Thursday, March 2, 2017

Playoff Preview: Quinnipiac Bobcats vs. Brown Bears

High Point Solutions Arena, site of ECAC First Round series vs. Brown
The Quinnipiac Bobcats open up the ECAC playoffs with a familiar foe in the Brown Bears a team that they beat the prior weekend to close out the regular season. Quinnipiac also won the first match up in Providence in early February 1-0. They are also the team that Quinnipiac has played more than any other team except Cornell in the ECAC playoffs since coming into the league back in 2006. The teams last met in the playoffs in the 2013 ECAC semifinals which the Bears won. That 2012-13 season has been Brown's best season in the last dozen years. Since then Brendan Whittet's team has gone into a free fall. Since winning 16 games back in in the '12-13 season, Brown has won 11, 8, 5 and 4 games in the last four seasons. This years team has the worst winning percentage for a Brown team since the 1988-89 season when current Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet was in his first season with Brown and led them to a 1-25 record. Brown has never won the ECAC Championship having lost four times back in 2013, 1993, 1976 and 1965. The Bears last reached the NCAA tournament in 1993.

Tale of the Tape:

#5 Quinnipiac Bobcats 19-13-2 (13-8-1 ECAC)
3.03 Goals scored per game (Tied 25th nationally with Cornell)
2.62 Goals allowed per game (22nd nationally)
18.01% Power Play (31st nationally)
85.2% Penalty Kill (Tied 14th nationally with UMass Lowell)
Cleary Cup Championships: 2016, 2015, 2013
Whitelaw Cup Championships: 2016
NCAA Tournament Appearances (5) 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2002
NCAA Frozen Four Appearances (2) 2016, 2013

#12 Brown Bears 4-23-2 (3-18-1 ECAC)
2.21 Goals scored per game (53rd nationally)
4.17 Goals allowed per game (59th nationally)
8.33% Power Play (59th nationally)
72.7% Penalty Kill (60th natioanlly)
Cleary Cup Championships: None
Whitelaw Cup Championships: None
NCAA Tournament Appearances (4) 1993, 1976, 1965, 1951
NCAA Frozen Four Appearances (3) 1976, 1965, 1951

Key Players:

Brown: F Sam Lafferty (33 points), F Charlie Corcoran (27 points), F Max Willman (25 points), F Brent Beaudoin (12 points), F Tyler Bird (12 points)

Quinnipiac: D Chase Priskie (25 points), F Landon Smith (25 points), D Brogan Rafferty (23 points), F Tim Clifton (22 points), F Craig Martin (22 points), F Bo Pieper (20 points), D Kārlis Čukste (15 points), D Connor Clifton (11 points), G Andrew Shortridge 9-5, 2.16 GAA

Playoff History:

2013 ECAC Semifinals - Brown defeats Quinnipiac 4-0
2012 ECAC First Round - Quinnipiac wins series 2-1 (1-4, 3-0, 4-2)
2011 ECAC First Round - Quinnipiac wins series 2-0 (4-0, 4-0)
2008 ECAC First Round - Quinnipiac wins series 2-0 (7-6 OT, 7-1)

The Skinny:

Quinnipiac comes into this game having won five out of their last seven ECAC games albeit they came against teams much worse than them in the standings. Brown is 1-12-1 in their last fourteen ECAC contests since their last non conference game. Their lone win against a winning team this season came against Army of the Atlantic Hockey Conference back in early December. Quinnipiac has the better team on offense, defense, special teams and with goaltending along with having a massive coaching edge in this match-up. Brown has some nice offensive players notably Lafferty, Corcoran and Willman but they lack offensive depth and the teams defense just hasn't been good this year which has put too much pressure on freshman goaltender Gavin Nieto. Bruno's special teams are really poor which won't help with the Bobcats having one a top 15 penalty kill and a power play that at times has the ability put the puck in the net multiple times a game. I think Brown is going to have a tough time scoring in this series if they can't find offense outside of the likes of Lafferty, Corcoran and Willman who have contributed to 49% of Browns scoring this year. The task of Quinnipiac's defense should be able to focus on Brown's better offensive players in order to shut them down and keep them off the score-sheet forcing lessor players to produce for them which I don't think they will be able to do. Quinnipiac's Andrew Shortridge is also starting to find a groove in goal and should give the Bobcats quality play in the crease this weekend.

The Prediction:

Quinnipiac has the home ice, the better overall team and coaching staff along with a history of beating Brown in the postseason.

Qunnipiac in a sweep

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

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