Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Andrew Shortridge named ECAC Rookie of the Week

Andrew Shortridge (photo by Hans Pennik/Times Union)
After a pair of weekend wins over Yale and Brown, freshman goaltender Andrew Shortridge was named the ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week as was announced by the league in a press release. Its the first career ECAC award for Shortridge, a native of Anchorage, Alaska who has given the Bobcats stability in goal in the second half of the season.

This past weekend Shortridge combined for 37 saves in two wins with a 1.50 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. After starting the season 2-2 he is 7-3 in his last ten starts in goal for Quinnipiac. On the season Shortridge is 9-5 with a 2.16 goals against average and a .915 save percentage with one shutout which came against the Brown Bears in a 1-0 win back on February 3rd.

The Bobcats are back in action as they take on the Brown Bears in a best of three first round series in the ECAC playoffs beginning Friday at the High Point Solutions Arena.

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

Monday, February 27, 2017

Quinnipiac recruiting notes 2/27/17

The Quinnipiac Bobcats men's ice hockey team finished the regular season with a record of 19-13-2 having earned the number five seed in the upcoming ECAC playoffs where they will face the Brown Bears in the opening round of the playoffs. Its the first time since the 2011-2012 season that Quinnipiac will open the playoffs in the first round having had a bye the last four seasons. With that said let's take a look at what some of the future Bobcats did as many of them are heading towards the playoffs or their season has ended.
Keith Petruzzelli (photo by Muskegon Lumberjacks)
There is no way we can start this notes column and not talk first about 1999 goaltender Keith Petruzzelli of the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL). The top rated North American goaltender in the Central Scouting Rankings who scored an empty goal on Friday night against the Madison Capitols from his own crease. You can check the video out here. Its an impressive play by Petruzzelli which requires a split second decision making to get this shot off instead of covering it up for the face-off which many other goaltenders possibly would have done. He shows tremendous ability to quickly control the puck put it on the ice in front of him and have quick stick work in order to flip it down the ice for the goal. On the season, Petruzzelli is 16-9 with a 2.61 goals against average and a .906 save percentage with two shutouts. His 16 wins are the most for a rookie goaltender in the USHL this season. The gem of the 2017 Quinnipiac recruiting class, its possible that he could get drafted in the first two rounds of the draft depending on which franchises are looking for a goaltender of the future.

Another one of the Bobcats incoming commits for 2017 continues to remain hot. 1996 forward Matt Forchuk of the Canmore Eagles (AJHL) is on an 11 game point streak (8 goals and 16 assists). In two games this past weekend he had two goals and four assists. He continues to remain the leading scorer in the AJHL with 93 points (29 goals and 64 assists) in 54 games. Canmore has two regular season games remaining so he would need a huge two games to reach 100 points for the season. He has missed four games this season which could have helped his point totals even more. The 93 points and counting are the most for an incoming recruit since Travis St. Denis had 88 points for the Penticton Vees (BCHL) in his final season of junior hockey. 
Matt Forchuk (photo by Pam Doyle)
1997 forward Odeen Tufto had two more assists this weekend for the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL). He is tied for 14th in scoring in the USHL with 33 points (9 goals and 24 assists). His 24 assists are tied for 7th in that category. A native of Chaska, Minnesota, Tufto has 12 points (4 goals and 8 assists) in his last 16 games between Sioux City and the Tri-City Storm. Tufto should become a solid play-maker for Quinnipiac along with the ability to score goals. He had 25 goals in his only season with the Vernon Vipers (BCHL) in the 2015-2016 campaign. He is part of the 2017 recruiting class.

1998 forward Michael Lombardi of Kimball Union Academy was named to the New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association First Team All-East. In 36 games played he has 47 points (19 goals and 28 assists). He is averaging 1.31 points per game this season. Kimball Union opens the Stuart/Corkery Elite 8 Tournament Quarterfinals on March 1st at the number three seed where they will take on the sixth seed Thayer Academy.

Two other prep players committed to Quinnipiac will play in the playoffs. 2000 defenseman Peter Diliberatore is playing for the seventh seeded Salisbury School in their match-up against second seed Dexter. Diliberatore finished his first season with Salisbury with 17 points (5 goals and 12 assists) in 29 games played. Its possible that Dilberatore and Lombardi could go head to head against each others team in the playoffs. 1999 forward Matthew Fawcett is playing for the number three seed Winchendon School in the Piatelli/Simmons Small School Tournament Quarterfinals against sixth seed Pomfret. Fawcett has had a big season for Winchendon scoring 51 points (23 goals and 28 assists) in 26 games played. He is on the affiliate list for the Sioux City Musketeers where he played two games for them this season.

Both 1997 forward Matthew Creamer of the Nanaimo Clippers and 1998 defenseman Zach Metsa of the  Merritt Centennials are both playing in the BCHL playoffs for their respective teams. Creamer, a native of Warwick, Rhode Island finished season as Nanaimo's second leading scorer with 36 points (19 goals and 17 assists) in 56 games played. Metsa in 57 games played has 27 points (3 goals 24 assists). He is tied for the team lead with 12 power play assists.

2001 forward Connor Tait helped lead the Gonzaga College High School to the MAPHL "AA" Division championship. Tait led the team in scoring in the playoffs with 8 points (5 goals and 3 assists). In 32 games played including playoffs for Gonzaga, Tait had 61 points (39 goals and 22 assists). He plays on a line with Providence College commit Cole Vallese. In January, Tait was a NCDC futures pick by the New Jersey Hitmen.

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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Quinnipiac ends regular season on high note in 4-1 win over Brown

The Quinnipiac Bobcats men's ice hockey team ended its regular season on a high note Saturday with a 4-1 win over the Brown Bears on senior night. It is the first three game winning streak for the Bobcats since winning four in a row in mid-November. Quinnipiac has won five out of its last seven games to finish the regular season 19-13-2 and the 5th seed in the ECAC playoffs where they will face these same Brown Bears for a first round series next week in Hamden. Prior to the game, six seniors were honored for their contributions to the men's ice hockey program over the last four seasons which included Connor and Tim Clifton, Derek Smith, Tommy Schutt, K.J. Tiefenwerth and Joe Fiala. This senior class still has a very solid chance at finishing with over 100 wins for their career as they currently sit at 98.

Nick Jermain (photo by Catherine Avalone/New Haven Register)
The two teams were scoreless for the majority of the first period before freshman Nick Jermain scored a highlight reel goal on Gavin Nieto giving the Bobcats the lead. Jermain made impressive moves around both the Brown defender and Nieto for his first goal at home this year. Kārlis Čukste and Kevin Duane picked up the assists on the goal. Not even a minute later, New Canaan, Connecticut product Charlie Corcoran scored his 15th goal of the season to even the score going into the first intermission.

