Monday, January 30, 2017

Quinnipiac recruiting notes 1/30/2017

It was a tough weekend for Quinnipiac as they ended up splitting a weekend series against a second year program in Arizona State. After a solid 5-2 win on Friday night the Bobcats made mistakes defensively which contributed to a 4-2 loss Saturday giving the Sun Devils their biggest win in program history to date. Quinnipiac has seven games left in the regular season with all in the ECAC and even winning out would get the Bobcats to #18 in the pairwise as currently constituted before any other results come in to play. With that said lets take a look at what some of the future Bobcats did over the weekend.

A couple of future Bobcats playing for the 15-U Selects Academy team at the South Kent School won the 2017 Mid Winter AAA Classic Invitational in Detroit, Michigan. 2001 forwards Ethan Phillips and P.J. Fletcher helped lead South Kent to the tournament title. Phillips played in five of the six tournament games and had 13 points (6 goals and 7 assists) while Fletcher played in all six games showing outstanding play-making ability and physicality. He finished the weekend with 10 points (3 goals and 7 assists). In 42 games played this season Phillips has 62 points (29 goals and 33 assists) while Fletcher in 46 games played has 51 points (19 goals and 32 assists).

Ethan Phillips (photo by South Kent School)

P.J. Fletcher (photo by South Kent School)
2001 defenseman Dom Fensore continues to put up points from the blue line for the P.A.L Junior Islanders 16U team (USPHL). Over the weekend in four games played Fensore had a goal and three assists. In 18 games played he has 23 points (9 goals and 14 assists). One has wonder if he could be in a mold similar to Adam Fox of Harvard who was taken in the third round of the 2016 draft by the Calgary Flames. Fox is 5'10 but he is an excellent puck mover and has the ability to score as well. Currently, Fensore is only 5'8 but he still only 15 years old and won't turn 16 until September of this year so one would think he still has some more growth in him. Jeff Cox of SB Nation had nothing but good things to say when he saw him at the USPHL All Star Game. Here is the link to his story.

Another weekend another multi point game for 1996 forward Matt Forchuk. In two games played this weekend he had five assists including a four assist game on Saturday in a 7-3 win for the Canmore Eagles (AJHL). Forchuk has only been held scoreless in seven of his 42 games played this season which is an astonishing number. In those 42 games played he has 69 points (21 goals and 48 assists) and averaging 1.6 points per game this year. He should be someone that will make an impact for the 2017-18 Quinnipiac team when he arrives in Hamden.

Dom Fensore (photo by the Scouting News)
1997 forward Odeen Tufto had a very good week for his new team the Tri-City Storm (USHL). He had a two goal and two assist week highlighted by his three point night on January 24th against the Omaha Lancers but it was his goal on Saturday against Team USA that was eye opening. He tucked the puck home in a tight opening past Keegan Karki a North Dakota commit. Check out the video here. Tufto will be part of the 2017 recruiting class that will also feature Matt Forchuk and likely Keith Petruzzelli as some of the headliners. 

Matt Fawcett continues to remain hot for the Winchendon School. The 1999 forward out of Rhode Island is now averaging two points per game. In 18 games played he has 36 points (16 goals and 20 assists). A season ago with Winchendon he had 38 points in 28 games played so he is well ahead of last years pace. I'd expect him to play next season in the USHL for the Sioux City Musketeers where he already played in two games this year. I have him projected to arrive in Hamden in the fall of 2019 but depending on his development could be pushed to 2018 depending on early departures, transfers, etc.

1997 forward Daniel Winslow had two goals in a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Jr Flyers for the New Jersey Hitmen Premier team (USPHL). In 36 games the Fairfield, CT native has 21 points (13 goals and 8 assists).

1998 defenseman TJ Brown of the Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL) has three points (1 goal and 2 assists) in his last five games. On the season in 47 games played Brown has 23 points (4 goals and 19 assists).

1998 forward John DeRoche is no longer committed to Quinnipiac. The Lynnfield, MA native started the season with Cedar Rapids in the USHL before being traded to the Topeka RoadRunners of the NAHL. He had 19 points in 22 games for the RoadRunners.

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

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Quinnipiac upset by Arizona State 4-2

The No. 17 Quinnipiac Bobcats fell 4-2 on Saturday night to the Arizona State Sun Devils in a sloppy game marred by defensive breakdowns and foolish penalties. With the loss the Bobcats cannot finish the regular season in the top 16 of the pairwise and now must win the ECAC tournament if they want to reach the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive season. Come Monday the Bobcats are almost assured of falling out of the top 20 in the polls for the first time since October 27, 2014.

Joey Daccord (photo courtesy of Sun Devils Athletics)
The teams came out to a slow pace in the first period putting very few shots on net in the early going. Almost three quarters of the way through the period Arizona State struck first on a poor defensive effort by Joe Fiala who was in the lineup due to the injuries of both Derek Smith and Kevin McKernan. The Sun Devils Dylan Holloman got the puck around Fiala at the boards and fed it to a wide open Anthony Croston for the goal. Two minutes later the Bobcats took a too many men on the ice penalty. Just six seconds into the power play Arizona State won the face off and the puck ended up to the point where Brinson Pasichnuk blasted one home for a 2-0 Sun Devils lead. Jakob Stridsberg and Dylan Hollman picked up the assists on the goal. The Bobcats out shot the Sun Devils 11-8 in the opening frame. 

