Monday, December 2, 2019

Weekend in Review: Quinnipiac vs. Massachusetts

Quinnipiac split a weekend series with #10 UMass

The first half of the season officially came to an end on Saturday as Quinnipiac ended the first half on a high note with a 2-1 win over UMass Amherst snapping the 16 game unbeaten streak of the Minutemen at the Mullins Center in the process. The team finished the first half 7-7-1 after a weekend split against UMass and there are areas where the team should be encouraged with. Here are my thoughts and observations from the weekend series.

- Quinnipiac played hard on Friday despite losing 3-0 and had some bad breaks in the game which UMass was able to capitalize on. The two teams played a period and a half of scoreless before the Minutemen broke through on a redirected goal by Keith Petruzzelli. UMass next scored via a power play on an undisciplined play by Joe O'Connor who took an unnecessary slashing penalty. UMass captain Mitchell Chaffee sealed the victory with a short handed empty net goal.

- Despite the loss of Cale Makar among others, UMass still has a really solid team this year that should challenge for another NCAA tournament berth. They play hard and didn't quit Saturday despite trailing by two goals. While they probably won't reach the same heights as last season, they are still building something special under Greg Carvel in Amherst for a program that should be really good for years to come. 

- The ECAC officials were awful in this game letting this game become chippy to the point of being borderline out of control. The non-call to the head of Quinnipiac's William Fallstrom was flat out embarrassing as Fallstrom never returned to the game and missed the following nights game. These are plays that need to be called correctly. That should have been a five minute power play for Quinnipiac and the result of this was the O'Connor slashing penalty leading to the second goal for UMass.

- Despite losing this game, Keith Petruzzelli stood out with some really spectacular play and he carried that into the following night when he helped win a big game on the road when the Bobcats were desperate. He stopped 52 shots on the weekend as both his goals against average and save percentage continue to trend in the right direction. The hope is that the break won't stop the momentum the junior has right now as he has really been a strong presence in between the pipes.

- The defense has really turned the corner in my mind. They went into the season talented but very inexperienced but the play by the blue line over the weekend was very solid especially on Saturday night. They are retrieving pucks and moving them out of the zone quickly. While there is an occasional turnover here and there, the way they have played the last six games should be a plus for the second half of the season.

- Quinnipiac's offensive struggles were on display again this past weekend as they just scored two goals the entire weekend. The offense was suppose to be one of the teams strengths but they are really hurting the team right now. While they have a lot of young players, the sophomores who were freshman a season ago haven't built off what they did last season. They need more from the players up front if they want to make a second half run and be a dangerous team in conference play.

- The power play is still having issues and Quinnipiac needs to use the break in order to figure a way to get that corrected as they can't continue to be in the 12% range on the man advantage. They have been slow moving the puck and not getting quality shots off. Good to great power plays excel at moving the puck quickly and not having a lot of indecision with the puck which is what is happening now with Quinnipiac.

- One area Quinnipiac has excelled with is winning face-offs. The face-off win percentage is at 54.4% which ties them for 5th in the country with Alaska. They need to is use that to their advantage to create puck possession in the offensive zone which will lead to more quality scoring chances.

- Next on tap for Quinnipiac is a home and home with the Princeton Tigers on December 28th and 29th. These next three weeks will hopefully get the Bobcats in a better place mentally and physically so they can attack in the second half come the end of Decemeber.


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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Weekend Preview: Massachusetts Minutemen

Ethan de Jong and Quinnipiac have a home and home series with Massachusetts

UMass Head Coach: Greg Carvel (4th season)

2018-2019 UMass record: 8-3-1 (4-3-1 Hockey East)

All-time vs. UMass: Quinnipiac leads series 8-5-2

UMass Key Players: Mitchell Chaffee (F), John Leonard (F), Bobby Trivigno (F), Oliver Chau (F), Reed Lebster (F), Zac Jones (D), Colin Felix (D) Marc Del Gaizo (D), Matt Murray (G), Filip Lindberg (G)

No team had a bigger turnaround in the 2018-2019 season than Massachusetts. A season after winning just 17 games, the Minutemen improved by 14 wins to set a program record with 31. They also made the first ever Frozen Four in program history but fell short of the National Championship when Minnesota Duluth beat them in the title game to repeat as champions. Cale Makar has departed after a 49 point season which culminated in the Hobey Baker Award. They also lost Mario Ferraro early to the pros while key forward Jacob Pritchard and Brett Boeing graduated. Massachusetts still returns a ton of talent to a team that is likely to reach the NCAA tournament again.

