Monday, October 24, 2016

Scouting the enemy: Massachusetts Minutemen

No. 6/7 Quinnipiac has another weekday home game from a Hockey East opponent when the Massachusetts Minutemen travel to High Point Solutions Arena on Tuesday night. New UMass head coach Greg Carvel stunned the college hockey world when he left his alma mater, St. Lawrence University to accept the job at a perennial cellar dweller. Carvel left for more money and better facilities than what he had at St. Lawrence and should have more resources to recruit.

Carvel was building something good at St. Lawrence taking over from the retired Joe Marsh. In his four seasons in Canton, NY he had a 72-63-15 record, but left a very good team now to current St. Lawrence coach Mark Morris. Carvel in 8 games against Quinnipiac is 3-4-1 but those two of those victories came at High Point Solutions arena in Hamden.

The Minutemen enter Tuesday's game with a 2-1 record having played all 3 of the team's games at the Mullins Center so far. They opened with a win against Colorado College 3-0 before falling to the same team 7-4 the next night. This past weekend, UMass beat Army 3-2.

In the three games played, the Minutemen are averaging 3.33 goals per game while allowing 3.00 goals per game. They are in the bottom third in the country on the power play converting just 2 out 25 opportunities for 8%. The Minutemen are in the upper third of penalty kill in the country at 87.5% killing off 21 of 24 penalties. That could spell trouble for a Quinnipiac team that has struggled mightily on the power play this season (6 out of 45 for 13.33%) and will be without one of their top players on the point in Chase Priskie.

Jonny Lazarus (photo by Jerrey Roberts, Gazette Staff)
This Minuteman team is far from the talent of Quinnipiac, having finished at the bottom of Hockey East each of the past two seasons. With Carvel being hired at the end of March, he had to put together almost an essentially new recruiting class in a short amount of time. 8 Freshman make up the 29 player roster for UMass with goaltender Ryan Wischow (2-0, 2.37 GAA, .923 save %) likely to get the start in net while forwards Jonny Lazarus (2 goals 2 assists) and  Griff Jeszka (2 goals 1 assist) bring production up front from the freshman. Junior forwards Dominic Trento (4 assists) and Patrick Lee (1 goal 3 assists) are others to watch as well as senior captain Steven Iacobellis (67 career points).

Quinnipiac's defense needs to be able cut off time and space from the Minutemen and keep them to the perimeter and suffocate them into turnovers and then use their defensive transition game to get the puck up quickly to the forwards to create scoring opportunities. UMass is not the biggest team up front so being physical with their forwards will be a key.

Ryan Wischow (photo by Erica Lowenkron/Daily Collegian)
The Bobcats on offense must get some traffic in front of likely starter Ryan Wischow who gave up 2 screened goals against Army on Friday night. UMass has a tall defensive core as most of their players are 6'2 or greater but they haven't generated a ton of offense from their blue line (5 assists). Quinnipiac will have to use speed and smarts to get around this tall defensive unit. The Minutemen's only two NHL draft picks are on the blue line in sophomore's William Lagesson (2014 4th round, Edmonton) and Ivan Chukarov (2015 7th round, Buffalo).

It remains to be seen who will man the pipes for Quinnipiac as head coach Rand Pecknold has given junior Chris Truehl 4 starts, with freshman Andrew Shortridge getting 2 starts and the most recent game against Boston University.

The Bobcats are 6-2-2 all time against the Minutemen with a 4-1 record against them at High Point Solutions Arena.

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

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