Early in the second period the Bobcats had a defensive giveaway on a mishandled puck by Karlis Cukste leading to an unassisted goal by Anthony Croston for a 3-0 Sun Devils lead. Freshman Andrew Shortridge was replaced in net by Chris Truehl. For most of the first part of the second period the Bobcats could not do much. They finally broke through on a power play goal by Tim Clifton on a wrist shot past the Sun Devil's Joey Daccord to cut Arizona State's lead to 3-1 to swing momentum towards Quinnipiac. That momentum was short lived when Jakob Stridsberg's shot front the point beat Truehl to swing the tide back into the Sun Devils favor. Quinnipiac out shot the Sun Devils 16-10 in the middle frame. 
Tim Clifton (photo by Tampa Bay Times)
The Bobcats dominated every bit of the third period except where it mattered the most on the scoreboard. Connor Clifton's wrist shot redirected off an Arizona State defenseman almost six minutes into the third period to cut the Sun Devils lead in half. Craig Martin and Tim Clifton got assists on the goal. Quinnipiac continued to pepper Daccord with shot after shot to no avail and finished third period out shooting the Sun Devils an astounding 28-1 and 55-19 for the game.

The difference in the game was the play of Daccord in net who had 53 saves on the night for the Sun Devils in the biggest win in the two year old program's history. The Bobcats with the loss fall to 14-11-2 and now head back into ECAC play for the rest of the regular season. Next weekend Quinnipiac heads on the road to Providence to face Brown University on Friday followed by a short trip down Whitney Avenue to face rival Yale on Saturday.

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

Friday, January 27, 2017

Priskie's two power play goals help lead Quinnipiac past Arizona State 5-2

The No. 17 Quinnipiac Bobcats returned to action this weekend defeating the Sun Devils of Arizona State University 5-2 on Friday night at High Point Solutions Arena. The second year Division I program made its second trip to Hamden in as many seasons but showed they still have a long way to go in order to become a top program. The men’s ice hockey team celebrated the arena’s ten-year anniversary with a ceremonial puck drop by Quinnipiac’s president John Lahey.

The Bobcats got out to a quick start in the first period when senior captain Connor Clifton slipped past a defender on the blue line all the way to the net putting a wrist shot past Arizona State goaltender Robert Levin. Clifton's goal at 3:18 was unassisted. Quinnipiac continued to dominate throughout period pounding the Sun Devils with shot after shot but it wasn't until the latter stages of the period when the Bobcats got on the scoreboard again. After a Ryan Belonger boarding penalty put the Bobcats on the power play the Sun Devils failed to clear the puck in front of the net and Bo Pieper put it home a 2-0 Quinnipiac lead. K.J. Tiefenwerth and Thomas Aldworth picked up the assists on Piepers 9th goal of the season. Quinnipiac dominated the shot total in the first period 25-5 against the Sun Devils.
Chase Priskie (photo by Matt Dewkett)
Just 14 seconds into the second period Alex Whelan cleaned up a rebound with a backhand shot past Levin for his second goal of the season. Bo Pieper and Kārlis Čukste assisted on the Whelan goal who has been really solid for the Bobcats in the past few months. He has been one of the better players creating traffic in front of the net and his goal tonight showed what he can bring to the table. Quinnipiac out shot Arizona State 15-9 in the second frame and 40-14 through two period. 

Bo Pieper (photo by Zack Wittman/Tampa Bay Times)
Once again the Bobcats got on the board just 38 seconds into the third period when Chase Priskie ripped a shot past Levin from the bottom left circle for a power play goal to make it 4-0. Brogan Rafferty and Tim Clifton got assists on Priskie's goal. Four minutes later the Sun Devils got on the scoreboard when Wade Murphy ripped a shot from the top right circle past Andrew Shortridge for the goal. It was the 8th of the season for Murphy who transferred from North Dakota to the desert. The Bobcats closed out the scoring on their end with yet another power play goal from Chase Priskie his second of the game and fourth goal of the season when he ripped a one timer from the bottom left circle on a pass from Rafferty. Craig Martin also got an assist on the goal and this was Rafferty's 18th assist of the season as he leads the Bobcats in scoring as a freshman defenseman. The Sun Devils made it 5-2 on a goal by Jack Rowe at the 17:23 mark of the period. Quinnipiac out shot Arizona State 17-8 in the final frame and 57-22 for the game. 

The teams combined for 24 minor penalties and 48 penalty minutes. Quinnipiac went 3 for 10 on the power play and dominated the Sun Devils on face offs 46-23. Freshman Andrew Shortridge made 20 saves in the win to pick up his 5th win of the season and third in the last four games. Quinnipiac and Arizona State return to action Saturday night at 7pm for the Bobcats last non conference game of the year.

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Scouting the enemy: Arizona State Sun Devils

The No. 17 Quinnipiac Bobcats return to the ice this weekend with their final non conference games of the season when they welcome the Arizona State Sun Devils to the cold confines of the northeast. The Bobcats were off last weekend as other ECAC teams were in action. Quinnipiac comes into the weekend in fourth place in the ECAC and its possible when the weekend ends they may be in sixth place in the conference depending on how Cornell and Clarkson fare on the weekend as these are the two teams directly behind the Bobcats.

This weekend against the Sun Devils will not do anything for Quinnipiac in the pairwise if they win. If they lose that is another story as it will be beyond damaging to their NCAA's at-large chances. I personally would like to see them play better teams than Arizona State but I can see why coach Pecknold does this. He is showing the same courtesy that good teams showed when Quinnipiac was building their program back in the late 1990's and early 2000's. Arizona State won't forget this when they become good should they want to schedule Quinnipiac again in the future.

