With the 4th consecutive conference loss to open a season for the first time in the Rand Pecknold era, Quinnipiac finds itself in unfamiliar territory being at the bottom of the ECAC standings. With a team that was picked second in the league by many this start by the Bobcats is unexpected to say the least. They return back to Hamden looking for their first conference win when they take on the Brown Bears Friday night at Frank Perrotti Arena. Brown is 2-4 on the season having a nice win over Yale to start the year and playing well against Clarkson last weekend in a loss before winning against St. Lawrence on Saturday. The Bears have the ability to give Quinnipiac all they can handle Friday night especially with the way the Bobcats have been playing as of late and it will take a total team effort for Quinnipiac to start the turnaround of their season.
Brown Key Players: Sam Lafferty (F), Max Willman (F), Charlie Corcoran (F), Tyler Bird (F), Brent Beaudoin (F), Alec Mehr (F), Tony Stillwell (D), Joe Maguire (D), Zach Giuttari (D), Gavin Nieto (G)
Bruno is only averaging 2.50 goals per game but they have players that can hurt you in a handful of seniors including Sam Lafferty, Max Willman, Charlie Corcoran and Tyler Bird. Sophomore Brent Beaudoin (5 points) is leading the team in scoring and they are getting early contribution from freshman Alec Mehr (4 points). Brown is only converting on 16.13% (5-of-31) of their power plays while the Quinnipiac penalty kill is 50th in the country at 75.7% (28-of-27). Quinnipiac has really struggled recently on defense giving up three goals per game which is very unlike a Quinnipiac team in that regard. I think some of Quinnipiac's struggles on the defensive end are due in part by their scoring woes. The defense is trying to make up for some of the lack of scoring up front and it is effecting them defensively which in turn has hurt the goal-tending as well.
Brown's defense is giving up 3.17 goals per game but have played much better this season that they did a year ago. Coupled with the fact that Quinnipiac's offense is struggling mightily to a tune of 2.33 goals per game that has to make Brown feel a bit better about themselves on the defensive end. Some of Brown's younger defenseman have played well in Tony Stillwell, Joe Maguire and Zach Giuttari which have made things much easier than they did a season ago. The penalty kill for Brown has been solid as well at 83.3% (30-of-36). With the Bobcats power play struggling at only 17.24% (5-of-29) this should favor Brown in that category.
Sophomore Gavin Nieto has gotten the majority of the starts in goal with 4 but freshman Luke Kania started against St. Lawrence and only gave up one goal. His only other start was against Dartmouth when he gave up four goals in a loss to the Big Green. Nieto has the experience from playing the majority for Brown and has the better save percentage this season a .910%. It remains to be seen who will get the start in net as I could see Brown coach Brendan Whittet starting either of these goaltenders Friday night.
Quinnipiac cannot afford to look past Brown to the Yale game for a second. Bruno has looked like a much improved team that has some talent and is playing hard. An early lead for Quinnipiac is a must in order to start to build confidence that they need to carry with them for the rest of the their schedule.
Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.