The #16 Quinnipiac Bobcats coming off a 5-3 loss against RPI after having a two goal lead have lost their first three conference games of the season. The Bobcats now head to Union as the Dutchmen are coming off six wins in their last seven games after starting the season with five straight losses. Rick Bennett's team has righted the ship with their play recently. Quinnipiac is looking to right the ship after a disastrous start to ECAC play and can ill afford to fall behind the eight ball anymore in conference play. Currently Union is in first place in the ECAC standings with a 4-1 record.
Union Key Players: Brett Supinski (F), Ryan Scarfo (F), Anthony Rinaldi (F), Cole Maier (F), Sebastian Vidmar (F), Jack Adams (F), Parker Foo (F), Vas Kolias (D), J.C. Brassard (D), Darion Hanson (G)
Mike Vecchione and Spencer Foo are gone so there is expected to be a drop-off offensively for the Dutchmen. Currently they are averaging 3.17 goals per game and that is without their two best freshman Jack Adams and Parker Foo doing much as of now. Sebastian Vidmar (8 points) who was the third leading scorer last year is tied for 4th in the team in scoring behind Brett Supinski (14 points), Ryan Scarfo (12 points) and Anthony Rinaldi (11 points). Union still has shown it can put the puck in the net though a lot of the offense came against the likes of RIT, Niagara, RPI and St. Lawrence in their recent winning streak. Still with the way Quinnipiac has struggled paying attention to details on defense this is still a good enough Union offense that can cause Quinnipiac problems.The Dutchmen power play is not as good as a season ago at just 17.86% but the Quinnipiac penalty kill has struggled to a 78.1% clip. However they went 6 for 6 last night against RPI.
The Union defense which a strength a season ago took a bit of a hit with the graduation of Jeff Taylor and the early departure of Nick DeSimone to a pro contract. Union still has Vas Kolias and J.C. