Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Scouting the enemy: Rensselaer Engineers

The No. 5/7 Quinnipiac Bobcats returned home from Belfast, Northern Ireland this week after a league tie against Saint Lawrence and a loss in the Friendship Four championship game to Vermont. For the 9-4-2 Bobcats, it was a struggle to find the back of the net with the team scoring only one goal on the weekend across the Atlantic. They now welcome the 3-12-1 Rensselaer Engineers into High Point Solutions Arena on Friday night. RPI might be just what the doctor ordered for the Bobcats offense as the Engineers the 56th team in the pairwise rankings have struggled mightily this season. Head coach Seth Appert is signed through 2021 but has had only 4 winning seasons in his 11 seasons in Troy. One of those seasons ended with a trip to the NCAA tournament but those other three seasons were only a few games over .500. Appert for his career has a .427 winning percentage which is 3rd worst in the ECAC behind Princeton's Ron Fogarty and Brown's Brendan Whittet. With the way the team has played under Appert this season, they look headed for their third losing season in the last four years. Of the three wins they have this year (RIT, Brown, Arizona State) not one is from a quality opponent. They have lost a couple of games in overtime to Union and Yale that possibly could have turned into wins or even ties making their record a bit better.

Evan Tironese (photo by Grand Forks Herald)
Offensively RPI is one of the worst teams in the country at scoring goals. They average two goals per game which is good for 56th in the nation and they are the second worst scoring team in ECAC Hockey behind Brown (1.78 goals per game). They are not the biggest team up front with many smaller quicker forwards but they lack scoring talent up front. The leading scorer for RPI is sophomore forward Evan Tironese who leads the team with 17 points (3 goals and 14 assists) in 15 games. Senior forward Riley Bourbonnais was the teams leading scorer a year ago is second on the team in points with 13 but is tied for the team lead in goals at seven. Three of the seven goals he has are on the power play while two of the seven have come shorthanded this year. He is a one of the teams threats at five on five, the power play and the penalty kill. The Bobcats keeping Bourbonnais silent on Friday would be a wise option. Junior defenseman Jared Wilson has seven goals from the blue line with four of them on the power play and three game winning goals this season. A couple other producers are freshman forward Jacob Hayhurst (2 goals and 6 assists) and junior forward Drew Melanson (4 goals and 3 assists). The lone draft pick up front is Lou Nanne a 2012 7th round pick by Minnesota who has a goal and four assists on the season. RPI has a power play in the bottom third of Division I scoring at a clip of 14.46% (12-of-84). I'd expect the RPI power play to struggle with how well the Bobcats are on the penalty kill at 89.4%. The lack of scoring depth has hurt RPI this season so if the Bobcats can focus on keeping some of the top scorers quiet it should help in winning this game.

Riley Bourbonnais (photo by Sara Melikian)
Defensively RPI has shown to be a very poor team five on five. They are 54th in the nation in scoring defense giving up 3.50 goals per game on the season. Only the Brown Bears are worse on defense in the ECAC than RPI. A season ago they gave up 2.60 goals per game on the season.The Engineers have a lot of height on the blue line with six players 6'. 1 or taller. This is a defense that is a collectively minus 54 already this season. Last season the defensemen were a plus 4. It's surprising they have played so bad as RPI lost only two defenders to graduation. They returned four upperclassmen on the blue line so one would think they would get better from a year ago not worse. If they do anything well on defense its that they block shots. They are averaging 15 blocked shots per game this season with a game high of 27 and they did that twice this year. They are also a very good team on the penalty kill where they rank 7th in the nation killing them off at an 89.3% clip. RPI needs the defense to improve to have any chance at recovering from the team's poor start. If not it could be a very long winter in Troy for the RPI faithful.

Sophomore goaltender Chase Perry a transfer from Colorado College has gotten the bulk of the work load so far this season playing in 11 games. The 2014 5th round pick by the Detroit Red Wings is a tall athletic netminder with good flexibility and reaction to make those second and third saves more frequently. His numbers this season don't tell the whole story as his defense has really let him down in front of him. On the season he is 1-9-1 with a 3.67 goals against average and a .899 save percentage. It's likely his numbers would be much better if the players in front of him played better. Backup Cam Hackett has seen game action in six games and statistically has been the better goaltender with a 2-3 record with a 2.67 goals per game average and a .913 save percentage. Both are talented goaltenders who need the defense to pick up some slack in front of them. Hackett has played in two of the last three games so its unknown who Appert will turn to Friday night against Quinnipiac.

The Bobcats need to excel on the fore-check to keep the RPI defense from gaining any confidence and to force mistakes against them. On defense, Quinnipiac needs to a do a good job closing off passing lanes, shutting down some of the top players on RPI (Tironese, Bourbonnais and Wilson)   and blocking shots. If they do these things that should put them in good position to come away with two ECAC points.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Connor Clifton suspended 1 game by ECAC

Senior captain Connor Clifton has been suspended one game by ECAC Hockey as it was announced today stemming from contact to the head hit in Saturday's Friendship Four final against the Vermont Catamounts. The hit occurred at the 13:26 mark of the first period when the defenseman was assessed a major penalty for contact to the head and a game misconduct penalty. The Bobcats ended up losing the game 5-1 to Vermont. This is Clifton's second game misconduct penalty of the season as he was assessed one at the end of the UMass game back on October 25th stemming from a major spearing penalty. ECAC Hockey did not give him any additional discipline from that game.

Connor Clifton (photo by Mickey Bedell/Bangor Daily News)
Clifton's suspension will take place this Friday when the Bobcats return home to face RPI in an ECAC league game. The hope is that Derek Smith will return to the lineup to mitigate the blow of Clifton's suspension. Smith missed the Bobcats last two games in Belfast, Northern Ireland due to undisclosed reasons. If Smith cannot play on Friday in Clifton's absence then the Bobcats will likely go with senior Joe Fiala back on defense. Quinnipiac then plays host to Union College the next night in which Clifton should return to the Bobcats lineup.

