bandits. On the season, Cassidy has 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists) in 41 games played.

Prep Schools/High Schools

Matthew Fawcett leads New England Prep hockey in scoring with 54 points (22 goals, 32 assists) in 20 games played. He is averaging 2.70 points per game this season.

NCDC commits

Gus Van Nes picked up another this past weekend. The Dutch born forward has 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists) in 39 games played this season.

Victor Czerneckianair (photo by Tim Brule)

Midget Commits

Victor Czerneckianair had three goals and two assists this past weekend for the U-15 Selects team at South Kent. In 45 games played this season he had 63 points (27 goals, 36 assists). The Southington, CT native is 3rd on the team in scoring and a possible candidate for the NDTP program.

Jake Quillan had a goal and three assists in three games played for the Steele Subaru Major Midgets. In 34 games played he has 44 points (14 goals, 30 assists).

Austin Spiridakis picked up an assist this weekend for the St. Albert Tire Warehouse Raiders. In 31 games played he has 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists).

Jack Silich had a goal and three assists this weekend for the Chicago Mission. On the season he has 76 points (28 goals, 48 assists).

Quinnipiac picked up a very good 2003 recruit in Oscar Plandowski who plays for OHA Edmonton Bantam Prep. In 13 games played the blue liner has 14 points (1 goal, 13 assists). Stay tuned this week for Q&A with him.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Quinnipiac sweeps weekend, downs St. Lawrence 5-2

Quinnipiac vs St. Lawrence (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)
Quinnipiac swept a weekend series for only the third time this season and just second in league play as the offense came alive in a 5-2 win over St. Lawrence Saturday night at Frank Perotti, Jr. Arena. Four players had multi point games for Quinnipiac who scored nine goals this weekend in securing four huge points in league play jumping to 8th place in the ECAC standings with 14 points.

"We played with a lot of passion and a lot of care, said head coach Rand Pecknold. It was nice to get the sweep at home this weekend." Quinnipiac played one of its best weekends of hockey of the season to improve to 11-13-4. The Bobcats didn't panic when St. Lawrence scored just over five minutes into the first period on a goal by Alex Gilmour. What they did next was take control of the game in the opening period and never looking back. They got the board when John Furgele fed Brogan Rafferty whose big shot changed direction when St. Lawrence forward Patrick Steinhauser's stick got in the way. Quinnipiac's star freshman Odeen Tufto then gave the Bobcats the lead when he went post to post past Arthur Brey. Not even a minute later Chase Priskie's sent a drop pass to Bo Pieper who fired it glove side past Brey. Three plus minutes later it was Pieper again who had to coral a Kevin Duane pass cross ice flipping it high stick side past Brey.

"These last few games felt like freshman and sophomore year when we made the NCAA tournament twice and the frozen four once, said Pieper. The passion and confidence play hand in hand and it starts in practice." The two goals by Pieper give him double figures in goals in back to back years. Quinnipiac extended the lead to 5-1 on the power play when Odeen Tufto made a nifty backhanded pass in front the crease to a wide open Rafferty who slid it past Brey.

Quinnipiac vs St. Lawrence (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)
The two goals by Rafferty was only his second multi point game of the season, the first coming back on November 28th against Princeton. "I think everyone has to keep each other accountable, said Rafferty. We have a good group in the locker room and this weekend showed it." St. Lawrence added a goal in the third period by Alex Gilmour as they fell to 6-20-2 on the season.

"It was a good weekend, Pecknold said. This is what we should be doing every game and it's how we played the last seven or eight years but we will see how play next weekend." Odeen Tufto had another multi point game (1 goal, 1 assist) and his fellow freshman teammate Matt Forchuk had the first multi point game of his career (2 assists). Andrew Shortridge made 22 saves for Quinnipiac who now travel to Yale and Brown next weekend.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Scouting the Enemy: St. Lawrence Saints

Its been a rough season for St. Lawrence in the second season of the Mark Morris era. The Saints are on pace for the worst season in program history. It has been a struggle for Morris with a lot of young players along with an inexperienced defense that only worsened when Ben Finkelstein transferred to Boston College. Prior to the season star goaltender Kyle Hayton transferred to Wisconsin. St. Lawrence had a weekend sweep last week against Brown and Yale only their second of the season. 

