Wednesday, April 10, 2019

StickTalk Podcast: Previewing the Frozen Four


With the Frozen Four set to kick off tomorrow in Buffalo, the college hockey season is coming to a pinnacle this weekend. UMass, Denver, Minnesota Duluth and Providence will battle it out for the National Championship. This week, I joined Mike Flanagan once again on the StickTalk podcast to discuss the end of the Quinnipiac season, along with recapping the regionals and previewing the Frozen Four with our picks for the semifinals and the winner of the National Championship. Have a listen prior to the games kicking off tomorrow.


StickTalk Podcast Episode 8


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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Jonah Copre commits to Quinnipiac

Jonah Copre with the Chicago Mission

Quinnipiac headed back to one of the elite programs in the Midwest to pick up its most recent commit. 2003 born defensemen Jonah Copre of the Chicago Mission U-15 team verbally committed to the Bobcats on Monday. He is the second '03 born Mission player to commit to Quinnipiac following to prior commitment of Jack Silich back in December of 2017. Its another great indication that the Quinnipiac staff will go recruit prospects this young in the Midwest where teams such as Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin tend to dominate.

I’m proud and honored to announce my commitment to play Division 1 hockey and further my education at Quinnipiac University. I’d like to thank my family, coaches and trainers, the Chicago Mission hockey club, and teammates for helping me get to this point.

Jonah Copre to Q. Prototypical, athletic puck mover. Undersized but unafraid. Swarms to defend. Can fly. First step to escape pressure, supports the puck. Great vision w/stick skills carry & to get passes through. Great on the PP. A-/B+ at U15 Nationals.

Copre, native a of Elgin, IL is a 5'5, 143 pound right shot defensemen. In 20 High Performance Hockey League games he had 23 points on 4 goals and 19 assists. His full season statistics are not known at this time. This is his third season with the Mission program after having been with Team Illinois in the 2014-2015 season. His commitment is either for the 2021-2022 season or 2022-2023 depending on development.


Links

EliteProspects Player Page
HPHL Statistics


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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Q&A with Quinnipiac commit Matthew McGroarty

Matthew McGroarty, left playing for the Brunswick School (photo by John McGreary, Hearst CT Media)


Quinnipiac may have ended its season on the ice in tough fashion losing 3-1 to the defending national champion Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs in the Midwest Regional Final. While the season is over for the players that doesn't mean the coaches are done either as they are making preparations for next season along with plans of what individual players need to improve upon along with filling out next years roster with new players coming in. Here at the blog we are the same way. If news breaks we will report it, if we have blog articles to put out we put them out. Two weeks ago Quinnipiac picked up a local player with the news that Westport, Connecticut native Matthew McGroarty committed to the Bobcats. I had a chance to do a Q&A with Matthew to talk all things hockey with him. Thanks to Matthew for taking the time for this question and answer piece.


BobcatsHockeyBlog: First off Matthew, Congratulations. What you are your thoughts and emotions like after making this decision to commit to Quinnipiac?

Matthew McGroarty: Thank you very much. Honestly I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say and almost started crying on the phone with coach Rand Pecknold. But as of now, I am committed to a dream school of mine. But I need to focus on getting bigger, faster, and stronger so I can be ready to play at the collegiate level as soon as I can.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: Tell us about your overall recruiting process. When did Quinnipiac first reach out to you, to show their interest in you joining the program in the future?

Matthew McGroarty: They first showed interest when I played in their recruiting camp in the summer and they showed a bit of interest from there. Then I visited the amazing campus a few weeks later and then they gave me the call three weeks ago with an offer.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: What other programs showed interest in you as a player? A source told me that some Hockey East teams were in on you.

Matthew McGroarty: There were other programs that did show interest in me such as Boston College, Union and Colgate but I obviously liked Quinnipiac the most.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: Was playing close to a home a factor in your decision to commit to Quinnipiac?

Matthew McGroarty: Yes for sure. My family is a huge part of my life and it is extremely important to me, so I loved the fact that they could easily drive the 30-40 minutes to see me play because really, I couldn’t have done this without them.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: You were coached by an NHL Hall of Fame player in Marty St. Louis with the Mid-Fairfield midget program. What did you learn from him that has made you the player you are right now with a Division I commitment?

Matthew McGroarty: He’s the best coach I’ve ever had by far. If I didn’t have him as a coach, I don’t think I’d be committed to a Division I school. He has taught me almost everything I know about hockey to this point. A few things that he’s taught me are that hard work always beats talent and that nothing comes easily, not just in hockey, but in life, so in order to achieve your goals, you need to give 110% all of the time.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: You currently play prep hockey at the Brunswick School. How has your time gone there as a player?