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

Monday, November 28, 2016

Quinnipiac recruiting notes 11/28/2016

It was a slow week for future Quinnipiac commits as some recruits had a quiet games on the ice and some commits didn't have any games at all due to the Thanksgiving holiday. We also saw the Bobcats play in the Friendship Four tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland where they tied Saint Lawrence on Friday before winning in a shoot-out and then getting beat 5-1 Saturday to a quality Vermont Catamount squad. With that said lets get on to this weeks notes.

Matt Fawcett (photo courtesy of Winchendon School)

Two commits kick off their prep school season this week in 1999 forward Matt Fawcett for The Winchendon School and 2000 defenseman Peter Diliberatore for the Salisbury School. Fawcett has already played two games this season for the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL who hold his rights and is currently on their affiliate list. He didn't record a point in either game he played. He will also play for the U18 Eastern Mass Senators split season team on top of playing for Winchendon. Diliberatore according to Neutral Zone is a smart, dynamic offensive defender. He was selected in the 10th round by the Sioux Falls Stampede in the 2016 USHL Phase I draft but was also a 4th round selection by his hometown Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL which makes him a possible flight risk to major junior hockey.

Another commit starting his school season this week is 1999 forward Corey Clifton who on top of playing for the North Jersey Avalanche 18U team also will be playing as a senior for the Christian Brothers Academy. His high school season kicks off on November 28th.

1999 goaltender Keith Petruzzelli had his roughest game of the season against Team USA on November 22nd when he gave up eight goals on 37 shots. He had not given up more than three goals per game in any of the games he played in this season. He currently is 7-4 with a 2.57 goals against average and .914 save percentage but the last two statistics are skewed due to that one bad game. He has been playing some really good hockey in between the pipes for Muskegon until his most recent start.  as he was playing some really good hockey in net for Muskegon. I wouldn't expect this one bad performance by him to be something of a trend. Petruzzelli is an extremely talented goaltending prospect that plays with great confidence.
Keith Petruzzelli (photo by Muskegon Lumberjacks)

Two Quinnipiac commits went head to head in action this weekend when 1999 forward Matt Cassidy of the Springfield Junior Blues faced off against 1998 forward John DeRoche of the Topeka RoadRunners. Cassidy picked up another point on the weekend with an assist on Friday while DeRoche was held scoreless. However, DeRoche seemed to be snake bitten in Saturday's game as he led Topeka with 10 shots on goal.

1998 forward Khristian Acosta continues to be a point per game player in the NAHL. While he has not scored a goal in over a month he does have nine assists in that time frame. On the season for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton he has 6 goals and 11 assists in 15 games played.

1998 defenseman Zach Metsa had one assist against Salmon Arm this past weekend. He now has 16 assists in 29 games played for Merritt in the British Columbia Hockey League.

1996 forward Matt Forchuk had two more goals in a November 22 game for the Canmore Eagles. In 25 games played, he is the teams leading scorer with 13 goals and 25 assists and the third leading scorer in the AJHL.

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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Defense plays poorly as Quinnipiac falls 5-1 to Vermont in Belpot final

The No. 3/4 Quinnipiac Bobcats were out muscled, out hustled and clearly didn't play anywhere close to the their national ranking in a 5-1 loss to Vermont in the Belpot final of the Friendship Four tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Catamounts brought their skating legs all night and had the Bobcats defense on their heals all night long. It was a display of hockey that Quinnipiac fans are not accustomed to seeing with this team and it showed they have a lot of work to do if they want to challenge for a national championship come April.

Craig Martin (photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)
In the first period Ross Colton got the scoring started less than six minutes into the game, when he picked off a pass in the neutral zone and skated into the crease beating goaltender Andrew Shortridge for the goal. Vermont made it 2-0 seven minutes later when Mario Puskarich bombed a one timer in the slot on a pass from Craig Puffer. The Bobcats lost senior captain Connor Clifton to a five minute major penalty for a hit to the head 13 minutes into the first period leaving Quinnipiac shorthanded on defense for the rest of the game. The team was already without fellow captain Derek Smith on the blue line for an undisclosed reason.

In the second period the Bobcats played a better period but still came up empty on the scoreboard. They peppered 14 shots in the period on Stefanos Lekkas who played exceptionally well for someone who does not have ideal size for a goaltender. He used his quickness and athleticism to stuff the Bobcats time and time again. Quinnipiac had four power play opportunities in the second and could not cash in. Late in the period the Catamounts made the score 3-0 on the power play when Jarrid Privitera tipped a shot from the point by Rob Hamilton that went through several players and past Shortridge.

Ross Colton (photo by Brian Jenkins/Free Press)
The Bobcats got on the board 7:58 into the third period on the power play when Brogan Rafferty sent a pass to the opposite circle to Craig Martin who blasted a shot past Lekkas to make it a 3-1 lead for Vermont. Chase Priskie also picked up a secondary assist on the goal. Not even a minute later the Catamounts responded on an unassisted goal by Ross Colton (his second of the game). A little more than two minutes later the Catamounts put the cherry on top with a goal by Derek Lodermeier.

You have to give credit to Vermont as they played extremely well defensively against Quinnipiac keeping many shots from the the outside and not giving the Bobcats many good looks or time and space to work with. The Catamount defense also blocked 18 shots on the game and were willing to do anything to prevent the Bobcats from having easy scoring opportunities. Lekkas finished the game with 40 saves while Andrew Shortridge made 17 for the Bobcats. I think that Quinnipiac didn't look as comfortable on the bigger sheet of ice this weekend as they do on normal size rinks. It was a missed opportunity for the Bobcats against a team in the top 15 of the pairwise to pick up another quality win. Quinnipiac will now head home for a weekend slate of games against RPI on Friday and Union on Saturday.