Losing Jacob Pritchard was big for Massachusetts but they returned a lot of talent up front. Mitchell Chaffee already has 10 goals in 12 games played this season including three power play goals. John Leonard is also off to another good start with seven goals while Oliver Chau who had a down season last year already has eight points. Massachusetts is getting some good freshman production from Reed Lebster and Cal Kiefiuk who each have seven points. The Minutemen power play has struggled this season much like Quinnipiac's and that will happen when you lose players like Cale Makar and Mario Ferraro. They are right behind Quinnipiac in power play percentage at just a shade over 13%.

While a defensive drop was expected a bit with the losses of Makar and Ferraro, it has not been that much as the Minutemen are tied for 10th in the country in goals allowed at 2.08. Freshman Zac Jones is the teams second leading scorer with 11 points while sophomores Ty Farmer, Colin Felix and freshman Matthew Kessel provide solid depth. They have been solid defensively and this has been without their best returning defensemen in the lineup, Marc Del Gaizo who has played only two games this season. When he gets back to full health, this defense should be even better. The penalty kill is an area when Massachusetts has excelled this season at 88.7% which is 8th best in the country. Expect the Minutemen to make it hard on a Quinnipiac offense that has been struggling to score goals this season fight and claw for every inch of the ice this weekend.

The Minutemen have probably the best goalie tandem in the country between Matt Murray and Filip Lindberg. They are pretty even statistically so its essentially a coin flip who Greg Carvel will go with. Matt Murray has the better goals against at 1.84 compared to 1.97 for Lindberg but its the save percentage where Lindberg has Murray beat at .915 compared to .902. The save percentage numbers are down for the two of them but when you lose players like Makar and Ferraro that should be expected.

These are two different teams than the ones that split a series last year and while Massachusetts may not be as good as last year, they still look like they are an NCAA team while Quinnipiac has shown inconsistent play from week to week and hasn't looked like a team that will be playing in late March. At this point in the season with how the Bobcats have played and who they have lost to, these could be considered must win games if this team wants any chance at an at-large tournament berth. Otherwise the only path might be to win the league tournament in Lake Placid.


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Monday, November 25, 2019

Q&A with Quinnipiac commit Ty Smilanic

Ty Smilanic signing his national letter of intent with Quinnipiac (photo by USNTDP)

Quinnipiac received the biggest commitment in program history on November 20th when one of the top uncommitted 2002 U.S. born players in Ty Smilanic made his college decision official by choosing Quinnipiac over teams such as North Dakota along with a few other unknown programs. Smilanic is by far the best player ever to commit to Quinnipiac and could be the first player drafted in the first round of the NHL draft to ever come to Hamden when the draft commences in June of 2020. Smilanic is currently finishing his last year of junior hockey with prestigious United States National Team Development Program which is a collection of the best American born players in the U-18 and U-17 age brackets. Thank you to Ty for taking time out of his schedule to do this Q&A so Bobcat Nation can get to know the newest member of the 2020-2021 roster.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: First off congratulations on signing your national letter of intent with Quinnipiac.  What are your emotions like after making your college decision?

Ty Smilanic: I'm pretty happy to have the whole situation just behind me and couldn’t be more happy with my decision right now. I am just soaking up all the emotions right now.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: How did this whole process come about? I must say this came out of left field and was one of the most shocking, yet satisfying commitments in Quinnipiac history.

Ty Smilanic: I took a visit to the campus and just fell in love with the school, the coaching staff, and just all the players. They made me feel like home and made me feel appreciated.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: Your the first grade A prospect that Quinnipiac ever landed in the programs Division I history. Was there anything specific that the coaching staff told you that made you say that Quinnipiac will be my future college destination?

Ty Smilanic: It wasn’t necessarily anything they said, but I could tell that they cared about me as a person and as a player. I felt that with how much they cared, this was the best place for me to develop on and off the ice.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: Quinnipiac has recently put some good players in the NHL such as Devon Toews with the New York Islanders and Connor Clifton with the Boston Bruins but none as highly touted as you. In my opinion, I feel that the Quinnipiac coaching staff is a staff that could get the most out of you as a player during your time at Quinnipiac in helping you prepare for the professional level. Is that something you would agree with as they have taken lesser talent and hidden gems and really developed it into NHL players?