Just fifty five seconds into the second period Tanner MacMaster potted his seventh goal of the season on assists from Bo Pieper and Landon. Quinnipiac picked up two more goals both from underclassmen when just a minute after the MacMaster goal it was Thomas Aldworth getting his seventh of the season from Jermain and Duane. Freshman Alex Whelan finished the Quinnipiac scoring for the night with a beauty of a goal high past Nieto. Čukste and Tiefenwerth picked up the assists.
Alex Whelan (photo by Jenn Hoffman/Pucks & Rec)
Quinnipiac out shot Brown 37-19 for the game while freshman goaltender Andrew Shortridge was solid in net again with 19 saves for his ninth win of the season. These two teams will meet again next Friday at 7 p.m. at the High Point Solutions Arena. Game two will be Saturday at 7 p.m. and if necessary, game three will be Sunday at 4 p.m. Quinnipiac has made the ECAC Final Four five times in their history but only one time coming out of the first round of the playoffs back in 2007 when they lost to Clarkson in the championship game.

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

Quinnipiac edges Yale 3-2, retains Heroes Hat

For the 13th time in 15 years the Quinnipiac Bobcats Men's Ice Hockey team won the Heroes Hat as they defeated their rival Yale 3-2 before an energetic crowd of 3,695 at High Point Solutions Arena. Its the ninth time they have won the Heroes Hat over Yale. The other four times were against UConn. Coming into Friday night's game the Bobcats still had an outside chance at a first round bye with some help. Rand Pecknold's squad did their part but they didn't get the help from Dartmouth as they fell 5-4 in back and forth game against Saint Lawrence giving the Saints the final first round bye.

Andrew Shortridge (photo by Hans Pennik/Times Union)
Pecknold turned to freshman Andrew Shortridge who has played well of late for the Bobcats in goal. Quinnipiac got off to a fast start in this one when Yale's Chris Izmirlian took a foolish goaltender interference penalty just a 1:20 into the game. The Bobcats capitalize not even a minute later when Craig Martin took a Tim Clifton pass who wristed one past a screened Sam Tucker for the goal. It was Martin's ninth tally of the season while Brogan Rafferty picked up a secondary assist his team leading 21st. Three minutes later Quinnipac was right back on the power play due to a Dan O'Keefe hooking call and just a minute into the power play it was Bo Pieper who struck for the Bobcats again on the man advantage when he cleaned up a Thomas Aldworth shot that Tucker could not handle. Connor Clifton also picked up an assist on the goal. The Bobcats killed off two Yale power plays towards the later half of the first period. Landon Smith scored an unassisted goal with thirty seconds left in the period when he went top shelf past Tucker giving the Bobcats a 3-0 lead heading into the locker room. Quinnipiac out shot the Bulldogs 14-6 in the opening frame.

Yale trimmed the lead to two goals just 21 seconds into the second period when John Hayden was all alone in the slot and put it past Shortridge for his 19th goal of the season. Joe Snively and Frankie DiChiara picked up the assists. Both teams traded early power plays to no avail. Yale carried the play throughout the majority of the second period putting many quality chances on Shortridge but the freshman stood tall especially when he came up huge on a Joe Snively breakaway chance to keep the score 3-1 along with another massive save with just under five minutes to play in the period. With a just a minute and a half left, Yale's Evan Smith cut the lead to one on his fourth goal of the season on an assist from Andrew Gaus. The Bulldogs also hit iron with less than ten seconds to play in the period before the horn sounded. Yale only out shot Quinnipiac 9-8 that period but had more higher quality chances on goal.
Craig Martin (photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)
The third period brought a lot of back and forth play between the teams. Five minutes into the period, Shortridge made another big save on a Yale two on one opportunity. Quinnipiac had a golden chance to extend the lead in the third period when they had a 5 on 3 power play that was ended less than a minute later when Kārlis Čukste took a tripping call. The teams played at even strength pretty much the entire rest of the way outside of a Yale too many men on the ice call half way through the period. Shortridge was strong for the Bobcats in the final frame saving all six Yale shots to finish with 19 for the game. The Bobcats also blocked 19 shots and Tim Clifton was dominant in the face-off circle winning 20 of 23.

With the win the Bobcats clinched the 5th seed in the ECAC tournament and will have home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Its the first time since the 2011-2012 season that Quinnipiac will be playing on the opening weekend of the ECAC playoffs. The Bobcats return to the ice for senior night tomorrow when they take on the Brown Bears the team they will face in the first round of the ECAC tournament.

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

Scouting the enemy: Brown Bears

The Quinnipiac Bobcats conclude the regular season with its senior night game against Brown on Saturday at the High Point Solutions Arena. Prior to the game the school will honor its six graduating seniors. The Bobcats still have a chance to get a first round bye depending on results of Friday's game against Yale and Saint Lawrence's game against Dartmouth. Should Quinnipiac win and Saint Lawrence were to lose it would put massive pressure on the Saints against Harvard on Saturday night in Cambridge. Brown comes into the weekend with a record of 4-21-1 (3-16 ECAC) and has a slim chance at the 11th seed and is more likely to finish at the bottom of the ECAC. They would need to sweep the weekend against Princeton and Quinnipiac while RPI gets swept against Cornell and Colgate. The Bears only have one win in their last 15 games.
Sam Lafferty (photo by Brown Bears Athletics)
The last six games Brown has only averaged 1.83 goals per game. In that stretch they are 0-5-1 with a the tie coming against Princeton. Quinnipiac and Harvard both shut out the Bears in that stretch. For the season they are averaging 2.26 goals per game which is good for 53rd in the country. They have four quality juniors in Sam Lafferty (32 points), Charlie Corcoran (25 points), Max Willman (23 points) and Tyler Bird (11 points). They don't have much depth outside of those four I mentioned putting a lot of pressure on these players to produce on an every game basis in order to carry the Bears. That just hasn't happened and teams have been able to neutralize them at times this year. The power play which was at 10.71% the last time these teams met has gotten worse. They are at the bottom of the country at 8.57% (9-of-105). I just don't see the Bears coming into Hamden and busting out with a great offensive performance especially if the Bobcats are still playing for a first round bye.