Head coach Greg Powers has done a solid job in year two for the Sun Devils. On the season Arizona State is 9-17-2. They have seven division wins this season including big wins over Air Force and on the road at the University of New Hampshire. They also had an impressive 2-2 tie against Ohio State a team ranked 8th in the pairwise rankings. This is a program that has played a difficult schedule this season with games against Notre Dame, Air Force, Northeastern, Harvard, Michigan, New Hampshire, Boston College, Penn State, St. Cloud State, Denver and Ohio State. They have been competitive in a lot of these games even if the results have not been fully there yet. A season ago Quinnipiac defeated Arizona State 5-0 in October 2015 in the first ever meeting between the programs which was the Sun Devils third ever Division I games. Thomas Aldworth had two goals and an assist in that game and the Bobcats out shot them 57-14. The rest of the goal scorers in that game for the Bobcats have either graduated or departed early for the pros.
Robbie Baillargeon (photo by Arizona State Athletics)
On offense Arizona State has shown solid improvement from a season ago. They average 2.89 goals per game which is 33rd in the country so right in the middle of the pack. Quinnipiac is just a shade better at 2,92 goals per games good for a tie for 30th in the country. They have some size up front that possibly could give the Bobcats some problems. The Sun Devils top scorer is senior Robbie Baillargeon (2012 5th round, Ottawa) has 20 points (9 goals and 11 assists). Baillargeon an Enfield, CT native played his first three college seasons with Boston University before transferring out to the desert. Junior Wade Murphy (2013 7th round, Nashville) who transferred from North Dakota has 16 points (7 goals and 9 assists) while they are getting really nice production from three underclassmen. Freshman Tyler Busch has 16 points (7 goals and 9 assists) while sophomores Louie Rowe and Anthony Croston have 14 and 13 points respectively. As a team they are averaging 24.6 shots per game. The Sun Devils on the power play are not very good scoring only on 13.60% of their chances (17 of 125) good for 51st in the country. The Bobcats are solid on the penalty kill at 84.3% (107 of 127) which ranks 25th in the country but down from where they were a season ago. If Quinnipiac can play vintage Bobcat hockey on defense where they block shots and keep opponents to the side boards they should be able to take the Sun Devils out of their game.

On defense the Sun Devils are not as bad as some of the numbers show. While they give up 4.18 goals per game which ranks them 58th they have faced seven of the top sixteen offenses in the country this season. Quinnipiac is not one of those teams and has had trouble at times scoring goals this season. The Sun Devils best defender this year has been freshman Brinson Pasichnuk. He is the teams top scorer from the blue line with 12 points (6 goals and 6 assists) but also has three power play goals and two game winning goals. What is even more impressive is his willingness to do the little things like blocking shots and he leads the Sun Devils with an astounding 50 blocks this season. That is 18 more than sophomore Jakob Stridsberg who has also been solid this season as well with 11 points (6 goals and 5 assists). Arizona State is one of the more heavily penalized teams at 16.43 minutes per game so Quinnipiac should be able to exploit the Sun Devils on the power play even though they convert on only 17.79% of their opportunities (29 of 163). The Sun Devils are not very good on the penalty kill as they have only killed off 75.9% of opposing teams power plays which is good for 54th in the country. The Bobcats have to play aggressive and have to be able to have a strong fore-check in this game to create mistakes from the Sun Devils.
Brinson Pasichnuk (photo by Getty Images)

Arizona State has yet to find consistent goal-tending this year as they have played all three goaltenders on the roster this season. They have senior Robert Levin, sophomore Ryland Pashovitz and freshman Joey Daccord. All have struggled at times this year and none of them have been able to get into a good rhythm. It really remains to be seen who Greg Powers will start on Friday. It wouldn't shock me if all three goaltenders saw action this weekend for the Sun Devils depending on how the weekend plays out.

This is really an important weekend for the Bobcats as they need to start building confidence down the stretch. They can not afford to have many slip ups down the stretch and a slip up against a team like this would be devastating and destroy any at-large chances which are already dwindling away. Quinnipiac is a more experienced team compared to Arizona State which has 19 of 27 players who are underclassmen. If Quinnipiac can play to the teams strengths and find their identity then they should have no problem sweeping this team. If they don't give a quality effort and don't play to their identity then the Sun Devils will give them problems.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Q&A with Quinnipiac commit Mike Lombardi

Quinnipiac recently picked up a verbal commitment from 1998 forward Mike Lombardi, a Rhode Island native playing at Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire which is one of the top prep schools in the northeast for hockey. Lombardi is the fourth 1998 born player to choose Quinnipiac out of 25 future commitments following Zach Metsa, Khristian Acosta and T.J. Brown. I had a chance to catch up with him as he was gratuitous to give me some of this time for a question and answer session.

Mike Lombardi (photo courtesy of Mike Lombardi twitter)

Jonathan Singer: First of all congratulations on your verbal commitment to Quinnipiac. Tell us how your recruiting process went?

Mike Lombardi: My recruiting process was extremely stressful but also fun. I had a few schools that I looked at, but once I stepped on campus at Quinnipiac I knew that this was the place for me.

Jonathan Singer: What other schools were you considering besides Quinnipiac? What separated Quinnipiac from those other schools?

Mike Lombardi: I visited UMass Amherst and Providence College. What separated Quinnipiac for me was the chance to compete for a national championship every year. I also wanted the chance to play for head coach [Rand] Pecknold, associate coach [Bill] Riga and associate coach [Joe] Dumais.

Jonathan Singer: Currently you play for a coach at Kimball Union in Tim Whitehead who has taken seven teams to the NCAA tournament with four trips to the Frozen Four during his time at the University of Maine. What is it like playing for such an accomplished coach and what have you learned from him?

Mike Lombardi: I owe everything to coach Whitehead. He has taught me so much about the game and I'm so lucky to have been able to play for him. Not too many high school kids get the chance to play for someone who has won at every level like him.

Jonathan Singer: Did coach Whitehead play a part in helping you make a decision on which college to attend considering he has strong ties to many coaches in the college game?

Mike Lombardi: He advised me but ultimately told me it was my decision to make and that he would support it, regardless of where I went. Coach Whitehead had coached Bill Riga at UMass Lowell so they stayed in contact throughout the process.

Jonathan Singer: What type of game do you play when you are on the ice? Is it more of a power game or finesse game? Are you someone who likes to be one of the leaders on team?

Mike Lombardi: I play more of a power game in which I like to use my speed and my body to protect the puck. I like to be able to make plays on the rush. I'm an assistant captain at Kimball Union and I like to be a leader. I want to be someone who is able to lead the way for our team.

Jonathan Singer: Outside of Kimball Union, you also play for the Boston Junior. Bruins U-18 short season team. What is the type of play like in that league and is it made up of more prep players looking to play in more games than what the prep season has to offer?

Mike Lombardi: I played for the Boston Junior Bruins in the fall before the Kimball Union season began. It is mostly prep school players and on the Junior Bruins team there were also eight Kimball Union players that I played with. Most prep teams have a few guys on each team. Once the Kimball Union season begins the Boston Junior Bruins season ends.

Jonathan Singer:  You graduate from Kimball Union this spring. At this time you have not been drafted by a USHL team. Is the goal to be drafted in the USHL Phase II draft and hopefully play there next season or another league like the BCHL or NAHL?

Mike Lombardi: I am hoping to be drafted this spring in the USHL draft but I may also play in the BCHL next season.

Jonathan Singer: What are some of the things you want to improve on in your game as you move into junior hockey next season before you reach Quinnipiac?

Mike Lombardi: I definitely want to get stronger and faster as I need to put on some weight before I can make that jump to the Division I level to play for Quinnipiac.

Jonathan Singer: Is it the expectation that you will arrive at Quinnipiac in the fall of 2018 or does it depend on how your development progresses?

Mike Lombardi: I think the plan right now is to enter Quinnipiac for the fall of 2018.

Jonathan Singer: You are the third future Bobcat commit from the state of Rhode Island following Matt Creamer and Matt Fawcett. Did you talk to any of them before deciding on Quinnipiac?

Mike Lombardi: I know both of them extremely well but I did not talk to them before making my decision. With them committed to Quinnipiac I knew it would make the transition so much easier because those guys are good friends of mine.

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

Monday, January 23, 2017

Quinnipiac recruiting notes 1/23/2017

This past weekend the Quinnipiac Bobcats were off so it made a good weekend to have a little Quinnipiac reunion with some old friends as we all gathered down in Hamden for a couple of days. I got the chance to watch some Quinnipiac men's basketball in a win over Canisius College. The rest of the ECAC played and the weekend ended with the Bobcats still in fourth place in the league but three of the teams right below Quinnipiac have multiple games in hand on them. Let's take a look at how some of the future Bobcats did over the past week as a few of them exploded for multi point games.
Matthew Fawcett (photo by Winchendon School)
Winchendon 1999 forward Matthew Fawcett exploded for an eight point week in two games for his prep school with three goals and five assists. Fawcett now has 29 points (12 goals and 17 assists) in 15 games played and is averaging 1.93 points per game. Fawcett is also splitting his time playing for the Eastern Mass Senators U-18 team. In 23 games played he has 53 points (24 goals and 29 assists). He is averaging 2.30 points per game. He is putting together a really good resume for him to make the Sioux City Musketeers for next season in the USHL.

Dom Fensore (photo by the Scouting News)
2001 defenseman Dom Fensore continues to impress with a five point weekend (2 goals and 3 assists) in three games for the PAL Jr. Islanders 16U team in the USPHL. The highly talented puck moving defenseman has 19 points (8 goals and 11 assists) in 14 games played with seven points on the power play (3 goals and 4 assists). He continues to show why he should get an invite to the national development camp.

Matt Forchuk (photo by Pam Doyle)
It was another good week for 1996 forward Matt Forchuk who had a four assist game on Saturday for the Canmore Eagles (AJHL). In 40 games played he has 21 goals and 43 assists (64 points) and is second in the AJHL in scoring. He is averaging 1.6 points per game and has 30 power play points (8 goals and 22 assists). He will bring much needed scoring to Hamden in the fall of 2017.

It was the season debut of 1996 defenseman Joe O'Connor for the Brooks Bandits (AJHL) this past weekend as he saw action in two games. The Hamden, Connecticut native has been out the majority of the season with an upper body injury. O'Connor, a former Vermont commit had 52 points last season for Brooks before switching his commitment to Quinnipiac. He will bring size to the Bobcats blue line as part of the 2017 recruiting class.

The most recent commit Mike Lombardi the 1998 forward playing for Kimball Union had a goal and two assists in two games. He now has 34 points (13 goals and 21 assists) in 25 games played. Lombardi also plays for the Boston Jr. Bruins Selects U18 team and has 22 points (9 goals and 13 assists) in 14 games played. Check out my piece on his commitment.

1998 defenseman Zach Metsa had a goal and two assists in two games for Merritt Centennials (BCHL). His lone goal on the weekend was a power play goal. On the season he has 3 goals and 21 assists in 44 games from the blue line and plays with a lot of discipline only taking four penalty minutes all season.

1997 forward Odeen Tufto was traded to the Tri-City Storm (USHL) from the Fargo Force (USHL). He played his first two games for the Storm this weekend and had one assist. He previously had not played since January 7th. On the season Tufto has 22 points (5 goals and 17 assists) in 32 games played. He is part of the Bobcats 2017 recruiting class.

1999 goaltender Keith Petruzzelli of the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) pitched a 20 save shutout with a shootout win over Green Bay on Saturday. It was his second shutout of the year. This past week Petruzzelli was named the top North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting. In 21 games played he is 12-7 with a 2.55 goals against average, a .911 save percentage and two shutouts.

New Jersey Hitmen 1997 forward Ryan Finnegan had a three point weekend with two goals and an assist.  In 17 games played since moving to the USPHL from the BCHL Finnegan has 16 points (6 goals and 10 assists) with 5 power play points (2 goals and 3 assists).

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

1998 forward Mike Lombardi commits to Quinnipiac

Kimball Union Academy senior Mike Lombardi, a 1998 forward has committed to Quinnipiac University. The 6'1 180 pound forward out of Barrington, Rhode Island has played the last three years at Kimball Union under former University of Maine head coach Tim Whitehead. He has seen steady improvement each season going 6 points in 32 games in the 2014-15 season to 33 points in 35 games in the 2015-16. This season he leads the team in scoring with 31 points (12 goals and 19 assists) in 23 games played and is averaging 1.35 points per game and is also one of the captains of the team.
Mike Lombardi (photo courtesy of Mike Lombardi's twitter)
The hockey recruiting website Neutral Zone had this to say about Lombardi.

3.5 star prospect Mike Lombardi commits to Quinnipiac. A hard nosed, skilled fwd who can play both a power game or a finesse game

98 F Michael Lombardi (QU) is a budding 6'1 power forward who is rarely outworked. Great puck protector, strong & productive. Nice add by QU

Lombardi also plays for the Boston Jr. Bruins Selects U18 team and has 22 points (9 goals and 13 assists) in 14 games played. He has yet to be drafted by a USHL team so there is a solid chance he will hear his name called in the 2017 Phase II draft this spring. I'd expect him to get more seasoning with either a USHL team or possibly a BCHL team for the next year or two before coming to Hamden. Lombardi is third future Bobcat commit out of the state of Rhode Island following Matthew Creamer and Matthew Fawcett.

Here are some links on Mike Lombardi.

Elite Prospects
Neutral Zone

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Quinnipiac commit Keith Petruzzelli ranked top North American goaltender by central scouting

Quinnipiac hockey commit and current Muskegon Lumberjacks goaltender Keith Petruzzelli is ranked as the number one North American goaltender for the NHL's mid term central scouting list. The Wilbraham, Massachusetts native becomes the first ever Bobcat commit to top a central scouting list of any kind. Petruzzelli is coming off a dominant performance a week ago at the USHL/NHL top prospects game when he had 21 saves in just over 27 minutes of game action in relief of starter Maksim Zhukov.

Keith Petruzzelli (photo by Muskegon Lumberjacks)

Here is what central scouting had to say about Petruzzelli. The rest of the rankings are in this link.

"[Petruzzelli] uses his size effectively, is very calm and relaxed," Al Jensen of NHL Central Scouting said. "He has shown steady improvement and has turned into an excellent NHL goalie prospect. His style resembles Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray."

Its a testament to all the hard work he has put in the past couple of seasons starting when he played for Springfield Cathedral and the Boston Jr. Bruins before moving on for a season of development at the South Kent School prior to arriving as a rookie this season with Muskegon. Prior to the release of these mid term rankings, Petruzzelli was rated as a B prospect with central scouting which is a second to third round grade. Its possible with him topping the North American rankings he has moved up even further cementing him as someone who should go in the second round with maybe even a chance of getting into the first round of the 2017 NHL draft.

Petruzzelli, who committed to Quinnipiac (with his brother D.J.) back in December of 2013 when he was a freshman at Springfield Cathedral High School is 11-7 with a 2.71 goals against average and a .908 save percentage with one shutout in 20 games played for Muskegon. He is likely to arrive in Hamden for the fall of 2017.

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Quinnipiac recruiting notes 1/17/2017

It was an up and down weekend for the Quinnipiac Bobcats as they returned to the High Point Solutions Arena for the first time in a month. After winning 4-1 on Friday against Colgate when the team displayed a vintage Quinnipiac performance, Saturday was a different story as the Bobcats could only muster one goal on twenty shots as the Cornell Big Red defense suffocated Quinnipiac in a 2-1 loss. The Bobcats need to win out in the regular season to at least reach #13 in the pairwise rankings and that is without any other results taking place. With that said lets move on to the performances of some future Bobcats over the last week of games.

Justin Robbins (photo by North Jersey Avalanche)
North Jersey Avalanche 1999 goaltender Justin Robbins picked up four wins over the weekend in Tier I action. On Saturday he made 26 saves in a 4-3 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite. He played in two games on Sunday as he shut out the Cleveland Barons with 15 saves and in the second game he had 27 saves in a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Jr Sabres. On Monday he made 31 saves in a 5-4 win over the Ohio Blue Jackets In 19 Tier I games for North Jersey he is 17-1 with a 1.82 goals against average and a .933 save percentage with five shutouts. His North Jersey team is 28-1 this year in Tier I games. His USHL rights are held by the Chicago Steel and the hope is he will make the team full time next season.

Matt Forchuk (photo by Pam Doyle)
Canmore Eagles (AJHL) 1996 forward Matt Forchuk had two goals and one assist in three games over the past week. He is tied for the league scoring lead with his teammate Logan Ferguson with 60 points (21 goals and 39 assists) in 38 games played. 8 of this 21 goals this season are on the power play along with 3 short-handed goals. The Bobcats will need his scoring ability to show up immediately next season when he arrives in Hamden.
Nicholas Kent (photo by Delta Hockey Academy)
2001 defenseman Nicholas Kent had a his best game of the weekend this past Saturday for the Delta Hockey Academy Elite 15's when he had a goal and two assists. In 20 games played this season, the Ladera Ranch, CA native has 1 goal and 17 assists. His lone goal was on the power play. Kent was already drafted in the 7th round, 147th overall by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. He is eligible to be drafted in the 2017 USHL Phase I draft this year.

1999 forward Matt Fawcett had two goals and two assists over the past week and now has 21 points (9 goals and 12 assists) in 13 games for Winchendon. He is averaging 1.62 points per game in prep action. Fawcett is also splitting his time playing for the Eastern Mass Senators U-18 team. In 23 games played he has 53 points (24 goals and 29 assists). He is averaging 2.30 points per game. His USHL rights are held by the Sioux City Musketeers and he has already played two games for them this season. He was also previously drafted by the the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. The hope for him is that is playing for Sioux City regularly next season.

2000 defenseman Peter Diliberatore had two assists this past week for the Salisbury School. In 17 games played on the blue he had 7 points (3 goals and 4 assists). His USHL rights are held by Sioux Falls Stampede and the Halifax Mooseheads own his rights in the QMJHL. The hope would be for Diliberatore to finish this season strong with Salisbury and then earn a spot with Sioux Falls next fall.

2001 defenseman Domenick Fensore was featured in Jeff Cox's USPHL all-star game report for SB Nation. He still likes Fensore as someone that will likely get an invitation to the NTDP Evaluation Camp.

I highlighted 1999 goaltender Keith Petruzzelli's shining in the USHL/NHL top prospects game last week here. Petruzzelli struggled in his first game since the top prospects game when he gave up five goals on 34 shots in a 5-4 loss to the Madison Capitols. Its only the third game this season that he has given up five or more goals in a game.

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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Quinnipiac falls to Cornell 2-1

The No. 15/15 Quinnipiac Bobcats fell on Saturday night 2-1 in a crucial game to the No. 19 Cornell Big Red. After a solid win last night against Colgate with the offense breaking out for four goals, the Bobcats could only muster one goal in tonight's game. Head coach Rand Pecknold turned to freshman Andrew Shortridge in net for third consecutive game. Its looks as if the their may be a changing of the guard in between the pipes for the Bobcats.

Mitch Gillam (photo by Ned Dykes/Cornell University Athletics)
In the first period Cornell came out strong in the first period taking it to the Bobcats early in the period. The Big Red got on the board early in the period on captain Jeff Kubiak's second goal of the season. Brendan Smith and Mitch Vanderlaan picked up assists on Kubiak's goal. Almost three minutes later the Bobcats responded with a power play goal when Craig Martin took a Brogan Rafferty pass and bombed a shot from the top left circle past Mitch Gillam. Rafferty and Chase Priskie assisted on Martin's goal. Each team traded a pair of penalties in the first period. Cornell out shot Quinnipiac 9-8 in the opening frame.

In the second period Cornell really took it to Quinnipiac in the period. The Big Red really buckled down on defense and limited the scoring opportunities for the Bobcats. Midway through the period the Big Red scored on the power play by Alex Rauter on assists by Matt Buckles and Alec McCrea. Cornell finished the period out shooting the Bobcats 14-4.
Andrew Shortridge (photo by Mary Schwalm/Boston Globe)

In the third period Cornell turned to one of the best defenses in the country to take over the game and shut the Bobcats down offensively. Despite a couple of Quinnipiac power plays, Cornell's defense suffocated the Bobcats into submission in the third period making Alex Rauter's second period goal hold up as the game winning goal. The teams both had eight shots apiece in the third period and Cornell out shot Quinnipiac for the game 31-20. Despite the loss Andrew Shortridge was strong in net making 29 saves. Cornell finished the game blocking 16 Quinnipiac shots. 

With the loss the Bobcats fall to 13-10-2 and drop from 19th in the 24th in the pairwise rankings. Cornell moves to 11-4-1 on the season and up to 11th in the pairwise rankings. Its the first time since the 2011-2012 season the Bobcats have lost more than ten games in regular season. Quinnipiac returns to action in two weeks when they host Arizona State in non conference action. 

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

Quinnipiac returns to form in 4-1 win over Colgate

No. 15/15 Quinnipiac returned to the friendly confines of High Point Solutions Arena after more than a month away and they had the look of the team Quinnipiac fans are used to seeing on Friday night in a 4-1 victory over Colgate. Quinnipiac was aggressive, hungry and played with energy and a passion that had been missing for more than a month. For the first time since mid November, the Bobcats won back to back ECAC games when they won four straight in league play. It was a key win for Quinnipiac to maintain third place in the ECAC standings with 17 points. They have, however, played the most league games of any team with 14 so many teams have games in hand on the Bobcats down the stretch. The biggest change for the Bobcats was the decision to start freshman goaltender Andrew Shortridge in back to back games for the first time this season. He was very solid last week in the win against Dartmouth and in relief of Chris Truehl against Harvard last Friday night.
Landon Smith (photo by Kim Klement/USA Today)

Quinnipiac was the more dominant team early in the first period dictating the pace of the game. Midway through the first Colgate started to find its legs and fight back a bit. The Bobcats opened the scoring 12:47 into the first period when Landon Smith drove to the top left circle and sniped a wrist shot far side past Raiders goaltender Colton Point for the 1-0 lead. Kevin Duane and Kārlis Čukste assisted on the goal. It was a clean first period with no penalties called on either team. The Bobcats out shot Colgate 16-8 in the opening frame. 

In the second period the Bobcats were fantastic cleaning up on rebounds on Colton Point. Just 4:47 into the period Brogan Rafferty drove to the net and his shot was initially saved by Point but Bo Pieper was there to clean up the rebound for his 8th goal of the season. Rafferty and Kevin McKernan picked up the assists. A little under four minutes later, it was the Bobcats again cleaning up in front of the net when Luke Shiplo put one home after Point made the initial save on Čukste's chance. It was Shiplo's 4th of the season and was also assisted by Tommy Schutt. Colgate got a power play chance eight minutes later and capitalized when Jared Cockrell got a shot off through the Quinnipiac defense and past Shortridge for the goal to the cut lead to two goals. The Bobcats responded to the Colgate power play goal less than a minute later when Tanner MacMaster tapped a shot out of the air off a Point rebound for a 4-1 lead. It was Chase Priskie's initial shot that gave Point trouble as he and Craig Martin were credited with the assists for the Bobcats final goal of the game. Quinnipiac out shot Colgate 15-10 in the middle frame.
Andrew Shortridge, left (photo by Mary Schwalm/Boston Globe)

In the third period, the Quinnipiac defense suffocated the Colgate offense, limiting them to only seven shots. While the Bobcats didn't score again they did put 18 shots on goal in the period. Andrew Shortridge was strong in this game for the Bobcats making 24 saves whole Colton Point had 45 saves for the Raiders. Quinnipiac out shot Colgate 49-25 for the game and 100-49 in two games against Colgate this season. 

Even with the win the Bobcats dropped one spot in the pairwise from 18th to 19th. They return to action tomorrow night against Cornell who is 13th in the pairwise. It is an important game for the Bobcats for ECAC and pairwise implications.

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

Scouting the enemy: Cornell Big Red

One of the bigger games of the second half of the season for the No. 15/15 Quinnipiac Bobcats takes place Saturday at the High Point Solutions Arena when No. 19 Cornell comes to town. Head coach Mike Schaefer's team is hot winning seven of their last eight games and nine of their last eleven going into Friday night's game against Princeton. The only losses in that stretch were to Quinnipiac and Colorado College. Overall the Big Red are 9-4-1 and 4-2-1 in ECAC play sitting in 6th place with 9 points. However they have six ECAC games in hand on Quinnipiac and they are likely to rise in the standings. Currently 15th in the pairwise rankings this game has a lot of meaning for both teams looking to play into late March. After this weekend, Cornell will have nine of their last thirteen games on home ice at Lynah Rink which is a huge bonus for a team playing as well as the Big Red are right now. The Bobcats and the Big Red are tied in the all time series at 16-16-3 but Cornell holds an 8-7-2 advantage against the Bobcats in Hamden.

Mitch Vanderlaan (photo by Brittney Chew/Cornell Daily Sun)
The Big Red offensively are middle of the pack team as they rank 34th in the country in scoring with 2.86 goals per game. In league games that jumps to 3.14 goals ranking them 6th in the league. Up front the teams leading scorer is sophomore Mitch Vanderlaan who has 14 points (8 goals and 6 assists). He is a short fast forward that already has two game winning goals, a power play goal and a short handed goal. Patrick McCarron also has 14 points (2 goals and 12 assists) to tie Vanderlaan but his production comes via the blue line. McCarron also is a big contributor to the Big Red power play. Anthony Angello and Trevor Yates both have 9 points apiece while seniors Eric Freschi and Jake Weidner have a 7 apiece. Of the five draft picks that are forwards only Angello is a big contributor. On the power play Cornell only ranks 43rd nationally at 14.86% (11-of-74). This team has been finding ways to win even with an average offense so Quinnipiac needs to play smart on defense against the Big Red and not give them a lot of time or space and not give them any extra opportunities by way of the power play.
Patrick McCarron (photo by Cornell University Athletics)

Where the Big Red really excel is on defense which they have taken pride in over the years in Ithaca. When Cornell is at its best its because it has a great defense. That has shown this season for Mike Schaefer's squad. They are 6th in the country at 2.07 goals per game and 4th in ECAC games at 2.43 goals against. They have a top penalty kill ranked 5th in the country at 88.4% (61-of-69). They average 16.6 blocked shots going into this weekend with three players over 20 blocked shots this season. This is a defense that makes you work for everything you get and expect that to continue Saturday night. The leader is the captain, Patrick McCarron who has size, play making ability and will block shots. He has 24 blocked shots. Sophomore Alec McCrea has 35 blocked shots already this season and brings a lot of size on the blue line. The entire defensive core for Cornell brings a lot of size so Quinnipiac will need to have a great transition game and use a lot of speed in order to combat the size of the Big Red's defense.
Mitch Gillam (photo by Ned Dykes/Cornell University Athletics)

Veteran Mitch Gillam is starter in goal and has played in 13 of the 14 games so far this season for Cornell. He is 9-3-1 with a 2.16 goals against average and a .918 save percentage which is solid stats for him in between the pipes. He's a bit undersized but is athletic and is capable of playing big for his team in goal. He has been the starter since his sophomore year and has been really good for the Big Red the past three seasons. This will be Gillam's 9th start against the Bobcats in the past three seasons including a playoff series last year in Hamden so there is a lot of familiarity between the Bobcats and Gillam.

Expect this game to be fast and physical and even chippy at times like most Quinnipiac and Cornell games have been in recent years. This is a starting to become a solid rivalry especially with the hatred between the two head coaches. Add in the fact that this game has so much meaning with both team fighting for positioning in the pairwise rankings and the ECAC standings that this should be a dandy of a game. The only unfortunate part is that students are still on winter break. If Quinnipiac can win this game it will be important in adding to the pairwise resume and help potentially win any tiebreakers for possible home ice with Cornell down the road when it comes time for the ECAC playoffs.