Ty Smilanic: Hundred percent. I couldn’t agree more myself. The way they have been developing players in recent years is astonishing and I can’t wait to be a part of that myself. With a coaching staff that cares as much as they do and a hockey player that loves the game as much as I do, that’s a recipe for a lot of good things to come.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: This is a program that has been to two Frozen Fours and five NCAA tournaments since 2013 but has yet to land a potential first round pick until you committed. Do you feel that you as a player committing to Quinnipiac will open that door where other United States National Team Development Program players who are potential high to mid round picks will look to consider Quinnipiac in future years?

Ty Smilanic:  I didn’t really commit to Quinnipiac to open doors for the future, that wasn’t really my motivation. My motivation was to play with the players that I got to meet and to get coached by the coaches I met. However, if me coming here does open doors in the future for more players to follow my path, hopefully that just means good things for this program.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: Your playing for Seth Appert who formally coached RPI in the ECAC. What is he like as a coach and it seems like he has really developed some kids in the past few years with many first round picks especially last year?

Ty Smilanic: He is actually a big reason for me opening my eyes to Quinnipiac. In these two years he’s developed me to become more of a complete player and I am very thankful to have a coach like that. I see a lot of similarities between coach Appert and coach Pecknold.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: Your scouting report is this. Powerful stride with separational speed, puts defenders on their heels and can launch the puck on goal. Skilled and strong and responsible defensively. On paper that is a pretty strong scouting report of you but are their any areas of your game that you feel that need to be improved upon before reaching Hamden?

Ty Smilanic: I want to be a complete 200-foot player that can be trusted in any situation of the game. So I need to work on my defensive zone play so that is probably the biggest thing for sure.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: Is their a player in today’s game that you try to model your game after and if so why?

Ty Smilanic: Being from Colorado, I love watching Nathan MacKinnon. I love how he plays the game with so much speed and plays every shift with so much competitiveness. He is for sure the player I try to model my game after.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: To this point in your life, who has been your biggest influence to get you to this point of playing college hockey and on the brink of being a high NHL draft pick?

Ty Smilanic: Without a doubt I have to give that one to my parents. They were the ones that drove me to the rink every day and were at every single game growing up. I wouldn’t be anywhere that I am today without them.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: What’s it like having scouts from 31 NHL teams consistently watching you and at this point in the season have you had a ton of contact with them?

Ty Smilanic: Yes I have talk to a good amount of NHL teams. It is nerve-racking but I’ve learned as time is going on that I just need to play my game and the rest will figure itself out. I love having the pressure on me as it makes me play at a higher level.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: What should the Quinnipiac community expect from Ty Smilanic on and off the ice?

Ty Smilanic: I'm just a really smiley kid that loves to play the game of hockey and loves to play the game really fast. I am also willing to do whatever it takes to get Quinnipiac the first National Championship in program history.

BobcatsHockeyBlog: What does Ty Smilanic like to do when he is not playing hockey?

Ty Smilanic: I love spending time with my family. Whether that’s going to a sporting event together or just spending a night on the couch watching television. They have built me to the person I am today and continue to this day keep making me a better person.

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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Weekend in Review: Cornell/Colgate

Rand Pecknold's team was swept on the weekend in upstate New York (file photo)
It was a lost weekend for the Quinnipiac Bobcats men's ice hockey as they got swept in upstate New York against Cornell and Colgate by scores of 2-1 and 3-1 respectively. After a home sweep last weekend, the hope was for Quinnipiac to at least get a split of the weekend series before the final two games of the first half of the season this weekend against Massachusetts. Here are my thoughts of the weekend that was for Quinnipiac hockey.

- Despite the loss Friday night, I thought Quinnipiac played its best game of the season. They went toe to toe with the number two team in their building and came up short by a single goal. Quinnipiac competed hard and never gave up against a more talented Big Red team that has a team that can reach the Frozen Four in Detroit this year. The officiating in this game wasn't good and William Fallstrom should have been assessed a two minute penalty not a five minute major on his hit late in the third period. Even though they lost, this game will help Quinnipiac in the long run as they look to become a better team in the second half of the season.