Defensively Brown has not improved much if at all. They have seen their goals against slightly drop from 4.19 the last time these teams met to 4.07 which still good for 59th in the country. There has been a lot of defensive rotations that head coach Brendan Whittet has used but he has yet to find the right combination of players back there leading to the teams poor defensive play and putting more pressure on the goaltenders to carry them which hasn't worked either. Quinnipiac's offense needs to play very aggressive along with being physical and take it to the Bears much like they did to RPI a week ago. The Bobcats need to make Brown play from behind so an early goal or two would be huge considering how limited they are offensively. Getting onto the power play would be beneficial for Quinnipiac considering how poor Brown is on the penalty kill at 72.1% (93-of-129) which is last in the country. Players like Chase Priskie and Brogan Rafferty could both be big in this game on the power play.

Charlie Corcoran (photo by Catherine Avalone/New Haven Register)
Freshman Gavin Nieto has gotten the majority of the starts this season but senior Tim Ernst has seen some action down the stretch especially in the last two games against Dartmouth and Harvard. Nieto on the season has a record of 3-16-1 with a 3.85 goals against average and a .881 save percentage. Its possible that Tim Ernst starts this final game if it doesn't mean anything to Brown as a nice reward to a graduating senior. If these teams meet the following week I feel they will turn back to Nieto for the playoff series.

All time Quinnipiac holds a 18-7-6 advantage between the two teams. The Bobcats are looking to sweep the Bears for the second consecutive season. There is also a very good chance these teams meet back in Hamden again next weekend for the ECAC first round of the playoffs should Quinnipiac not a get a first round bye.

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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Scouting the Enemy: Yale Bulldogs

The Quinnipiac Bobcats head into the final weekend of the regular season currently in fifth place in the ECAC standings with an outside chance at still getting a first round playoff bye by winning out and getting some help from Dartmouth and Harvard. On Friday the Bobcats welcome their rivals, the Yale Bulldogs who will make the 8 mile trek up Whitney Avenue to High Point Solutions Arena for the 15th annual Heroes Hat Championship. Quinnipiac has won the Heroes Hat twelve times with eight them coming against the Bulldogs. Yale has struggled in the month of February to a tune of a 1-4-1 record as opposed to January when they went 6-1-2. The Bulldogs are trying to right the ship to earn home ice for the first round of the ECAC playoffs. Quinnipiac took the first meeting 5-2 at Ingalls Rink back on February 4th. The Bobcats lead the all time series with Yale 16-6-5. This game can be seen on the SNY network.

Joe Snively (photo by Yale Bulldog Athletics)
The Bulldog offense has been quiet in its last six games to a tune of 2.33 goals per game. Over the season they are averaging 2.96 goals per games good for 26th in the country. Sophomore Joe Snively (31 points) and senior John Hayden (30 points) are Yale's two best offensive players by far this season. Both are averaging over 1.1 points per game and are in the top three on the team in shots. They are both threats on the power play especially Hayden who is 5th in the country with ten power play goals. Frankie DiChiara and Ted Hart both have double digit goals this season with 10 and 11 respectively while junior Ryan Hitchcock who has 19 points is out with a broken leg. Its a solid power play at 18.70% (23-of-123) which is good for 26th in the country. The Yale offense also has not put up big goal totals against any of the top five teams in the ECAC with most of their high scoring games coming against the lesser teams in the conference along with Northeastern and UConn for out of conference opponents.

Defensively not much has changed personnel wise since the last meeting with Yale except that the Bulldogs are giving up 3.16 goals per game in their last six games. That has dropped them to 33rd in the country at 2.89 goals per game. That is a big drop off from the 1.88 goals per game they gave up in the month of January. At this point in the season who would think the Yale defense would be taking even more steps forward not a few steps back. Adam Larkin (13 points) and Charlie Curti (10 points) have provided some of the offense from the blue line. What the Bulldogs are missing is the consistent defensive effort each and every game. Its been few and far between this season for them in that department. Yale's power play has also dipped a bit from the last time these teams played as they are killing opposing opportunities at 81.9% (104-of-127) ranking them 36th in the country.
John Hayden (photo by Steven Ryan Icon SMI)
In the month of February sophomore goaltender Sam Tucker has gotten the majority of the starts playing in four games for the Bulldogs going 1-2-1 with a 2.50 goals against average in that time frame. On the season in 10 games played the Wilton, Connecticut native is 3-5-1 with a 3.02 goals against average and a .893 save percentage with a shutout of Dartmouth on February 18th. Senior Patrick Spano has struggled in his last 3 games played giving up 12 goals. He started against the Bobcats back on February 4th and gave up 5 goals in the loss. On the season Spano is 8-6-4 with a 2.63 goals against average and a .904 save percentage with one shutout. I think we may see Keith Allain go with Tucker in this one as he is the hotter goaltender at the moment while Spano struggled in his last appearance against the Bobcats.

This is a must win for Quinnipiac if they want to have any opportunity to get a top four spot should Saint Lawrence slip up in the final weekend. There will be a little bit of scoreboard watching to a degree in Hamden towards Hanover, New Hampshire when Saint Lawrence takes on Dartmouth tomorrow night. The Bank will be rocking as this is the toughest ticket in town. The fans will do their part tomorrow night while the hope is the team will do the same.

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Quinnipiac Men's Ice Hockey ECAC playoff scenarios

Quinnipiac heads into the final weekend of the regular season currently in the 5th spot in the ECAC standings. After a 6-1-1 start in ECAC play, the Bobcats have gone 5-7 in the conference since the hot start which has hurt their chances at a top four spot and a first round playoff bye. The Bobcats head into the final weekend against Yale and Brown with an outside chance at a first round bye. They will need help in order to get the last first round bye. The Bobcats can finish as high as fourth or finish as low as sixth in the conference standings depending on how the final weekend plays out. Let's take a look at the Bobcats scenarios and then the rest of the league.
Herb Brooks Arena, Lake Placid, NY (home of the 2017 ECAC Championship)
How the Bobcats can get into fourth and a first round bye?

Quinnipiac wins at home against Yale on Friday and Brown on Saturday.
Saint Lawrence loses on Friday at Dartmouth and Saturday at Harvard.

How the Bobcats can finish in the fifth spot?

Any Saint Lawrence win or tie this weekend would eliminate Quinnipiac from a first round bye.


Quinnipiac wins against Yale on Friday and Brown on Saturday.


Any Quinnipiac win coupled with a Clarkson loss or tie against either Harvard or Dartmouth.


Two Quinnipiac losses or ties coupled with two Clarkson losses or ties

How can the Bobcats finish in the sixth spot?

Two Quinnipiac losses coupled with two Clarkson wins


Two Quinnipiac ties coupled with two Clarkson wins

In the second scenario both teams would finish with an 11-8-3 conference record and this would go to the third ECAC tiebreaker since they split the season series and both would have the same number of conference wins which are the first two tiebreakers. The third tiebreaker is a comparison of results of games against the top four teams. Quinnipiac finished the season 2-5-1 against Union, Harvard, Cornell and Saint Lawrence while Clarkson is 2-3-2 against the same teams with Harvard still on the schedule. 