Matthew McGroarty: I’ve been at Brunswick for the last two seasons. The first season myself, Paul Davey (Boston College), and Ryan St. Louis (Northeastern) were just freshman so we didn’t get that much playing time. But this past season, I played a lot more comfortable with the pace and skill of the prep school level games. I also played on the first power play with those guys and players like Charles Shaffer and Cooper Moore really helped me grow my offensive game.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: What are your goals the next two seasons at the Brunswick School?

Matthew McGroarty: One of my goals, as I said before, is to get much bigger, faster, and stronger as well as develop my game in all aspects so I can be ready for my time at Quinnipiac. But on top of that, I’m really focusing on increaseing my production rates because as a true junior next year, I need to produce a lot more points.

BobcatsHockeyBlog:  Tell us about your overall game as a player. What are some of your strengths?

Matthew McGroarty: One of my main strengths, as a center, is my defensive ability. But also I think I play with high pace and that I’m strong on the puck. I rarely use anything flashy, but I like to take the puck hard to the net and score dirty goals. So as a player, I want my coach to trust me at all times and areas of the game.

BobcatsHockeyBlog:  Outside of getting bigger, stronger and faster what are some areas of your game you want to improve upon?

Matthew McGroarty: I want to improve the scoring and play making ability part of my game which will hopefully in turn, increase my point production as a player.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: Is it your plan to play through your senior year at Brunswick or do you think you may head to the junior route prior to graduating?

Matthew McGroarty: That is something I have been discussing with my adviser and my parents a lot of recently. As of now I don’t have an answer to that, but depending on how the Brunswick season goes next year, then a decision will be made for my senior year.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: Has the Quinnipiac coaching staff projected when you would arrive? I have you projected for 2022-2023 with you playing possibly two more years at Brunswick and a season of juniors.

Matthew McGroarty: That sounds like the right number of years. They said depending on the decision with Brunswick, they want me to play a year of juniors and see how that goes.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: Is there a player that you try to model your game after?

Matthew McGroarty: I definitely try to play like Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, not only does he light it up with a ton of points every year, he’s heavily relied on defensively for the Bruins. So I definitely try to play like him.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: To this point in your life who has been your biggest influence to get to this point?

Matthew McGroarty: I think my biggest influence would be either my father or Marty St. Louis because they both taught me things about not only hockey, but about life as well and I couldn’t thank them enough for that.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: What should the Quinnipiac community expect from you as a person on and off the ice?

Matthew McGroarty: I think on the ice Quinnipiac should expect a leader, someone who cares more about his teammates than himself, and someone who wants to push everyone to the best of their ability. Off the ice I think the Quinnipiac community should expect someone who’s a nice, caring person, that is always around to help out.

BobcatsHockeyBlog:  What do you like to do when you are not on the ice playing hockey?

Matthew McGroarty: I really like to hang out with my friends. I’m a pretty social guy so being with my friends is always a lot of fun.


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Monday, April 1, 2019

Brogan Rafferty signs with Vancouver Canucks

Brogan Rafferty signed with the Vancouver Canucks

One day after its season came to an end in the Midwest Regional Final at the hands of the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, the underclassmen exodus has begun in Hamden. Junior defensemen Brogan Rafferty signed a one-year entry level contract with the Vancouver Canucks per a press release by the organization.

Rafferty leaves Quinnipiac after posting a 24 point season on four goals and 20 assists in 38 games which was seventh best on the team in scoring. He assisted on Craig Martin's goal in the Midwest Regional Final loss to UMD. In 116 games played for the Bobcats, Rafferty finishes his career in Hamden with 65 points on 10 goals and 55 assists.

Congrats to Brogran on this great accomplish and best of luck with the Canucks organization. Stay with the BobcatsHockeyBlog for all news of potential underclassmen signings.


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Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 3-1 season ending loss to Minnesota Duluth in the Midwest Regional Final

Quinnipiac fell 3-1 to Minnesota Duluth in the Midwest Regional Final

Another season of Quinnipiac hockey has come to an end and despite coming up one game short of the Frozen Four, this was a magical season that began with little expectations of reaching of regional final. Quinnipiac fell to the defending national champion Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs 3-1 on Sunday night in Allentown, PA to finish the season 26-10-2 while Minnesota Duluth will head to its third straight Frozen Four in Buffalo. Here are my thoughts and observations from the game.

- It was a tough way to see the season end but in reality the better team won this game. Minnesota Duluth is the defending champions for a reason as they play the game the right way. Duluth played the game on their terms right from the get go. It was apparent in the first period this was going to be a major grind for Quinnipiac. The Bobcats are at their best when they are playing from ahead and even though there was no score in the first period along with no score most of the second period, it seemed like they were chasing them all game despite the scored being tied. Duluth loves to slow the game down and play at a methodical pace and they smothered Quinnipiac into submission. They have some high end defensemen that retrieve pucks, move pucks quickly out of the zone and out muscle opponents in the neutral zone. They rarely gave Quinnipiac any time and space and without that the Bobcats couldn't get anything going.