- Saturday night was another story. A game that Quinnipiac really needed to have they lost it. They got behind against Colgate, though tied it on the power play yet let in two third period goals including an empty net one to finish the weekend with zero ECAC points. That isn't a great Colgate team they played either but they had more jump in their step than Quinnipiac did.

- Captain Nick Jermain tied his career high with five goals with a goal in the Cornell game. That number should be eclipsed by a bunch by the time the season ends barring good health. Jermain reminds me of former Quinnipiac captain Cory Hibbeler as they both good leaders who were similar sized players that didn't score a ton as they did the little things in order to win.

- I've criticized the inconsistent play of Keith Petruzzelli at times but he was by far the best player this weekend for Quinnipiac. He kept the Bobcats in the game against Cornell with 20 saves with a few highlight ones and Saturday he was strong again with 22 saves including more highlight ones. This is four really solid games in a row for Petruzzelli who looks like he is becoming more comfortable each time out on the ice.

- Petruzzelli was more than good enough for the Bobcats to win this weekend but the offense for Quinnipiac which was expected to be a strength is failing this team. Two goals on the weekend just isn't going to cut it and one of them came on the man advantage. Friday I can excuse the one goal against a stout Cornell team with the best goaltender in the league. But Saturday one goal against a Colgate team that is sub .500 is inexcusable. The offense looked like it had heavy feet and they weren't playing well together. They had 34 shots on goal but not a ton of grade A chances. They may have to shuffle the lineup to see if things can get going because the month of November has not been kind to Quinnipiac as an offense as they have only scored three goals in a game twice this month.

- The power play is still having massive issues. They went zero for five on Friday night before going one for four on Saturday against Colgate. There is a lot of indecision on the power play along with slow passes and not a lot of shots. This gives the opponents easier opportunities to clear the puck and less time in the offensive zone. 

- The defense on this team is starting to come around. They are blocking shots as the defenders blocked 13 shots on the weekend. They are starting to move the puck out of the zone along with playing smart in their own end. Expect this defense to continue to get better as the season progresses as they have talent back on the blue line though it is inexperienced.

- Its the final two games of the first half, Quinnipiac will have a big challenge when they face the 2019 National Runner-Up in Massachusetts. Despite losing Cale Makar to the NHL, the Minutemen still return a strong team that is experienced and knows how to win games. They also have two really good goaltenders they can turn to and are well coached by Greg Carvel. This will be a big challenge for Quinnipiac and with the way the Bobcats are playing right now especially on offense, I think getting a split would be good accomplishment and a good way to end the first half of the season.

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Weekend Preview: Cornell/Colgate

Keith Petruzzelli, the reining ECAC goaltender of week has a big test against Cornell

Cornell Head Coach: Mike Schaefer (25th Season)

2018-2019 Cornell record: 6-0 (4-0 ECAC)

All-time vs. Cornell: Cornell leads 22-17-4

Cornell Key Players: Morgan Barron (F), Cam Donaldson (F), Max Andreev (F), Michael Regush (F), Brendan Locke (F), Yanni Kaldis (D), Sam Malinski (D), Alex Green (D), Matthew Galajda (G)

Quinnipiac has what likely will be their biggest test of the season when they travel to Lynah Rink to face #2 Cornell who are also #1 in the pairwise rankings. The preseason ECAC pick to win the league, the Big Red are also one of the teams that has a real chance to get to Detroit for the Frozen Four. This has a chance to be the best Cornell team since 2003 when they reached the Frozen Four. They are that talented as they are a team that can score, play defense and have a top goaltender. Factor in a home ice advantage and this will surely be a difficult match-up on paper for Quinnipiac.

The Big Red have the second best offense in the county at 4.83 goals per game behind the Harvard Crimson. Led by junior Morgan Barron who is off to a blazing start with 12 points in six games, Cornell features seven players averaging more than a point per game. Brendan Locke and Max Andreev each have seven points on two goals and five assists. Cam Donaldson and Michael Regush are off to good starts as well with six and five points respectively. Prized freshman commit Matt Stienburg a third round pick of the Colorado Avalanche has yet to get going with only one assist in six games. Cornell has by far the best power play in the country with a deadly 42.3% conversion rate. It is imperative that Quinnipiac stays disciplined and out of the penalty box. 