If the Bobcats can get a first round bye that would avoid a likely quarterfinal trip to Appleton Arena and would likely bring Saint Lawrence (should they beat Brown in the 1st round) to High Point Solutions Arena for the quarterfinals.

As the number five seed Quinnipiac is looking at hosting Brown in the first round. They play Brown Saturday and then may need to play them a maximum of three more times the following weekend.

If Quinnipiac falls to the sixth seed then they are likely going to host RPI a team they swept this season and have played very well against in the last five years.

In its ECAC tournament history, Quinnipiac has only reached the ECAC final four one time without having a first round bye. In 2007 as the number five seed they defeated Union in the opening round in a sweep before sweeping fourth seeded Cornell on the road at Lynah Rink before upsetting top seeded Saint Lawrence in the semi-finals in Albany. Quinnipiac then fell to the second seed Clarkson after coughing up a two goal third period lead losing 4-2 to the Golden Knights.

Lets take a look at the rest of the ECAC scenarios:

Union currently leads the ECAC with 31 points. They can win the Cleary Cup by winning out. They could also finish in second place or as low as third place.

Harvard is in second place with 30 points and would win the ECAC by winning out and Union losing one game. The Crimson would win the third tiebreaker against Union should the teams end up tied which is common games against the top four teams. They can finish anywhere from first to third.

Cornell has an outside chance at the Cleary Cup needing to win two games this weekend, having both Union and Harvard losing out in the process. The Big Red can finish anywhere from first to third but its probable they finish in third place. Saturday's game against Union could be for the ECAC championship if things break right for the Big Red with the scenario I played out above.

Saint Lawrence cannot finish any higher than fourth and no lower than fifth. One point clinches a top four spot and a first round bye for the Saints.

Clarkson currently sixth can finish as high as fifth or as a low as seventh. Finishing fifth would set up a possible quarterfinal match-up with arch rival Saint Lawrence. Finishing sixth they would likely play RPI in the first round while as the seventh seed they could face either Yale, Dartmouth, Princeton or Colgate depending on how the weekend shakes out.

Yale could finish as high as sixth but as low as tenth depending on how the weekend shakes out.

Dartmouth can finish as high as seventh but drop as low as the tenth spot depending on the results of the weekend.

Princeton and Colgate are in the same boat as Dartmouth in that they can each reach the seventh spot or finish in tenth.

RPI cannot finish any higher than eleventh but can still drop to the twelve spot depending on how they fare and Brown fares this weekend. Most likely they remain in eleventh.

Brown currently in the twelve spot has to play Princeton and Quinnipiac on the road which are both tough matchups. They can finish as high as eleventh but its likely they will finish where they are now in the standings.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quinnipiac recruiting notes 2/21/17

With the President's Day holiday yesterday along with some commits having games yesterday the Quinnipiac recruiting notes were pushed back a day. The men's ice hockey team concluded its regular season road schedule with a split in the New York capital district. After a 4-1 loss on Friday to Union College the Bobcats cruised past the RPI Engineers on Saturday 7-3. They now head home to conclude the regular season against Yale and Brown with an outside shot at first round bye if things break the Bobcats way. With that said let's look back and see how some of the future Bobcats did this past week.

Matt Cassidy (photo by Joni Coons)
Springfield Jr. Blues forward Matt Cassidy was named the NAHL Midwest Division Star of the Week. The 1999 forward out of Medford, New Jersey had six points in three games this past week (3 goals and 3 assists) and he had a career-best NAHL game on Saturday when he had two goals and three assists in the Blues 10-2 win over the Kenai River Brown Bears. In 41 games played for Springfield, Cassidy has 27 points (11 goals and 16 assists). He is projected to arrive in Hamden for the 2018-2019 season.

Matt Forchuk continues to remain hot for the Canmore Eagles. The leading scorer in the AJHL is riding a nine game point streak (6 goals and 12 assists). Over the past week he has nine points (1 goal and 8 assists) in 4 games played. In 52 games played this season, Forchuk has 87 points (27 goals and 60 assists). He has 39 of those points via the power play (8 goals and 31 assists). The 1996 forward is expected to be an important player for the Bobcats next fall as they look to generate more offense than they have so far this season. 
Joe O'Connor in white (photo by Prairie Post Alberta)
Hamden native Joe O'Connor had a six assist week for the Brooks Bandits (AJHL). The 1996 defenseman has returned from an upper body injury to become close to a point per game player from the blue line in only 13 games. He exploded for four assists in a win for Brooks on President's Day. On the season he has 11 points (1 goal and 10 assists). The 6'2 defenseman has shown the ability in two years from the blue line a knack for racking up points along with bringing some toughness to his game. He is part of the 2017 incoming recruiting class.

1999 goaltender Keith Petruzzelli made 57 saves on 59 shots in two wins for the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) this past weekend over Youngstown and Chicago. Petruzzelli has shined in his rookie season with the Lumberjacks becoming the top North American goaltender in the Central Scouting Midterm Rankings. In 25 games played for the Lumberjacks, Petruzzelli is 15-8 with 2.53 goals against average and a .911 save percentage with two shutouts this season. The Wilbraham, Massachusetts native is expected to come in and compete immediately for playing time. He is expected to be likely the highest Quinnipiac player selected in the NHL draft this June. 

1997 forward Devin Moore had a six point week for the Brockville Braves (CCHL). In three games, Moore had four goals and two assists with three of his goals coming on the power play. This season in 55 games played, Moore has 50 points (23 goals and 27 assists). He is also a threat on the power play with 22 of his 50 points coming on the man advantage (9 goals and 13 assists). Moore is heading to Quinnipiac this fall and should be able to help boost the Bobcats offense. 

A couple of future Bobcats had their season end on a sour note. North Jersey Avalanche 1999 forward Corey Clifton and 1999 goaltender Justin Robbins lost in the championship game of the Tier I Elite Hockey League U18 Championship to Victory Honda 2-1. Robbins played in three of the four playoff games going 2-1 with a .99 goals against average and a .943 save percentage with one shutout. He finished the regular season going 19-1 in 21 games played with a 1.79 goals against average and a .935 save percentage with five shutouts. His USHL rights are held by the Chicago Steel and he has a good chance of playing with them next season. Clifton, the younger brother of current Bobcats Connor and Tim Clifton had a goal and an assist in five playoff games. He finished the Tier I regular season with 21 points (5 goals and 16 assists) in 31 games played. Clifton also plays high school hockey for Christian Brothers Academy in New Jersey.