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

Scouting the enemy: Vermont Catamounts

The No. 3/4 Quinnipiac Bobcats face off against the No. 20/21 Vermont Catamounts for the Belpot in the championship game of the Friendship Four tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireleand. The Bobcats advanced to the title game with a shoot-out win over ECAC rival Saint Lawrence while Vermont defeated UMass Amherst 4-2 to move to advance. The Catamounts have gotten off to a good start this season under head coach Kevin Sneddon who is entering his 14th season with Vermont. The team is currently 8-3-2 and in second place in Hockey East with nine points behind first place Boston College. Sneddon has had some solid success with Vermont taking the program to three NCAA tournament appearances and a Frozen Four berth in the 2008-2009 season. This is only the second meeting all time for Quinnipiac against Vermont, the last coming in a 4-1 win over the Catamounts on December 30, 2007 in the Sheraton/Catamount Cup in Burlington, Vermont.

Ross Colton (photo by Brian Jenkins/Free Press)
Offensively this is a team that can put the puck in the net due in part to the 3.38 goals per game they are averaging this season. They are getting balanced scoring from multiple players up and down their roster. They have two leading scorers both with nine points in sophomore Craig Puffer (6 goals and 3 assists) and freshman Ross Colton (4 goals and 5 assists) with the latter being a 2016 4th round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning. They feature another three players with eight points in senior Mario Puskarich (4 goals and 4 assists), junior Rob Darrar (5 goals and 3 assists) and senior blue liner Rob Hamilton (3 goals and 5 assists). They are getting some nice production from a pair of freshman forwards in Derek Lodermeier (3 goals and 4 assists) and Matt Alvaro (4 goals and 2 assists). They have two draft picks up front with sophomore Liam Coughlin a 2014 5th round pick by the Edmonton Oilers and Colton. They are a middle of the pack team on the power play converting at 17.28% (14-of-81) so the Quinnipiac penalty kill should be able to make it tough on them to score as they are killing chances at 90.1% clip good for 7th in the nation. The Catamounts don't bring a ton of size up front but make up for it with good team speed. Quinnipiac has the team speed on defense to match up with the Catamounts speedy forwards but you do wonder how much they have in the tank after a face paced physical battle yesterday against Saint Lawrence took its toll.

Defensively, Vermont is a very good team at 2.23 goals per game which is good for 8th in the nation one spot behind Quinnipiac. Sneddon has played all nine of his defensemen on his roster this season for multiple games with seniors Rob Hamilton and Ori Abramson playing in a all 13 games along with freshman Matt O'Donnell. The lone draft pick on defense is freshman Jake Massie a 2015 6th pick of the Carolina Hurricanes. Sophomore Mike Lee is a Hamden, CT native but has only played in three games this season. The blue line has produced 25 points of offense for the Catamounts so they have ability to contribute if necessary. They are a team that has the ability to block shots in games as they have averaged 11.2 block shots per game. Vermont has a very good penalty kill as well as they have killed off opponents power plays at an 88.2% clip (67-of-76). They are not the biggest team on defense but they have good team speed, make good decisions and don't make a lot of mistakes. Offensively the Bobcats will need to outwork the Catamounts when they are in Vermont's zone in order to create quality scoring opportunities.

Stefanos Lekkas (photo by Brendan Sullivan/The World Herald)
Freshman goaltender Stefanos Lekkas has been really good for Vermont this season. In 10 games he has a 7-1-2 record with a 1.79 goals against average and a .935 save percentage. He has one shutout on the season as well. Lekkas is not a big goaltender checking in a 5'9 and 170 pounds but has good quickness and athleticism to make up for his lack of size in net. Quinnipiac will need to put traffic in front of him so he will have trouble seeing the puck and to try to get some greasy goals.

This should be a good match up of two quality teams for the Belpot title. This is the game you wanted Quinnipiac to play as Vermont is the 12th rated team in the pairwise as opposed to UMass which is 47th. A win over the Catamounts will help Quinnipiac's pairwise much more than a win over UMass would have.

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

Quinnipiac ties Saint Lawrence 0-0 but wins in shoot-out in Belfast

The No. 3/4 Quinnipiac Bobcats and the No. 18 Saint Lawrence Saints played 65 minutes of scoreless hockey today in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the Friendship Four tournament. The Bobcats won the game in a shoot-out after freshman Nick Jermain scored the only goal for both teams in the shootout. The game will go down as a tie in the ECAC standings so the Saints remain in first place in the ECAC and now hold the all important tiebreaker over the Bobcats thanks in part to a 1-0-1 record against Quinnipiac.

Chris Truehl (photo by Matt Dewkett)
Play in the first period was fast and physical between Quinnipiac and Saint Lawrence. Both teams had numerous scoring opportunities but could not capitalize. Saint Lawrence out shot the Bobcats 14-9 but junior goaltender Chris Truehl was on his game in the first period, turning away all of the Saints chances and limiting rebounds. Quinnipiac had two power play opportunities in the first and failed to convert.

Quinnipiac dominated play in the second as they put 17 shots on Saint Lawrence goaltender Kyle Hayton who came up big, time and time again. The Bobcats had three power play chances in the second and failed to convert on any as the Saint Lawrence penalty kill gave them little time and space.

In the third period Saint Lawrence found its game once it again as they out shot the Bobcats 13 to 8. Both goaltenders once again were strong in this period and the defenses did not much space to work with. Quinnipiac was forced to kill off three Saint Lawrence power plays but the Bobcats squandered a major chance in the third period when the Saints Joe Sullivan took a five minute boarding call and was given a game misconduct. The Saints penalty kill was outstanding not giving the Bobcats many good looks on Hayton. The power play ended prematurely when Quinnipiac's Scott Davidson took a hooking penalty at 15:23 bringing play for four on four for a brief time before the Bobcats had to kill off a short Saint Lawrence power play.

In overtime both teams had opportunities but failed to capitalize. Quinnipiac finished the game with 37 shots on goal while Saint Lawrence had 32 shots on Chris Truehl who recorded his first shutout of the season and his fourth of his career dating back to his time at Air Force. Junior forward Kevin Duane returned to game action today while senior captain Derek Smith was out of the lineup shifting Luke Shiplo back to defense.