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

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Scouting the enemy: Colgate Raiders

After 35 days the No. 15/15 Quinnipiac Bobcats finally return to play a home game at High Point Solutions Arena. While the students are still on winter break, the men's hockey team is trying to make its push towards a 5th consecutive NCAA tournament. Currently 18th in the pairwise rankings, Quinnipiac has to make up a lot of ground to position itself to have some breathing room come March. That won't be an easy thing to do with very few games against teams ranked ahead of them in the pairwise left on the schedule. The Colgate Raiders come to Hamden on Friday and they have struggled so far this season at 4-11-4 (2-4-1 ECAC). Colgate has lost six of their last seven games beginning with the first Quinnipiac game and also have lost five one goal games this season. While the record is not good for the Raiders they are playing hard for Don Vaughan unlike another team in the ECAC that has mailed it in for the season. Quinnipiac won the last meeting this year 7-3 on the road at Colgate at the new Class of 1965 Arena. Overall the Bobcats are 19-14-2 all time against the Raiders and hold a 9-4 record against them at home.
Adam Dauda (photo by Colgate Raiders Athletics)

It has been a challenge this season on offense for Colgate as they are consistently struggling to score goals. They rank 46th in the country in goals per game at 2.47 but that number drops to 2.29 in ECAC play making them the third worst offense in the ECAC outside of Dartmouth and RPI. They have a very young and inexperienced team up front that has been trying to improve on the fly over the course of the season. Four of the team's top five forwards are underclassmen. Sophomore Adam Dauda is tied for the team lead in scoring with 12 points (5 goals and 7 assists) with senior defenseman Jake Kulevich 12 points (3 goals and 9 assists). The lone draft pick is senior Tim Harrison who lead the team in goals with seven and has a total of 11 points on the years. Three freshman forwards have all shown some promise in Bobby McCann 11 points (4 goals and 7 assists), John Snodgrass 9 assists and Jared Cockrell 9 points (3 goals and 6 assists). These younger players are getting the experience they need now, which will benefit them a year or two down the road when Colgate hopes to turn this thing around. The Bobcats should play a similar game to what they did the last time against Colgate which was keep the Raiders to the boards limiting the amount of shots they put on net.

On defense Colgate has also struggled mightily this year giving up 3.37 goals per game ranking them 49th in the country. In ECAC play they give up 3 goals per game. Collectively the team is a minus 16 this year which shows part of their struggles on the back end. The last time these teams met, Quinnipiac pounded 51 shots on the the Colgate defense and goaltender Charlie Finn. Outside of seniors Brett Corkey and Jake Kulevich, Colgate has a lot of youth on the blue line that just isn't seasoned enough to face off against offenses that are more talented than them. Quinnipic needs to use their speed and physicality against the Colgate defense to their advantage to be able to force them into mistakes that will lead to scoring opportunities.
Jake Kulevich (photo by Bob Cornell/Colgate Athletics)

Senior Charlie Finn has gotten the majority of the workload playing in 14 of the 19 games for the Raiders. He has struggled a bit this season, but he has a young and inexperienced defense in front of him this year. On the season he is 3-8-3 with a 3.21 goals against average and a .900 save percentage. Those numbers are well below what he put up in his first two seasons for Colgate. Freshman Colton Point has played in four games and is the future in between the pipes for the Raiders. He is 1-2-1 with a 2.99 goals against average and an .886 save percentage. It wouldn't surprise me if Point got the start since Finn gave up seven goals the last time against Quinnipiac but I would still expect to see Finn in between the pipes.

This is a key game for Quinnipiac to pick up more ECAC points and to maintain there standing in the pairwise rankings. A loss to the Raiders might seal the Bobcats at-large fate as this would give them two losses to teams ranked 40th or below in the pairwise rankings.

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Quinnipiac commit shines at USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

We usually highlight the accomplishments by future Quinnipiac committed players in the weekly recruiting notes but this performance by a future Bobcat stood out and could not be overlooked until the upcoming Monday.

Keith Petruzelli, right (photo by Brandon Anderson)
Muskegon Lumberjacks 1999 goaltender, Keith Petruzzelli had an outstanding night at the 2017 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game which features many NHL draft prospects playing in the top junior hockey league in the United States. While Petruzzelli did not start for the Team East squad, he came on in relief midway through the second period after starting goaltender Maksim Zhukov gave up three goals on 14 shots. In just over 27 minutes of game action, the talented goaltender saved all 21 shots by the Team West squad. It was an impressive performance by Petruzzelli, who was named the Team East MVP, making him the first goaltender in the history of the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game to win a team MVP award in the five years that the game has existed.

With scouts from likely all of the NHL teams in attendance, Petruzzelli rated as a B level prospect by the NHL Central Scouting List likely opened some more eyes to some scouts thinking about taking a goaltender such as him in the upcoming 2017 NHL entry draft. As a B level prospect he is projected to go in the second or third round of the draft but it will be interesting to see if this performance will see his draft stock elevate even further than it was before this game.
Keith Petruzelli (photo by Muskegon Lumberjacks)

Petruzzelli, who committed to Quinnipiac (with his brother D.J.) back in December of 2013 when he was a freshman at Springfield Cathedral High School, has seen high stock rise considerably after two years at Cathedral along with a season as the South Kent School last year before becoming the starter with Muskegon this year. In 19 games played this season for the Lumberjacks, Petruzzelli is 11-6 with a 2.58 goals against average and a .912 save percentage with one shutout.

With the transfer of junior goaltender Sean Lawrence, its becoming likely he will enroll at Quinnipiac in the fall of 2017 as a true freshman unless the coaching staff wants him to develop one more season in juniors and recruits an older goaltender for next fall.

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