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Quinnipiac cruises past RPI 7-3

The Quinnipiac Bobcats men's ice hockey team concluded its regular season road schedule by cruising past the RPI Engineers 7-3 on Saturday night in front of 4,716 fans at the Houston Field House in Troy, New York. The Bobcats put a damper on the Engineers’ 40th annual “Big Red Freakout”. After spotting the Engineers and early lead, four unanswered Quinnipiac goals proved to be too much for RPI to overcome.

Landon Smith (photo by Kim Klement/USA Today)
It was RPI's Will Reilly who opened the scoring a little more than four and half minutes into the game. Riley Bourbonnais and Mike Prapavessis each picked up an assist on Reilly's goal. Just under three minutes later the Bobcats started their barrage of scoring in the first period. Karlis Čukste took a Tanner MacMaster past in the zone and wristed a shot from the top right circle past RPI's Chase Perry for the goal. Connor Clifton was also credited with an assist. A minute and a half later it was Landon Smith sniping a shot past Perry from the edge of the bottom right circle. MacMaster and Derek Smith picked up the assists on the goal. Seven minutes later freshman Nick Jermain put a shot on net that Perry had trouble handling that eventually found the back of the net. It was his third goal of the season while Kevin Duane and Derek Smith were credited with the assists. Two minutes later Landon Smith potted his 8th goal of the season and second of the game on a mini breakaway. Kevin McKernan and Tommy Schutt picked up assists on Smith's goal which concluded the scoring for the first period. Quinnipiac out shot RPI 17-9 in the opening frame.

Midway through the second period Kevin McKernan took a cross checking penalty putting the Engineers on the power play. Less than a minute later RPI cut the lead to two on Jacob Hayhurst's power play goal from Will Reilly and Mike Prapavessis. Seven minutes later Connor Clifton ripped a shot from the point that redirected in off of Bo Pieper and past Perry for the goal giving the Bobcats a three goal lead once again.
Kevin McKernan (photo courtesy of Getty Images)
In the third Quinnipiac continued to pour it on as Chase Priskie skated in the lower right circle before firing a wrister past Perry for his 8th goal of the season. McKernan and Schutt picked up assists on the goal. Midway through the final period RPI's Alex Rodriguez scored his first goal of the season to get the Engineers within three goals. Things got testy late with less than six minutes left when a brawl broke out leading to four misconduct penalties along with a game misconduct for Karlis Čukste. Kevin McKernan sealed the game with an empty netter with less than two minutes to play. Priskie and Scott Davidson picked up the assists on McKernan's goal. The teams finished the game with a combined 85 penalty minutes.

Quinnipiac out shot RPI for the game 37-24 and had seven players with multi point games. Andrew Shortridge made 21 saves for his seventh win of the season. The Bobcats improve to 17-13-2 (11-8-1 ECAC) while RPI drops to 7-25-1 (5-15 ECAC). Quinnipiac now returns home next week to conclude the regular season against Yale and Brown with an outside chance at still securing a first round bye should Saint Lawrence lose both games and Quinnipiac win both games.

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

Quinnipiac falls at Union 4-1

The defending back to back Cleary Cup champion Quinnipiac men's ice hockey team was officially dethroned on Friday night in a 4-1 loss to Union College in front of 2,172 fans at the Achilles Center in Schenectady, New York. The Bobcats came into the game with a slim chance at the Cleary Cup but a poor two minute stretch in which they gave up three goals sunk any hopes of the Bobcats winning another regular season title. Union swept the season series from the Bobcats for the first time since the 2009-2010 season and secured a first round bye in the process.

Mike Vecchione (photo by Peter R. Barber/Daily Gazette)
Junior Chris Truehl got the start in net for the Bobcats having last played against Yale two weeks ago. For three quarters of the first period the teams played a back and forth even game. The Dutchmen broke through at the 14:18 mark of the period on a J.C. Brassard goal from Cole Maier and Ryan Walker. From there the flood gates started to open up. Thirty-two seconds later Brett Supinksi scored his sixth goal of the season with assists from Mike Vecchione and Nick DeSimone. Craig Martin got called for a tripping call a second after the goal was scored giving Union an immediate power play. Eighteen seconds later Connor Clifton took an interference call giving the Dutchmen a five on three advantage. Less than a minute later Union capitalized on the two man advantage when Spencer Foo potted his 21st goal of the season from Sebastian Vidmar and Jeff Taylor giving the Dutchmen a comfortable lead going into the first intermission. 

Freshman Andrew Shortridge replaced Truehl to begin the second period. The period was penalty infested with the teams combining for ten minor penalties. A boarding call on Tim Clifton at the 15:37 mark gave Union another power play which they immediately capitalized on a little more than thirty seconds later on Mike Vecchione's 24th goal of the season on assists from Jeff Taylor and Spencer Foo. Quinnipiac scored their lone goal of the game when K.J. Tiefenwerth took a loose from the corner and wristed the puck on goal where it deflected off a Union defender and into the net for an unassisted goal. 
K.J. Tiefenwerth (photo by John Crouch)
Quinnipiac through two periods only had 14 shots on goal, a very low total for them. They only managed five shots on goal the entire third period finishing with a season low 19 shots for the game. The teams combined for five more penalties in the third period. Andrew Shortridge finished the game with 16 saves while Alex Sakellaropoulos returned after missing four games with a knee injury made 18 saves in the win.

The Bobcats fall to 16-13-2 (10-8-1 ECAC) while Union improves to 21-8-2 (14-4-1 ECAC) as they inch closer to the Cleary Cup title. Quinnipiac concludes its regular season road schedule tomorrow night at the Houston Field House in Troy, New York when they take on RPI at 7pm.

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

Scouting the enemy: RPI Engineers

The last road game of the regular season takes the Quinnipiac Bobcats to Troy, New York to face off against the RPI Engineers. It's been far from a glamorous season for the Engineers more like a nightmare. However you have to give RPI credit. They are 3-5 in their last eight games with wins over Harvard and Clarkson to boot and even in the five losses each game was a one goal loss except Dartmouth which scored an empty net goal to win by two. Prior to the win over Harvard it looked as if the team was mailing it in with five blowout losses in a row but since the indefinite suspension to sophomore goaltender Cam Hackett, RPI has played much better. Quinnipiac won the first meeting in Hamden 4-1 back in December. All-time Quinnipiac is 13-5-9 against RPI.