St. Lawrence Key Players: Jacob Pritchard (F), Mike Marnell (F), Joe Sullivan (F), Carson Gicewicz (F), Nolan Gluchowksi (D), Arthur Brey

This is an offense that has really struggled this season to a tune of 2.26 goals per game which is 52nd in the country. Two upperclassmen have 8 goals apiece in Jacob Pritchard and Joe Sullivan. Mike Marnell is another veteran contributor who has 9 goals and 16 points. Not a ton of freshman have stepped up to help the offense which has hurt them. At times they have lacked depth and even had to dip into the club roster for players due to injuries. The power play is just below the middle of the pack at 17% (17-of-100) good for is 40th in the country. Quinnipiac needs to make sure this game is played five on five because they don't need to give a team that struggles at scoring any man advantages where they could pot some goals.

Defensively it has been a rough go of it for St. Lawrence. It only got worse with the transfer of Ben Finkelstein. Senior Nolan Gluchowksi is the teams best defender with 16 points and is a minus six. Other than senior Matt Purmal the rest of the defensive core that plays is all freshman. Inexperience is a major issue back there and it has shown this season. They give up 3.44 goals per game which is 54th nationally. Freshman Jake Stevens (11 points) has been a solid find for them and probably has been one of their better defenseman. The St. Lawrence penalty kill is one of the worst in college hockey at 74.42% (96-of-129) good for 59th in the country. While Quinnipiac isn't very good on the power play getting on the man advantage would be a big help to winning this game.

Goaltender Arthur Brey has struggled this season with a 3.71 goals against average a sub .900 save percentage (.899). Last season he only played four games but was solid with a 2.08 goals against and a .935 save percentage. St. Lawrence was expecting more from Brey but he hasn't delivered this year. He was strong against Brown and Yale last weekend shutting out the Bulldogs on Saturday which was the first of his career. I wouldn't put all the blame on Brey as he has one of the youngest defenses in the ECAC in front of him taking their lumps.

This is a game Quinnipiac needs to pick up two points in because they clearly have the better team than St. Lawrence. If Brey plays like he did last weekend then it could give Quinnipiac some problems because the Bobcats have run into many hot goaltenders this season that have played above and beyond.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Quinnipiac upsets #3 Clarkson 4-1

Quinnipiac vs. #3 Clarkson (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

The Quinnipiac Bobcats men's ice hockey scored its biggest win of the season on Friday night when they upset the #3 ranked Clarkson Golden Knights at the Frank Perotti, Jr. Arena. Three nights after a 5-3 loss to Princeton in which Rand Pecknold characterized as one of the worst of his coaching career, Quinnipiac scored the first three goals of game en route to a 4-1 win over a team that has been one of the best in the country all season.

Quinnipiac kept the trio of Sheldon Rempal, Devin Brosseau and Nico Sturm who have combined for 80 points this season scoreless on the night. "I thought our battle level was great, said head coach Rand Pecknold. I thought the key to the game was in the first period when Keith [Petruzzelli] made that huge save on a two on one semi-breakaway. If he doesn't make that save and we are down 1-0 it might be a different game but we got that first goal and a lot of confidence."

The Bobcats opened the scoring just two minutes into the first period when Tanner MacMaster scored short side past Jake Kielly. It was a weak goal by Keilly who has been a rock this season for Clarkson but the goal gave Quinnipiac a lot momentum in this game.

In the second period, Quinnipiac played a little tic-tac-toe with MacMaster feeding Jermain cross ice who fed it to a wide open Tufto racing into the slot to slide it high past Kielly for the easy goal. With just under nine minutes left in the period it looked as if Clarkson finally got on the board when Devin Brosseau tapped one home after a scrum in front of Keith Petruzzelli (25 saves). The play went under review for a possible offside but the goal was reversed in lieu of too many men on the ice. With less than a minute left in the second period Alex Whelan raced down the half wall with the puck and sent a rocket short side past Kielly for his team leading 13th goal of the season extending the Quinnipiac lead to 3-0.