- Quinnipiac played better in the third period and had some nice looks but just couldn't finish their chances especially with some open nets. They didn't really challenge Hunter Shepard much in this game but much of that was due in part to the Duluth defense which is outstanding. Scott Perunovich, Dylan Samberg and Mikey Anderson are all really sound and skilled players. All three of them should be in the NHL within the next couple of years.

- I'm really impressed with the way Duluth plays their game as I don't get to watch this team very often here in the east but they are as good as any team I have seen in the past couple of years. They are well coached behind the bench with Scott Sandelin running the show. He's the best coach remaining in the NCAA tournament in my opinion and Duluth should be favored to win the title in Buffalo.

- This team doesn't have anything to be ashamed about. They won 26 games, reached the Midwest Regional Final, won a share of the Cleary Cup all while being picked 8th in the ECAC preseason polls and having 13 freshman on the roster. It was an outstanding season and one not many people saw coming from outside that locker room. These players restored the Quinnipiac culture and they should be proud of that regardless of the loss to Minnesota Duluth. I think this may be my third favorite season behind the 2015-2016 season and 2012-2013 season.

- One thing that I hope that comes of this loss are possible future games against Duluth. I hope that Rand Pecknold and Scott Sandelin at least discussed that possibility after last nights game. Adding a power house team like Duluth to a future schedule would be a coup for Quinnipiac as you want to be able to consistently play against the best teams in the country and frankly most of the best teams arise in the NCHC having won the last three national championships.

- I tweeted this last night and I will say it again. I think that if Brandon Fortunato does not go down with a season ending injury that Quinnipiac would have reached the Frozen Four. He was that important this team and you saw that the teams fortunes changed with that injury. Prior to the injury Quinnipiac was 20-5-1 and a possible #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. After his injury they went 6-5-1 and ended up in the same region as the defending national champions. The power play also suffered as when he was healthy it was over 28% and without him that dropped to just over 17%. Quinnipiac probably would not have had to face Minnesota Duluth in a regional had Fortunato not gotten hurt and we probably would be making plans for Buffalo right now but that is sports and injuries happen. There was just no possible way they were going to replace a player of Fortunato's caliber that late in the season.

- Not only did the injury to Fortunato hurt to the team I think it affected Chase Priskie's play as well. I don't think anything less of Priskie, but when Fortunato went down he really had to assume more defensive responsibility and his offensive game suffered as a result. In the ten games he played since Fortunato went down, he had six points on three goals and three assists but six of his last eight games he was held off the score sheet. Without Fortunato, teams could likely key more on Priskie in order to limit the Bobcats offensive game. Priskie will go down as one of the best players ever to play at Quinnipiac and he should have a really solid professional career.

- Craig Martin's power play goal was the teams first since February 22nd in a 7-2 win against St. Lawrence. However it came with an extra attacker as Rand Pecknold pulled the goaltender to give Quinnipiac a 6 on 4 advantage. It just shows you how difficult of a time they had on the power play once Fortunato went down.

- It was a tough ending to the season for the Quinnipiac top line of Odeen Tufto, Wyatt Bongiovanni and Ethan de Jong as they were held scoreless in their last four games. Last night they struggled to fight through traffic against a strong Minnesota Duluth fore check but we have to remember two of these players are freshman and there are going to be struggles. Unfortunately for Quinnipiac, it happened at the wrong time late in the season. They will learn from this experience and will get better as a result of it.

- Andrew Shortridge was really good last night and kept Quinnipiac within striking distance in this game. He made 23 saves on the night and made some really nice saves. The first goal he almost got to while the second one came on an odd man rush that I wouldn't fault him on. Usually odd man rushes lead to goal unless the offensive team screws it up. In that instance Minnesota Duluth didn't screw it up. Shortridge had an outstanding year for this team and was one of the big reasons they won 26 games this year. He's one of the best goalies to put on a Quinnipiac jersey following Eric Hartzell and Michael Garteig. If this was his last game in a Quinnipiac uniform he did everything he could to try to lead the Bobcats to victory. It just wasn't in the cards.

- The foundation for future success has been laid. Now they just need to add some more talent around that foundation in order for this team to take the next step to get back to the Frozen Four. However we need to see which players return as Andrew Shortridge, Brogan Rafferty and Karlis Cukste all could depart for professional contracts. If all return then Quinnipiac should be in good shape though it two or all of them leave then the back end of the Bobcats will have been pretty much gutted.


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