Evan Tironese (photo by Grand Forks Herald)
The Engineers have struggled all season to generate offense as they are averaging 2.16 goals per game which is good for 56th in the country. In the last eight games they are averaging 2.50 goals per game. The leading scorer for the Engineers is sophomore Evan Tironese with 25 points (6 goals and 19 assists). Senior co-captain Riley Bourbonnais leads the team in goals with 13 and has a 24 points in total. Some of the younger forwards have started to contribute like freshman Jacob Hayhurst with 17 points (6 goals and 11 assists), sophomore Brady Wiffen with 11 points (4 goals and 7 assists) and freshman Patrick Polino with 9 points (4 goals and 5 assists). These players give some promise to the future of RPI hockey. Juniors Viktor Liljegren and Lou Nanne have 14 and 10 points respectively. RPI is one of the better teams on the power play as they ranked 12th in the country converting on 20.86% of their opportunities (29-of-139) which is surprising considering the lack of offense they have produced this season. Keeping the Engineers off the power play would give the Bobcats a big leg up in winning this game on the road as they don't want to give RPI extra man opportunities where they can change a game.

While RPI has struggled defensively this season to a tune of 3.65 goals against per game which ranks them 56th in the country, over their last eight games they are giving up only 2.25 goals per game which shows how much they have improved and along with giving a good effort on the blue line. Every single RPI defenseman is a minus player but a lot of that has to do with how poorly they played over the first half of the season. Juniors Jared Wilson (13 points) and Mike Prapavessis (12 points) are the teams 5th and 6th leading scorers respectively. Both are threats to score on the power play as well. Freshman defenseman Will Reilly has also shown some promise from the blue line contributing with 10 points (1 goal and 9 assists). The RPI defense bring very good size and they will need to play physical with the Bobcats smaller forwards yet they need to avoid the penalty box like they did in their previous match-up when they took 14 penalties for 28 minutes. The Bobcats scored three power play goals in the last meeting and RPI doesn't have the best penalty kill either at 79.8% (130-of-163) good for 46th in the country.
Chase Perry (photo by Nicholas R. Markham)
A lot of RPI's better play has been due to the emergence of sophomore Chase Perry who took over full time when Cam Hackett was suspended indefinitely. The Colorado College transfer and draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings has a goals against average of 2.00 over his last eight games with a shutout of Beanpot champion Harvard to boot. On the season he is 4-16-1 with a 3.20 goals against average and a .912 save percentage in 22 games played. He brings NHL size in goal and very good athleticism as well. He will present a challenge for the Bobcats on Saturday night as he has shown he has the ability to win his team a game against better opponents with the Harvard game as the greatest example.

Expect this game to be very competitive between these two teams as the previous meeting was a very physical affair. RPI is playing quality hockey at this point in the season and giving a much better effort than we saw in the first half of the season. Quinnipiac has been inconsistent since returning from Belfast and really hasn't found its groove yet at this point in the season. While this is a very winnable game for Quinnipiac, it would not be shocking at all if RPI came away with a win as they have shown a lot of fight when they could have mailed it in after the new year.

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Scouting the Enemy: Union Dutchmen

Quinnipiac heads to the New York capital district this weekend for the last road trip of the regular season to take on Union and RPI. First up is the Dutchmen of Union College. The current leaders of the ECAC with 27 points, Union controls its own destiny for the Cleary Cup but the race is tight with four teams separated by just two points so its the regular season title is still far from being determined. Rick Bennett's team comes into this game having lost three of their last five games to Saint Lawrence, Cornell and Harvard respectively who are the three teams directly below them in the standings.  At 11th in the current pairwise rankings, the Dutchmen are not a lock for the NCAA tournament just yet. They have big wins over Harvard and twice against Vermont but do not have any other resume building wins of note. They don't have any bad losses either. Their worst loss was probably to Michigan in the second game of the season but the Wolverines were ranked 11th at that time. Union can ill afford to slip up this weekend against either Quinnipiac or Princeton as that would hurt them in the pairwise standings. For Quinnipiac they have a slim chance at the Clearly Cup but could easily be eliminated from contention for that this weekend. At this point at 22nd in the pairwise rankings the only door to the NCAA tournament is through Lake Placid and winning the ECAC tournament and they would likely have to do that without a first round bye as they are currently in fifth place in the ECAC standings with 21 points. Quinnipiac dropped their first meeting of the season to Union 5-2 in Hamden and all-time against the Dutchmen are 15-12-4.
Mike Vecchione (photo by Peter R. Darby/Daily Gazette)
Union has one of the most impressive top lines in the country in senior Mike Vecchione with 51 points (23 goals and 28 assists), junior Spencer Foo with 50 points (20 goals and 30 assists) and sophomore Sebastian Vidmar with 33 points (13 goals and 20 assists). Vecchione and Foo are both in the top four nationally in scoring and Vecchione is likely to be a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Coming into the season the big question was if Union could find any secondary scoring. They answered that question as multiple underclassmen have stepped up and provided much needed offense for the Dutchmen. That includes sophomore Cole Maier with 20 points (12 goals and 8 assists), sophomore Ryan Walker with 14 points (4 goals and 10 assists) and freshman Luc Brown with 12 points (5 goals and 7 assists). Sophomore Brett Supinksi has increased his freshman year 21 point campaign with 27 points (5 goals and 22 assists) this season while junior Ryan Scarfo's production is a big down with 13 points (5 goals and 8 assists) after having back to back double digit goal seasons. The Dutchmen are fifth in the country in offense at 3.87 goals per game and they have a power play ranked 25th at 18.79% (31-of-165). This shows how good of a five on five team they are as they don't have an elite power play. However its the top Union line of Vecchione, Foo and Vidmar that is the main threat on the power play with 17 of their 31 goals on the power play. Quinnipiac will need to play fast, aggressive and disciplined defense against this impressive offense if it wants to be able to minimize Union's scoring chances in order to have a better chance at winning this game.
Spencer Foo (photo by John Carl D'Annibale/Times Union)
While Union is only a middle of pack team in defensive scoring at 2.87 goals per game they have some solid experienced players back there doing a good job of keeping the puck out of the net along with limiting opposing team's scoring chances. The Dutchmen are very solid at blocking shots averaging 13.7 blocks per game led by veteran blue liner Nick DeSimone with 46 and freshman Vas Kolias with 45. They are also getting some very solid production offensively out of some of the defensemen. Senior Jeff Taylor is fifth on the team in scoring with 25 points (8 goals and 17 assists). Junior Nick DeSimone has 15 points (7 goal and 8 assists) while freshman Vas Kolias has 9 points (1 goal and 8 assists). Union doesn't have one the best penalty kills as well as they are only 38th in the country at 81.4% (105-of-129) but they hide this deficiency by being one of the least penalized teams in the county taking on 10.80 penalty minutes per game. Quinnipiac has struggled to score goals at times this year with it's top two scorers both being defensmen (Chase Priskie and Brogan Rafferty).