While its early in the ECAC season Quinnipiac now has to hope for some sort of slip up by Saint Lawrence so the tiebreaker will not come into a factor. After watching 65 great minutes of hockey its hard not to see a another meeting of these two teams later in the season in Lake Placid if these two programs continue at this pace. Both teams played outstanding hockey on defense while Chris Truel and Kyle Hayton both played strong in between the pipes.

The win in today's shootout by Quinnipiac could prove to be highly beneficial if they can beat Vermont tomorrow as they are the 10th rated team in the pairwise as opposed to UMass who is 46th in the pairwise.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Scouting the enemy: Saint Lawrence Saints

For the second time in three weeks the No. 3/4 Quinnipiac Bobcats face off against the No. 19/16 Saint Lawrence University Saints. Its a match up of the top two teams in the ECAC with the Saints being in the top spot one league point ahead of the Bobcats. We have not yet hit the month of December in the college hockey season, but this may be one of the most important games of the season for Quinnipiac. Having already lost to Saint Lawrence on the road at Appleton Arena the Bobcats can ill afford to be swept against the Saints after giving up a home game to play them in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the Friendship Four tournament. A loss would not only put the Bobcats three points behind the Saints but they would lose any tiebreaker to them. The Saints (8-4-2, 5-0-1) are unbeaten in their last seven games after losing three straight to end October. This includes a 2-0 shutout of the Bobcats when the Saints put 34 shots on goal and blocked 19 Quinnipiac shots in the game. The Saints defense was excellent in that game, keeping a very good Bobcats offense at bay to get a rare shutout against Quinnipiac.

Gavin Bayreuther (photo by Tara Freeman/SLU)
Offensively, the Saints are on fire right now as one of only four teams in Division I to reach 50 goals so far. A weekend ago they scored 12 goals in a sweep of Yale and Brown. The Saints are currently averaging 3.57 goals per game on the season. They have three players averaging a point per game or more led by all league defenseman Gavin Bayreuther (5 goals and 11 assists). They also have five different players that have scored five goals or more. Juniors Mike Marnell and Joe Sullivan have seven goals apiece and 15 and 14 points respectively. Sophomore Jacob Pritchard has 13 points (5 goals and 8 assists) while senior Drew Smolcynski has 8 points (5 goals and 3 assists). They have gotten contributions from up and down the roster in players like Michael Ederer, Alexander Dahl, Michael Laidley, Ryan Lough and Carson Gicewicz who have all brought offense to the Saints this year. This is a team that also has five shorthanded goals on the season so they can bring offense even when down a man. One thing they are struggling with is their power play which is converting at a 9.76% clip (8-of-82). With the Bobcats penalty kill in the top ten in the country at 89.6% they will make it tough for the Saints to score on the power play.

The Saint Lawrence defense has been outstanding in its last seven games. Over that span they given up 1.28 goals per game with two shutouts. Overall for the season they are giving up 2.50 goals per game but the last seven games will be more of a reflection on the Saint Lawrence defense the Bobcats will see. This defense brings it lunch pail to the rink every night. They consistently get double figures in shot blocks in every game except one this season. They are averaging over 14 blocked shots per game which is outstanding and had a season high of 20 blocked shots against Union in a 2-2 tie. Bayreuther, Eric Sweetman and Ben Masella are the senior leaders back there and all play a huge role in the success of the Saints defense. Freshman Ben Finklestein is the lone draft pick on roster already has seven points (1 goal and 6 assists) while junior Nolan Gluchowski has nine points (1 goal and 8 assists). They are solid on the penalty kill at 84.8% (78-of-92) so they will make it tough for the Bobcats to score on the power play.

Kyle Hayton (photo by Tara Freeman/SLU)
Junior goaltender Kyle Hayton is an all league player who has played in 13 of the 14 games for the Saints this year. He got off to an up and down start in the month of October but in his last seven games dating back to October 29th against Minnesota he has been one of the best goaltenders in the country. He's given up nine goals in those seven games with two shutouts to boot. Not the biggest goaltender by any means he makes up for it with his great quickness and aggressiveness. He is playing with great confidence right now and it will be a difficult challenge for Quinnipiac to put many past Hayton especially with the defense he has in front of him playing at a high level.

The Bobcats need to really fore-check well in this game to put the Saints back on their heels and to create turnovers in the neutral zone and odd man rushes where the shot blocking ability of the Saints can be neutralized. Quinnipiac needs to a do a good job on its defense closing off passing lanes and blocking shots along with staying out of the penalty box. This is an important game for both teams as this game could determine who wins the ECAC regular season even with the majority of the league schedule still to play.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Friendship Four tournament could have important ECAC and Pairwise implications for Quinnipiac

The No. 3/4 Quinnipiac Bobcats Men's Hockey team is spending the Thanksgiving holiday over in Belfast, Northern Ireland for the second annual Friendship Four tournament. The tournament is hosting Quinnipiac along with fellow ECAC rival Saint Lawrence and Hockey East teams UMass Amherst and Vermont. Quinnipiac will take on Saint Lawrence in an ECAC league game. This was previously a Quinnipiac home game they had given up to attend this tournament.

This is a tremendous experience for the program and these student athletes to take in the sights of both Dublin, Ireland and Belfast, Northern Ireland. But make no mistake about it; Rand Pecknold, his staff and these student athletes need to treat this as a business trip. Both of these games could have implications down the road in ECAC play and the pairwise so winning this tournament is pretty important.

Quinnipiac kicks the tournament Friday against Saint Lawrence a team that shut out the Bobcats three weeks ago up in North Country. Saint Lawrence sits atop the ECAC standings with 11 points while Quinnipiac is a point behind at 10. That may not seem a lot but in the big picture if the Bobcats were to lose again to the Saint Lawrence they would be three points behind and the Saints would hold any tiebreaker against Quinnipiac down the road. Its very important that Quinnipiac takes care of business getting two points on Friday and not giving up any tiebreakers this early in the season. A win against the Saints will also give some bump to Quinnipiac's current pairwise (10) as they are an opponent in the top 20 (18th).

If Quinnipiac can win against Saint Lawrence the ideal opponent to face in the championship game would be the Vermont Catamounts. Why does Quinnipiac want to see a Vermont team who is 7-3-2 over a rematch against a UMass team that is 3-6-1? Shouldn't they want the easier path to a tournament title? Quinnipiac should want Vermont for pairwise implications only. They are currently ranked 14th in the pairwise versus 46th for UMass. Vermont has quality wins over Omaha, Michigan, Clarkson and Northeastern while the Minutemen don't have a quality win yet. Beating Vermont will give the Bobcats likely another quality win depending on how Vermont finishes the year.

Even though the calendar has not turned yet for the new year or even into December, getting certain wins early in the season will be important come March when the field of 16 is selected. The players and the staff can definitely enjoy the experience, see the sights but at the end of the day they need to treat this as a business trip.

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

Quinnipiac Hockey recruiting notes 11/21/2016

It was another successful weekend for the Quinnipiac men's hockey team as they took four points with a weekend swept on the road against Cornell and Colgate. The team is now headed overseas to Belfast, Northern Ireland for the Friendship Four tournament on Friday. With that said let's take a look at the future Bobcats as they continue their development in junior hockey towards reaching Hamden in the near future.

Matt Cassidy (photo by Joni Coons)
It was a great weekend for a trio of Quinnipiac commits playing in the North American Hockey League. 1999 forward Matt Cassidy had a five point weekend (3 goals and 2 assists) for the Springfield Junior Blues in a pair of wins over the Kenai River Brown Bears. It has been an adjustment for Cassidy as he is one of the youngest players on the team made up of a lot of 1996, 1997 and 1998 born players. He had only three assists in his first twelve games of the season before scoring his first goal on October 28th. Since scoring his first goal he has seven points in his last eight games for Springfield. Cassidy has the ability to be a big time scorer dating back to his time with Team Comcast U16 when he put up 121 points in 56 games in the 2014-15 season. That season got him noticed with USA scouts and he was invited to the US National Program Development camp. He did not make the national program and continued with Team Comcast. He did get called up for four games a season ago with the National Program but did not record a point. He also played two games last year for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL and scored a goal for them. In 20 games for Springfield this year, he has four goals and six assists but his confidence is growing and this should lead to better things to come for him.

John DeRoche (photo by Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
1998 forward John DeRoche played in his first three games for the Topeka Road Runners (NAHL) this weekend after getting traded to them from the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders (USHL) in a massive house cleaning after the Rough Riders got off to a brutal start. DeRoche was held scoreless in his debut but busted out the next two nights with a hat trick in an 8-7 win for Topeka on Friday and had a goal and an assist in a 6-5 overtime loss on Saturday. DeRoche struggled early in the season with Cedar Rapids only having one assist in ten games played. A year ago for Cedar Rapids he had 14 points (5 goals and 9 assists) in 39 games for the Rough Riders and was expected to increase that production this season but it never came to fruition. The smaller forward has good scoring ability as he put up 70 points (31 goals and 39 assists) in 30 games three years ago for the Boston Jr. Bruins 16U team. DeRoche has a good opportunity to rebuild his confidence with Topeka and be a featured player for them the rest of the season.

1998 forward Khristian Acosta had a three point weekend for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights chipping in with three assists in two wins over the Johnstown Tomahawks. In 13 games for the Knights he has six goals and ten assists for the team. He is one of three future Bobcats to already sign a letter of intent (Odeen Tufto and Ryan Finnegan the others).

1996 forward Matt Forchuk had a good week. In three games played, he had a goal and three assists. He is second in the AJHL in scoring with 12 goals and 24 assists. It was the first goal he scored since October 30th. He had been a bit quiet lately and had been held scoreless in three of the past six games.

Keith Petruzzelli (photo by Muskegon Lumberjacks)
1999 goaltender Keith Petruzzelli had a good weekend in the crease stopping 66 of 69 shots in two losses against the Sioux City Musketeers. The big goaltender has seen the majority of the game minutes for Muskegon while splitting time with Adam Brizgala. In 12 games, Petruzzelli has a 7-3 record with a 2.06 goals against average and a .929 save percentage with one shutout. It's very possible he will be the Bobcats highest ever draft pick as he is rated a B level prospect according to NHL Central Scouting meaning he could go within the second or third rounds of the 2017 NHL Draft.

Staying on the Petruzzelli topic, a source confirms to me that Keith's brother D.J. (1997 forward), also a Quinnipiac commit who is playing for the Springfield Jr. Blues along with Cassidy has been out of the lineup with a lower body injury that could be a lengthy injury. He was off to a good start for Springfield with a goal and three assists in five games.

2001 defenseman Dom Fensore has six points in his last four games (3 goals and 3 assists). In nine games this season he has seven points (3 goals and 4 assists). He is a skilled defenseman who SBN's Jeff Cox projected could be a player in the US National Developmental Camp in 2017.

Last weekend both Ethan Phillips and P.J. Fletcher competed for the South Kent 15U at the New England regional championships. While the team finished 2-2 losing in overtime to the Yale 15U team in the championship game both players had four point weekends. Phillips finished the weekend with a goal and three assists while Fletcher had two goals and two assists.

Quinnipiac is in a recruiting battle for a top 2002 Finnish defenseman in Ruben Rafkin who is playing two years above his age group with the 16U Selects teams at the South Kent School in Connecticut. Rafkin visited the Quinnipiac campus on October 3rd and just recently took a visit to Boston University on November 15th. It's not not known if he plans to visit any other schools at this time. This would be an important recruiting win for Quinnipiac should they be able to beat out a program like Boston University who continue to go after highly thought of players to stock their roster.