Quinnipiac vs. #3 Clarkson (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

Clarkson got on the board midway through the third period on Kevin Charyszyn's power play goal. While they put pressure on the Bobcats late in the period, Quinnipiac's strong defensive effort thwarted any Clarkson comeback. "It was an awesome win, said captain Chase Priskie. Its nice to get back on the right track and start playing Quinnipiac hockey. Everything we preached after the Princeton game we hammered it in this game and got our reward". Junior defenseman Brandon Fortunato scored the empty net goal with five seconds left to ice the victory. "

"I think the biggest thing tonight was the care and the passion, said Pecknold. The guys were excited to play a top five team in the nation and if we can bottle that and do that every night we are going to be a better hockey team."

Quinnipiac returns to the ice tomorrow when it faces the St. Lawrence Saints (6-19-2) at Frank Perotti, Jr. Arena.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Scouting the Enemy: Clarkson Golden Knights

We are already into February and Quinnipiac has yet to face any of the North Country teams. Well that is about to change this weekend when they welcome Clarkson and St. Lawrence to Hamden starting with the Golden Knights on Friday night. Clarkson has slumped a bit going 1-1-2 in their last four games to fall out of first place in the ECAC but with a record of 19-4-3 they are comfortably in position to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008. Quinnipiac is coming off a 5-3 home loss to Princeton in which they gave up three power play goals. The Bobcats now sit at 10th place in the ECAC standings and an overall record of 9-14-4. 

Clarkson Key Players: Sheldon Rempal (F), Nico Sturm (F), Devin Brosseau (F), Jack Jacome (F), Josh Dickinson (F), Terrance Amorosa (D), Kelly Summers (D), Jake Kielly (G)

The Golden Knights are a match-up nightmare for Quinnipiac. They possess a ton of fire power up front that can score consistently. They are 8th in the country in scoring at 3.38 goals per game. The top line of Rempal-Sturm-Brosseau has combined for 80 points this season. Sheldon Rempal leads the team with 30 points himself and has 114 shots on the season and is the player Quinnipiac needs to put the most focus on. Nico Sturm and Devin Brosseau have 25 points apiece while freshman Jack Jacome (22 points) is likely to push Quinnipiac's Odeen Tufto for ECAC rookie of the year down the stretch. Three other players have 20 or more points in defensemen Terrance Amorosa (21 points) and Kelly Summers (20 points) while freshman forward Josh Dickinson has 20 points including 12 goals. This is another power play that can kill you as they are 5th in the country at just over 26% (30-of-115). Quinnipiac gave up three power plays to Princeton on Tuesday night and the talent that Clarkson has is better overall.

Clarkson is a strong defensive team giving up 1.54 goals per game which is second in the country behind ECAC leader Cornell. They block shots with over 13 per game. Every one of their blue liners is a plus player. There are not a lot of holes in the Clarkson defense. They are getting strong play from upperclassmen in seniors Terrance Amorosa (plus 15) and Kelly Summers (plus 12). Junior Aaron Thow is a plus 15. Quinnipiac has major scoring issues and expect Clarkson to be able to take away any time and space from the Bobcats in this game as they have very few options offensively. The Golden Knights are strong on the penalty kill at almost 87% (100-of-115) good for 7th overall in the country while Quinnipiac has struggled for much of this season on the man advantage.

Goaltender Jake Kielly has taken his game to another this season. A year after posting a 2.56 goals against average and a .911 save percentage as a freshman, he has exploded as a sophomore to a tune of a 1.59 goals against average and a .940 save percentage. He has been a brick wall for the Golden Knights this season. He really has had only one bad game this season when he gave up six goals to Harvard in a 6-6 tie but other than that he has been very good if not great all season. A year ago Quinnipiac only saw Kielly once and he beat the Bobcats 4-2 in Hamden.

On paper this is a major mismatch in favor of Clarkson. They do everything better than Quinnipiac. They excel on special teams. They have a strong defense and goal-tender and have played much more consistently for this season than Quinnipiac. For Quinnipiac to win this game its going to need strong goal-tending and some puck luck to go their way because they are just out manned talent wise against Clarkson in pretty much every area.

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