In goal Union senior Alex Sakellaropoulos has missed the last four games due to a left knee injury suffered against Saint Lawrence. Just yesterday it was reported he started practicing and could be available this weekend. He has played well for the Dutchmen this season providing stability in between the pipes. In 22 games played he is 17-4-1 with a 2.44 goals against average and a .921 save percentage and had a 52 save performance against the Bobcats back in December. With Sakellaropoulos status not yet determined, Union would likely turn to sophomore Jake Kupsky, a 2015 7th round pick by the San Jose Sharks. He has started the last four games and gone 2-2 in that stretch. In 8 games played this year he is 3-4-1 with a 3.70 goals against average and an .887 save percentage. The hope is the Bobcats will be able to get some goals through Kupsky who has not looked great at times this season.

If Quinnipiac wants to get into the top four they need to have a four point weekend on the road and it starts on Friday. Union is the better team at this point in the season but with Sakellaropoulos likely out again it may give the Bobcats the break they need considering how good he was back in December.

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

Monday, February 13, 2017

Quinnipiac recruiting notes 2/13/17

It was another tough weekend for the Quinnipiac Bobcats men's ice hockey team as they fell at home to Clarkson 4-2. The team is now four points behind Cornell for a top four spot in the ECAC standings. On top of the loss is the news that Andrew Taverner is no longer with the hockey program. The junior from Edmonton, Alberta played in 21 games for the Bobcats recording three goals and five assists. That will open another roster spot for next years team and could put coach Riga or coach Dumais back on the recruiting trail or they could bring in either Daniel Winslow or Ryan Finnegan both's 1997's into next years recruiting class. On Monday the USCHO poll came out and the Bobcats were not in the polls for the first time since October 27, 2014, a disappointing fall for a team that was the preseason number two team in the country. With that said let's move on to what some of the future Bobcats did over the past week.
Matt Creamer (photo by Nanaimo Clippers)
Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL) 1997 forward Matt Creamer has scored a goal in each of his last four games and currently has a five game point streak still in tact. In his last five games played he has four goals and five assists and is the Clippers second leading scorer with 32 points (17 goals and 15 assists). The Warwick, Rhode Island native is expected to be part of the 2017-18 Quinnipac incoming recruiting class.

1996 forward Matt Forchuk of the Canmore Eagles (AJHL) continues to produce game in and game out. In three games played this past week he had four goals and two assists for Canmore. With 78 points (26 goals and 52 assists) he is the leading scorer in the AJHL. He will give Quinnipiac much needed offense next season and expect him to be a big contributor on the power play for the Bobcats who need to improve in that category.

Odeen Tufto has been traded for the second time this season in the USHL. The 1997 forward was dealt to the western conference leader Sioux City Musketeers with two other players from the Tri-City Storm. In four games played for the Musketeers he has one assist.  On the season he has 29 points (8 goals and 21 assists) in 42 games with Fargo, Tri-City and Sioux City. Tufto is going to be part of the Bobcats incoming recruiting class and should help improve the offense that is averaging only 2.93 goals per game a year after scoring 3.79 goals per game.
Matt Forchuk (photo by Pam Doyle)
1998 forward Khristian Acosta was traded from the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights (NAHL) to the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL. He finished with 35 points (12 goals and 23 assists) in 34 games for the Knights. Acosta was a 9th round pick by Sioux Falls in the 2016 Phase II USHL Entry Draft. Its been a big ascent for Acosta this season going from the Tier III New Jersey Hitmen to the Tier II Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights and now to the Tier I Sioux Falls Stampede in the highest junior league in the United States. Acosta will need another season of development and if that is going to be with Sioux Falls that is going to be a big benefit to him as it will help prepare him by playing against the best college bound players in the country.

1999 forward Matt Fawcett has surpassed his production from a season ago when he had 38 points in 28 games played for the Winchendon School. This season in just 22 games played he has 44 points (20 goals and 24 assists). In his last four games alone he has eight points on four goals and four assists. For the season he is averaging exactly two points per game. He is making a strong case for being part of the Sioux City Musketeers team in the 2017-2018 season.
Matt Fawcett (photo by the Winchendon School)
P.A.L Junior Islanders 16U defensman Dom Fensore had a goal and an assist this past weekend. The 2001 defenseman a New York native had both of his points come via the power play. In 21 games played he has 26 points (10 goals and 16 assists). For Fensore nine of his 26 points points come by way of the power play (4 goals and 5 assists). He is a candidate for the U.S. NTDP for next season.

2001 defenseman Nicholas Kent had a goal and three assists in four games for the Delta Hockey Academy Elite 15's. In 26 games played, Kent has 22 points (2 goals and 20 assists). Both of his goals have come by way of the power play. The Ladera Ranch, CA native has matched his point total from a season ago but with more assists and less goals. He is eligible to be selected in the USHL Phase I draft this spring. He was previously selected by the Saskatoon Blades in the 7th round, #147 in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.

Salisbury School 2000 defenseman Peter Diliberatore had five points (1 goal and 4 assists) in his last three games for the elite Connecticut prep school. In 26 games played the Nova Scotia native has 15 points (4 goals and 11 assists). His USHL rights are held by Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) and the Halifax Mooseheads own his rights in the QMJHL.

Newly committed 2001 forward Connor Tait has continued to show he is an elite goal scorer. After finishing his Team Maryland 16U season with 43 goals and 14 assists in 30 games played between the AYHL and ECEL, he already has scored 33 goals with 18 assists in 28 games played for the Gonzaga College High School varsity hockey team. With 76 goals in 58 games between two teams he is averaging 1.31 goals per game on the season.

Quinnipiac is showing interest in Brooks Bandits (AJHL) 1998 defenseman Dennis Cesana a native of Providence, RI and a Kimball Union alum according to Mark Divver. In 51 games played for the Bandits he has 47 points (11 goals and 36 assists) from the blue line. The 5'10 190 pound left shot defenseman is expected to spend another season with Brooks before going to college. He also has interest from Bentley, Brown, Vermont, RIT and Alabama-Huntsville.

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

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Quinnipiac suffers 4-2 loss to Clarkson in lone weekend game

The No. 19 Quinnipiac Bobcats fell 4-2 to the Clarkson Golden Knights on Friday night at the High Point Solutions Arena damaging the teams chances at an ECAC first round playoff bye in the process. The Bobcats had come into this lone game on the weekend fresh off a sweep of Brown and Yale on the road last weekend and were looking to pick up key ECAC points. Clarkson had other ideas as they hope to end the weekend trailing Quinnipiac by only one point in the standings.