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

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Quinnipiac dominates Colgate in 7-3 win

The No. 4/6 Quinnipiac Bobcats swept a weekend slate of games in New York with a dominating 7-3 win this afternoon against Colgate at Class of 1965 Arena for their fourth consecutive victory. With the win, Quinnipiac moves to 9-3-1 overall and 5-1 in ECAC and moved into first place in the standings pending the outcome of the St. Lawrence and Brown game tonight. The Bobcats had control of this game for the majority of it and pulled away once Colgate cut the lead to one goal. Five different Bobcats scored goals and a total of twelve Bobcats recorded points on the night. This was a game that Quinnipiac could have put up a ten spot on the Raiders if it wasn't for the early solid play of Colgate's Charlie Finn.

Tim Clifton (photo by Tampa Bay Times)
Quinnipiac got the scoring started 3:51 in the first period when Tim Clifton scored a dirty goal on Finn that was initially waved off by the officials before being reviewed and overturned. A little more than two minutes later it was Tim Clifton again giving the Bobcats a 2-0 lead. Scott Davidson assisted on both of Clifton's first period goals along with Craig Martin and Karlis Cukste. Colgate got within one with less than a minute to play on a Brett Corkey goal off the face off that was blasted through Truehl from the point.

The Bobcats made the score 3-1 on a power play goal from K.J. Tiefenwerth 7:02 into the second period from both Brogan Rafferty and Craig Martin who picked up his second assist of the game. Six minutes later Tommy Schutt got the Bobcats fourth goal of the night set up from a great cross ice pass from Derek Smith. Tiefenwerth also picked up an assist on Schutt's goal. Colgate got back within two on the power with five minutes to play in the second on a Jacob Panetta goal which ended the Bobcats streak of killing off penalties at thirty in a row.

Scott Davidson (photo by Richard Gagnon)
Colgate got within a goal early in the third period on a goal by Tim Harrison but the Bobcats scored consecutive goals within the next four minutes of the third period extending the lead back to three. Tommy Schutt scored at the 4:50 mark of third from Brogan Rafferty and just under two minutes later it was Connor Clifton rifling a shot from the point to give the Bobcats a 6-3. Brogan Rafferty and Scott Davidson both picked up their third assist of the game on Clifton's goal. Bo Pieper capped the scoring at the 16:24 mark with a power play goal from Thomas Aldworth and Landon Smith. Quinnipiac scored on two of its eight power play opportunities for a 25% clip. Chris Truehl made 21 saves for his fourth consecutive win.

Multiple point scorers for the Bobcats tonight, include Tim Clifton and Tommy Schutt each scoring a pair of goals while Brogan Rafferty and Scott Davidson each had three assists. Craig Martin also had two assists in the game while K.J. Tiefenwerth had a goal and an assist.

Quinnpiac now heads to Belfast, Northern Ireland for the Friendship Four Tournament when they play Saint Lawrence in ECAC action on Friday.

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

Truehl strong in goal as Quinnipiac downs Cornell 3-1

No. 4/6 Quinnipiac went on the road Friday night before a sellout crowd at Lynah Rink for Cornell's home opener and came away with a 3-1 win. The win improved the Bobcats 8-3-1 on the season and 4-1 in ECAC play. They are tied for second in the ECAC standings with Clarkson and a point behind first place that is currently shared by St. Lawrence and Union.

Craig Martin (photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)
Quinnipiac quieted the Lynah faithful early, when it started the scoring 10:40 into the first period when Tim Clifton took a Craig Martin pass that split two defenders and backhanded a shot from his knees past Cornell goaltender Mitch Gillam. The Big Red responded a little over two minutes later when Anthony Angello scored on a rebound after Chris Truehl denied two Cornell chances from Patrick McCarron and Mitch Vanderlaan who both got credited for the assists on Angello's goal. Truehl was strong in the first period turning away nine of the ten Cornell shots.

Chris Truel (photo by Mickey Bedell/Bangor Daily News)

The Bobcats scored the game winner 2:52 into the second period on a power play goal by Chris Martin with assists by K.J. Tiefenwerth and Chase Priskie. On the night Quinnipiac was 1 of 4 on power play opportunities. Quinnipiac added an insurance goal at 16:48 mark in the period when Bo Pieper's shot went off the leg of a Cornell defenseman and into the net. Freshman Brogan Rafferty got the only assist on Pieper's goal.  Truehl stopped all seven Cornell shots in the second period.

In the third, the Quinnipiac defense buckled in and suffocated the Cornell offense into submission for the entire period. Late in the game Quinnipiac had to kill off a tripping penalty with Cornell pulling its goaltender. The Bobcats penalty kill was outstanding again killing off all four Cornell power play chances and 29 straight. Chris Truehl made save late in the game that the officials took minutes to review only to wave off no goal. The Quinnipiac goaltender stopped 21 of 22 shots for his third straight win and five of the last six and had very good rebound control in this game.

Quinnipiac has a quick turnaround tomorrow with a 4pm start at Colgate in the Raiders brand new Class of 1965 Arena before heading the Belfast, Northern Ireland this coming week for the Friendship Four tournament. 

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

Scouting the enemy: Colgate Raiders

Saturday night the No. 4/6 Quinnipiac Bobcats travel to Hamilton, New York in their first visit to Colgate's new Class of 1965 Arena. The new arena has been a project years in the making and should help elevate Colgate's recruiting to a certain degree. On paper this is a team that is one of the least talented teams in the ECAC along with Brown and Princeton. That said they have a solid coach in Don Vaughan who has led Colgate behind the bench since the 1992-1993 season. He has taken three Raider teams to the NCAA tournament in his time in Hamilton (2000, 2005, 2014). He usually does a good job getting the most of out of the limited talent he has on the roster. However a season ago expectations were high in Hamilton and the bottom dropped out from under the team and they finished with an 11-24-2 record.  Expectations are low this season for Colgate as they were picked 11th in the preseason coaches poll and 10th in the preseason media poll. So far they have not played great at home with a 1-1-3 record in the new barn.