The Cornell defense is also one of the stingiest in the country giving up just 1.67 goals per game. Pre-Season All-ECAC first team pick Yanni Kaldis has gotten better each and every season he has been in Ithaca. The senior captain has six points but it has been his fellow defensemen in freshman Sam Malinski (9 points, plus 8) and Alex Green (7 points, plus 4) that have really elevated this team on the defensive end. Junior defensemen Matt Cairns hasn't yet broke out offensively but has been very steady with a plus five rating. The most shocking stat for Cornell is their struggles on the penalty kill at just 70% for the season. For a team that prides itself defensively this is a number that needs to improve if they want to make a deep tournament run this year.

Matthew Galajda couldn't match his freshman year statistics but could you really expect him to? After posting a 1.51 goals against and a .939 save percentage as a freshman, Galajda had a slight drop-off to a 1.85 goals against and a .921 save percentage as a sophomore. The junior is off to a stellar start once again with a 1.67 goals against and a .926 save percentage in six games and is the backbone of the Big Red. He should be someone who sees serious NHL interest in the spring.

Colgate Head Coach: Don Vaughan (27th Season)

2018-2019 Colgate record: 2-6-1 (0-1-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. Colgate : Quinnipiac leads 23-16-2

Colgate Key Players: Bobby McMann (F), Colton Young (F), Josh McKechney (F), Jared Cockrell (F), Paul McAvoy (F), Nick Austin (D), Trevor Cosgrove (D), Mitch Benson (G)

Colgate is coming off its third losing season in the last four years and the return on the four year old Class of 1965 Arena has yet to prove to be beneficial for the Raiders. They are still struggling to attract elite talent to Hamilton despite having a shiny new rink. This season the Raiders are off to a 3-6-3 start but have competed hard and lost some close games and beat and tied some good teams including UMass Lowell and Providence. They are lacking in talent and it is hurting them.

Just as it has been a problem in past years the offense once again is struggling for Colgate. Averaging just 1.66 goals per game, the Raiders desperately need to find players that can score goals. Freshman Colton Young looks like a nice find as he has six points on the year as the teams leading scorer. Colgate doesn't have one player averaging a point per game let a lone three quarters of a point per game. They are the 4th worst offense in the country and only Union is worse than them in the ECAC. Their best player Bobby McMann is off to a slow start and needs to get going for the Raiders. Colgate by far has the worst power play in the country at 2.27% (1 of 44).

Colgate has been able to stay in games because of its defense. On the season, the Raiders are allowing 2.58 goals per game and a lot of that is due to the fact they have four upperclassmen back on the blue line. Nick Austin, Trevor Cosgrove, Jacob Panetta and Paul Meyer have logged a ton of minutes for the Raiders and have helped keep the puck out of the net. This is a Colgate defense that also has done a nice job on the penalty kill at 82.2%

Sophomore Mitch Benson has done a very solid job this season for Colgate with a 2.37 goals against average and a .913 save percentage which are better numbers than he posted a season ago. Benson is the backbone of the Colgate defense and has shown to be the most consistent Raider player this season. If Colgate wants to beat Quinnipiac, he is going to have to play a big part in making that happen with a strong performance.


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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Quinnipiac lands game changing commit in Ty Smilanic

Ty Smilanic with the USNTDP

The Quinnipiac Bobcats landed a major commitment on Wednesday with the news from Jeff Cox that the program landed United States National Developmental Program center Ty Smilanic a potential first round pick in 2020. This is a game changer for the Quinnipiac program who have never landed a potential first round draft pick in the Rand Pecknold era.

Smilanic a native of Denver, Colorado was a former Denver Pioneers commit with the two parting ways in September of 2018. The 2002 born Smilanic is a 6'1, 177 pound left shot center shot center who has four points in two USHL games this season. He has not played since October 20th but its unknown if he has an injury.

Central Scouting has him ranked as an A rated player in their most recent rankings on November 11th. In an NHL.com article, the director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr had this to say about Smilanic. "He plays the game with speed, quickness, smarts and skills. What sets him apart is he's always on the puck, he's always forcing the play, always making things happen."

Many other publications have him ranked in the top 30, Smilanic should see his name called on the first night of the draft. His WHL rights are held by Regina so he is still a possible flight risk. Should Smilanic be a first round pick, Quinnipiac may only have him for a season or two but in the long run it is worth it as this may open the path to other higher end players.