The Bobcats turned back to freshman Andrew Shortridge in net who saw action in one game last weekend in the shutout against Brown. Quinnipiac got the scoring started just 3:16 into the game when Tim Clifton won a draw in the Clarkson zone and got the puck back to Chase Priskie at the point where he blasted home his 7th goal of the season. The Bobcats continue to dominate the possession game in the first period as well as the shot total. They ended the period out shooting the Golden Knights 17-9 in the opening frame.
Sam Vigneault (photo by Clarkson Athletics)
In the second period the Golden Knights tied the game early in the period at the 1:59 mark when Aaron Thow fired a slap shot from the top of the right circle right as the power play was expiring.  Troy Josephs and Sam Vigneault picked up assists on Thow's second goal of the season. Just 12 seconds later Clarkson's A.J. Fossen was assessed a hitting from behind penalty on Chase Priskie that earned him an ejection and gave Quinnipiac a five minute power play. The Bobcats could not capitalize on the ensuing power play which swung momentum towards the Golden Knights who continued to outplay Quinnipiac throughout the second period. Late in the period Greg Moro scored on a one timer from the point giving Clarkson a 2-1 lead going in the second intermission. The Golden Knights out shot the Bobcats 10-6 in the middle frame.
Chase Priskie (photo by Matt Dewkett)
Clarkson extended the lead to two goals just three and half minutes into the third period on a James de Haas goal off a rebound from a Sam Vigneault shot that ripped off the post. de Haas was wide open with no one around him with a net that was essentially wide open. Haralds Egle also picked up an assist on de Haas fifth goal of the season. The teams traded back and forth play for much of the third period until Quinnipiac cut the lead to one on a goal by Kevin McKernan after a lot of chaos in the crease in front of Clarkson goaltender Jake Kielly. It was the third of the season for McKernan who has shown more offensive out put this season from the blue line. Bo Pieper and Landon Smith got the assists on the McKernan goal. With just over three minutes to play head coach Rand Pecknold pulled Andrew Shortridge for the extra attacker and while the Bobcats got some good offensive zone pressure it was Clarkson's Sam Vigneault that put the game on ice for the Golden Knights with an empty net goal.

Andrew Shortridge made 27 saves in the loss while Quinnipiac out shot Clarkson 35-31. Quinnipiac falls to 16-12-2 (10-7-1 ECAC) while Clarkson improves to 13-12-4 (8-7-2 ECAC). The Bobcats are currently 23rd in the Pairwise Rankings. After the rest of the weekend off the team heads up to the capital district to face off against Union and RPI.

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

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Scouting the enemy: Clarkson Golden Knights

No. 19 Quinnipiac plays a lone game this weekend with a Friday match-up against the Clarkson Golden Knights, a team a one spot below the Bobcats in the standings but still five points back of Quinnipiac. Rand Pecknold's team is holding firm at the number five spot in the ECAC but is still looking to secure a top four seed for the conference tournament. They currently trail Cornell by one point in the standings but the Big Red have one game in hand on the Bobcats along with four of their last six games at Lynah Rink with a North Country trip mixed in between.

The Golden Knights come to Hamden having played much better on the road (6-4-2) than they have at Cheel Arena (6-8). Clarkson has impressive road wins against UMass Lowell, Notre Dame, Union and Vermont along with a tie at Providence. Casey Jones team was expected to have a better record at this point than 12-12-4 and part of that has been the inability to play over .500 at home. Quinnipiac all time against Clarkson is 14-7-3 with a 7-2-2 at home against them. Jones is 1-4 all time against the Bobcats as the head coach at Clarkson.
Sam Vigneault (photo by Clarkson Athletics)
Offensively the Golden Knights have gotten good production from a handful of forwards on their roster. Junior Sam Vigneault 25 points (7 goals and 18 assists) and senior Jordan Boucher 23 points (10 goals and 13 assists) lead the way for Clarkson in terms of being the top two players in points. Following those two players are three freshman that are off to terrific starts in their career in Nico Sturm 19 points (8 goals and 11 assists), Devin Brosseau 18 points (6 goals and 12 assists) and Sheldon Rempal 18 points (7 goals and 11 assists). These three were expected to be the future of the Clarkson offense except they are contributing immediately for Casey Jones team. Also in that offensive mix is senior Troy Josephs 17 points (10 goals and 7 assists). All six players are power play threats as well. Another freshman not getting as much pub as the other three is Latvian native Haralds Egle who has 11 points (6 goals and 5 assists) including three power play goals. The Golden Knights average 3.07 goals per game which ties them for 22nd in the country in scoring and their power play is 26th at 18.98% (26-of-137) one spot behind Quinnipiac. The Bobcats will need to be on their game defensively as this is a Clarkson team that has many weapons that can hurt you. The one thing about this Clarkson offense is they do seem to struggle against good defensive teams and really have only put up large goal totals against Brown and RPI twice which has skewed their goals for average a bit.

Clarkson has struggled defensively this year at times and it has showed to a tune of giving up a three goals per game this year which ties them for 35th in the country in that category. They have also given up five or more goals in seven games this season including to Quinnipiac when they met back in Potsdam in November. Its a big problem why this team is only .500 at this point in the season instead of in the top four and playing for a bye.  They are led by senior James de Haas (2012 6th round, Detroit) who has 14 points and junior Kelly Summers (2014 7th round, Ottawa) who has 11 points. The Golden Knights have also mixed in three freshman at times on defense with different rotations so there has been inexperience at times back there. But over the course of the second half of the season the defense has shown some improvement giving up only 2.50 goals per games over its last eight games. They are tied for 24th in the country for the penalty kill at 84% (137-of-163) but they are most penalized ECAC team and that should be able to favor Quinnipiac's power play which has scored seven power play goals in its last four games.
Jordan Boucher (photo by Tansey Photography)
In goal Clarkson turns to freshman Jake Kielly who has been solid this season with a record of 11-11-4 with a 2.67 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. He has two shutouts this season against Merrimack and Notre Dame. Kielly has played well in the second the half of the season to a tune of a 2.37 goals against average. In road games this year he is averaging 2.33 goals per game so he has played better on the road than at home. He brings size in goal at 6'2 and has a championship pedigree from a Clark Cup win with Tri-City a year ago in the USHL.

This is an important game for the Bobcats as they continue to chase points as they need to keep pace with Cornell and hope the Big Red can slip up down the stretch paving a path for Quinnipiac to get a first round bye. The Bobcats need to treat every game remaining in the regular season as one game season and focus solely on that game at hand and not look past any of their opponents remaining. ECAC points are what matters at this point in order to position the team for a potential deep playoff run to Lake Placid.

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