Class of 1965 Arena (photo by Colgate Athletics)
Offensively, Colgate got cleaned out from last years team. They lost their top four scorers who combined for 114 points (48 goals and 68 assists) in the Spink brothers (Tyson and Tyler), Mike Borkowski and Darcy Murphy. So far they are ranked 49th in the nation in scoring offense at 2.36 goals per game but of the the ECAC teams that ranks 8th (RPI, Dartmouth, Brown and Princeton have worse offenses). They have had to rely on a handful of underclassmen for production this season with the top five scoring forwards either a freshman or sophomore. The teams leading scorer is sophomore Adam Dauda who has three goals and five assists in nine games played. Two freshman are the second and third leading scorers on the team in Bobby McMann (2 goals and 5 assists) and John Snodgrass (6 assists). A couple of other underclassmen have shown some production in sophomore Hunter Racine (3 goals and 1 assist) and freshman Jared Cockrell (2 goals and 2 assists). The lone draft pick up front is senior Tim Harrison (2013 6th round, Calgary) who has two goals and two assists on the season. For a team that has struggled offensively this season, Colgate has a middle of the pack power play at 29th in the country converting at 17.57% clip (13-of-74). Quinnipiac defensively should be able to match up well with this team, as they have the ability to close passing lanes and take away space against a team that does not have a lot of offensive talent. The Bobcats need to be able to force the inexperienced Colgate offense to make mistakes in turn capitalizing off those mistakes to produce offense of their own.

On defense the Raiders are a middle of the pack team as they are 34th in the nation scoring defense at 3.09 goals per game. Its another area where they are playing many underclassmen. They are led by two seniors in Brett Corkey (2 goals and 3 assists) and Jake Kulevich (1 goal and 4 assists) who are the 4th and 5th leading scorers on the team respectively. The players who have seen the most game action from the blue line for the Raiders are freshman Ross Craig (1 goal 2 assists), freshman Jacob Panetta (2 assists), sophomore Ken Citron (2 assists), sophomore Willie Brooks (1 goal) and freshman Paul Meyer. They are not a defense that wows you with talent or is great in transition but but they do a solid job with the talent they have. They do stand out on the penalty kill where they have killed 87% (67-of-77) of the opposing teams power play opportunities.

Charlie Finn (photo by Dave Schwarz/St. Cloud Times)
In goal they start four year starter Charlie Finn who has 49 career wins prior to Friday's game against Princeton. Finn is a smaller goalie in net at 5'11 175 pounds but has the ability to cover a lot of the net with quickness and agility. A season ago was the worst of Finn's career at Colgate when he went 10-23-1 with a 3.28 goals against average and a .899 save percentage. He has played in nine games so far this season and has bounced back a bit with a 2-4-3 record with a 2.67 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. He battled off season surgery and had to battle out highly touted recruit Colton Point a 2016 5th round draft pick by the Dallas Stars for the number one job.

Overall this is a very winnable game for Quinnipiac, as they are the more talented team across the board than Colgate and have a big coaching edge as well. As long as the Bobcats do not take dumb penalties and they can dictate the game on their terms there is no reason that they shouldn't walk out of Class of 1965 Arena with 2 ECAC points.

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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Former Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Gartieg called up by Canucks

Former Quinnipiac University goaltender has been recalled by the NHL's Vancouver Canucks as it was announced in a press release today. Garteig was currently playing for the ECHL's Alaska Aces. He has appeared in six games for the Aces totaling a 5-1 record with a 2.52 goals against average and a .916 save percentage.

Michael Garteig (photo by Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)
The former Bobcat standout is a Prince George, British Columbia native who signed with his hometown Canucks on April 29, 2016. Garteig played 124 games for the Bobcats finishing with a record of 78-25-16, a 1.98 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. He holds the school career record for shutouts at 19. He was part of two Quinnipiac teams that reached the Frozen Four (2013, 2016) and reached the NCAA tournament each of his four seasons in Hamden.  

Prior to arriving in Hamden, Garteig played three seasons in the British Columbia Hockey League for the Powell River Kings and Penticton Vees.  He won the BCHL Top Goaltender Awards in 2011 and 2012, and was a member of the 2012 Royal Bank Cup-winning Powell River Kings team.

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Scouting the enemy: Cornell Big Red

The No. 4/6 Quinnipiac Bobcats head up to New York state once again this Friday beginning with a game against Cornell in what will be the Big Red's home opener. Outside of Quinnipiac's rivalry with Yale, the Cornell Big Red might be the Bobcats second biggest ECAC rival. There is no love lost between head coaches Rand Pecknold of Quinnipiac and Mike Schaefer of Cornell. Schaefer has called out Pecknold in the past as a "fucking classless asshole", stemming from a November 2014 game which Cornell lost 1-0 to Quinnipiac. In that game Quinnipiac's Matthew Peca boarded Cornell's Cole Bardreau from behind (in 2013 Bardreau suffered a broken neck which ended his season and almost his career from a hit from behind) which caused Schaefer to go off in the press conference after he heard Pecknold argued for an embellishment penalty on Bardreau. There was also a 2013 ECAC Quarterfinal game which Quinnipiac won 10-0 which had multiple scrums and Schaefer accused Pecknold of running up the score. This young rivalry with the amount of bad blood and frequent playoff series between these teams reminds me of the rivalry between the Bruins and Canadiens to a much lessor extent.

The Big Red are off to a 2-2-1 start this year but all games have come on the road. Cornell leads the all-time series against Quinnipiac, 17-15-4. The Bobcats rallied to win in overtime, 5-4, on Nov. 7, 2015 in its last trip at Lynah Rink. Quinnipiac has won three ECAC playoffs series against Cornell (2007, 2013, 2016) and lost one to them (2011). Former Bobcats assistant coach Ben Syer is the Big Red's associate head coach. Lynah Rink is likely the toughest rink in the ECAC to play in with a very loud student section so as always winning there is a challenge.