Links

EliteProspects Player Page
USHL Player Page


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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's weekend sweep of Union & RPI

Quinnipiac wore their camo jersey's to honor those in the military
Quinnipiac returned to the win column this weekend with a pair of victories as they swept Union and RPI to win their first two ECAC games of the season. It was the second time Quinnipiac swept a weekend series with opening weekend against AIC being the first. The wins move the Bobcats to 6-4-1 (2-1-1 ECAC) as they head to Cornell and Colgate next weekend. Here are my thoughts and observations from the weekend slate of games.

- It was really surprising to see Quinnipiac struggle with a bad Union team on Friday. They got down early by a goal and were really sluggish in the first period.  Give Union some credit for coming out more prepared than Quinnipiac despite the talent limitations with that team. The second and third periods were better but they could only get the two goals past Darion Hanson which was enough for the win. They can get away with scoring two probably against teams like Union but against most teams scoring two won't cut it. They need more guys to produce offense from this roster.

- Saturday night featured a much improved RPI team in Dave Smith's third season at the helm. The Engineers got on the board fast when Will Reilly beat Keith Petruzzelli glove side. This was the 5th consecutive game for Quinnipiac that they gave up the first goal, a trend that really can't continue to happen. After that RPI goal it was all Quinnipiac the rest of the first period as they scored three unanswered goals. The last two periods were uneventful and pretty sluggish from Quinnipiac and they got very lucky in the third period when RPI had a 5 on 3 and had a goal waved off. It was a little surprising to see RPI goaltender Owen Savory pulled after one period and it could be a wake up call for him. Expect RPI to be much better in the second half as they contend for a top four spot in the ECAC.

- Quinnipiac had better energy this weekend along with better puck possession and passing. When the Bobcats are doing those things well they are a tough team to beat but they clearly will need to be better than what they did weekend as they will face better teams down the road.

- Karlis Cukste had an outstanding weekend on the blue line. He was Quinnipiac's best player on Friday night and was really good again Saturday against RPI. Cukste was stout in the defensive end with six blocked shots on the weekend but his offensive game was impressive as well. He a power play goal against Union and followed that up assisting on all three goals against RPI for a four point weekend. Quinnipiac needs Cukste to be at his best every game because of the youth and inexperience they have on the blue line this year. It showed this weekend.

- It took 11 games but Odeen Tufto finally got his first goal of the season. Hopefully with this first one of the way, he will go on the tear scoring now for Quinnipiac as they have some really tough games coming up with Cornell, Colgate and Massachusetts here in November. The more offense out of Tufto the better this team will be.

- Two more Bobcats also got their first goals of the season. Alex Whelan and William Fallstrom scored just 2:16 apart to give Quinnipiac a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Whelan who is coming off an injury had a two point night and three in total for the weekend as he was paired with Odeen Tufto and Wyatt Bongiovanni. Fallstrom had the eventual game winning goal and had a two point weekend for the Bobcats. Both of these players had over 20 points a season ago and were expected to have bigger production this season. Hopefully this weekend will lead to a breakout from them.

Quinnipiac swept the weekend with a 3-1 win over RPI

- Keith Petruzzelli who has been up and down of late bounced back with a strong weekend saving 40 of 42 shots in two victories. After an 0-3-1 stretch it was good to see Petruzzelli play strong in between the pipes for Quinnipiac. This was a weekend that he needed to have and he delivered. Stick tap for the junior goaltender. Petruzzelli will now go back to Lynah Rink where he suffered one of his worst games back in the 2018 ECAC Quarterfinals.

- The Quinnipiac defense looked much better this weekend outside of the first period against Union on Friday. Karlis Cukste showed he was the lead back there but they started to show they can play as a cohesive unit on the blue line. I expect the defense to get better as the season goes along as these young players get more comfortable and more experienced.

- The power play is still a work in progress after going 1 for 7 on the weekend but it was the penalty kill that showed to be very good. They killed off seven opposing power plays on the weekend including a key 5 on 3 against RPI in which they got some referee's luck with a goal waved off. The penalty kill is starting to look more like typical Quinnipiac teams of the past and that is a positive development.

- Next weekend will be the toughest road venue Quinnipiac will face this season. The Bobcats head to Lynah Rink to face the Cornell Big Red who are off to a 6-0 start and one of only two undefeated teams remaining in the country with the other being Harvard. The Big Red are loaded and a potential team that can reach the Frozen Four this year. They have scoring, a very good defense and the best goaltender in the league in Matthew Galajda who is off to another good start this season.

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