Monday, October 17, 2016

Early season late period collapses give cause for concern

Let me first say it is early in the 2016-2017 Quinnipiac hockey season. Four games in exactly. But in three of the four games the team has given up tying goals late in the 3rd period. The first blown lead came on opening night against Northeastern with 53 seconds left when the Huskies, Nolan Stevens re-directed a shot past goaltender Chris Truehl. Quinnipiac escaped with a 2-2 tie as they were consistently outworked for much of the game. The following night, Rand Pecknold's team responded with a 5-2 win against the same Huskies team.

This past weekend the Bobcats traveled to Orono, Maine to face the University of Maine Black Bears. Once again on Friday night the Bobcats jumped out to a lead and led 3-1 late in the 3rd period before two Maine goals 2:02 apart tied the game at 3-3. With the momentum swung, Maine capitalized in overtime as a power play goal by Mitchell Fossier gave the Black Bears a stunning 4-3 win. The following night was a similar story but with a different result as Quinnipiac once again got off to a quick start leading 2-0 after the 1st period. Maine got on the board with a power play goal in the 2nd period and then with less than five minutes to play in the 3rd period, the Black Bears tied the game on a goal by Nolan Vesey. Quinnipiac sophomore Craig Martin got the Bobcats a split on the road with a goal 1:15 into overtime. This was a hard fought series from both teams and either team probably could have come away with a sweep. The Black Bears are a vastly improved team than the one that Quinnipiac curb stomped in Hamden a year ago. They will be a team that could give trouble to some of the upper tier teams in Hockey East this season.

What is concerning is the blown 3rd period leads. This team could easily be 4-0 if not for the early season 3rd period meltdowns on defense. Coming into this season the defense, which was thought to be the strength of the team has looked shaky at times. The team returned the majority of the defense in Connor Clifton, Derek Smith, Kevin McKernan, Chase Priske and Luke Shiplo (who has since been elevated to forward). Newcomers, Karlis Cukste and Brogan Rafferty have been very solid in the back-end as freshman. Senior captains Connor Clifton and Derek Smith have at times looked shaky on defense which is a surprise considering how good they were a season ago.

While the team lost Devon Toews to the pros (NY Islanders) and Alex Minor-Barron to graduation the biggest loss might have been assistant coach Reid Cashman. Likely the Bobcats unofficial defensive coordinator the numbers with Cashman in his five years in Hamden and the six year prior to his arrival are staggering. This season in four games the goals allowed is 2.50.

With Reid Cashman
2015-16 1.98 GAA
2014-15 1.88 GAA
2013-14 2.03 GAA
2012-13 1.52 GAA
2011-12 2.61 GAA

Without Reid Cashman
2010-11 2.82 GAA
2009-10 2.86 GAA
2008-09 2.08 GAA
2007-08 3.05 GAA
2006-07 2.86 GAA
2005-06 3.36 GAA

It's early in the season and there is obvious room for improvement which coach Rand Pecknold will tell you as well. But the late game blown leads are something to watch and so is the goals allowed in the first season without Reid Cashman on the bench with coach Pecknold in five years.

Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow him on Twitter @jonathan_singer

No comments:

Post a Comment