Anthony Angello (photo by Cornell Athletics)
Once again Cornell is a big team on offense something that has been a trademark of Mike Schaefer teams. However with his freshman recruiting class Schaefer wanted to get the Big Red smaller and quicker this season and that is highlighted by Noah Bauld, Connor Murphy and Corey Hoffman up front. Both Bauld and Murphy have played four games apiece while Hoffman has yet to see game action. Cornell does still have ten forwards six feet or taller on the roster so there is going to be some transition over the next few years if Schaefer is truly making a full move to a smaller, quicker roster. Cornell is averaging 3.20 goals per game on offense which is 21st in the nation and while its power play is struggling at 13.33% (4-of-30). Quinnipiac's penalty kill is once again one of the best in the country at 90.1% (64-of-71) which is good for 6th in the nation.

The Big Red offense is headlined by a trio of leading scorers in sophomore Anthony Angello (2014 5th round, Pittsburgh) who has two goals and three assists and 5'7 sophomore forward Mitch Vanderlaan who has five goals already for Cornell. Junior Trevor Yates has two goals and three assists while sophomore Beau Starrett (2014 3rd round, Chicago) has a goal and two assists. Other players to watch out for on Cornell are junior Jared Fiegel (2014 7th round, Arizona), senior Matt Buckles (2013 4th round, Florida) and junior Dwyer Tschantz (2014 7th round, St. Louis). The key for Quinnipiac in this game will be using smaller, quicker forwards to get around the bigger slower Cornell team along with tiring them out. Winning neutral zone battles will be key for Quinnipiac in order to force mistakes from the Big Red and create offensive zone scoring opportunities.

Mitch Gilliam (photo by Ned Dykes/Cornell Athletics)
Defensively Cornell has moved to some smaller quicker players on the blue line to help their transition game. So far they have been rewarded with solid play on defense with the Big Red giving up only 2.60 goals per game which is good for 18th in the nation. They are getting some solid production on the blue line from players like freshman Yanni Kaldis (4 assists), senior Patrick McCarron (3 assists) and sophomore Alec McCrea (1 goal and 2 assists). What is impressive so far about the Cornell defense is the 93 blocked shots in 5 games played so far (18.6 per game). The ability of the Big Red to block shots at a high rate will be a challenge for the Bobcats to find clear paths to the net. Getting onto the power play is a must for Quinnipiac in order to create more scoring opportunities where Cornell's shot blocking might be neutralized to a degree. Cornell boosts a solid penalty killing unit at 86.7% (26-of-30).

In goal Cornell has one of the better goaltenders in the league in Mitch Gilliam. The senior is starting his third full season for the Big Red. He is off to an solid start on the year at 2-2-1 with a 2.84 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. He has 8 career shutouts (7 came last season) and a career save percentage in the .920's. Gilliam has seven games of experience the past two years against Quinnipiac so there nothing that the Bobcats have not seen with Gilliam before. He brings experience and confidence in his ability to take over a game so the Bobcats need to do a good job creating traffic in front of the net in order to score some greasy goals.

Overall I would expect this game to be a fast paced and physical between two programs that have no love for each other. With this being Cornell's home opener the Lynah faithful will be rocking making this an even greater challenge. Getting out to an early lead would serve Quinnipiac well in order to quiet what is expected to be a very hostile environment.

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

Monday, November 14, 2016

Quinnipiac Hockey recruiting notes 11/14/2016

It was a great weekend for Quinnipiac hockey sweeping both Dartmouth and Harvard at home in ECAC play and some future Bobcats also had good weekends with their respective juniors teams.

Odeen Tufto (photo by Dan Hickling)
1997 forward Odeen Tufto who has already signed a national letter of intent last year with Quinnipiac had a very good weekend for the Fargo Force. In three games he had two goals and two assists. He is tied for 4th in team scoring for Fargo with nine points (2 goals and 7 assists) in 15 games played. Tufto is in his first season for Fargo after spending the 2015-16 season with the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League where he had 65 points (25 goals and 40 assists) in 57 games. The Minnesota native is expected to arrive in Hamden for the fall of 2017.

1998 defenseman Zach Metsa had two assists for the Merritt Centennials (BCHL) this past weekend and now has 14 assists in 24 games played this year.

1996 forward Matt Forchuk had only one assist this weekend for the Canmore Eagles in a game against the Brooks Bandits. He has cooled of since his blazing hot start and has only two assists since announcing his commitment to Quinnipiac on November 1st. He has not scored a goal since October 30th and is also no longer leading the AJHL in scoring.

Justin Robbins (photo by North Jersey Avalanche)
1999 goaltender Justin Robbins of the North Jersey Avalanche had a big weekend against the west coast Tier I elite hockey teams. He had two shutouts on the weekend over the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes and the LA Jr. Kings making a total of 57 saves in the two shutouts. In ten Tier I games this year he is 8-1 with a 2.20 GAA and a .924 save percentage with two shutouts. Robbins is property of the Chicago Steel as an affiliate player.

1999 forward Corey Clifton, a teammate of fellow commit Justin Robbins had a four point weekend for the North Jersey Avalanche as they swept four games against west coast Tier I Elite Hockey Leage teams. He finished with a goal and three assists for the weekend. The younger brother of current Bobcats Tim and Connor Clifton, Corey now has 14 points (3 goals and 11 assists) in 15 Tier I games.

1998 defenseman TJ Brown picked up another assist for the Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL) and now has three goals and eight assists in 22 games played from the blue line.

1997 forward Daniel Winslow had a goal and two assists in three games for the New Jersey Hitmen Premier team over the weekend. On the season he now has seven goals and five assists in 21 games played.

2002 forward Jacob Quillan had a three point weekend with a goal and two assists. The youngest player on the Steel Subaru Major Midgets now has nine points on the season (2 goals and 7 assists) in 15 games played.

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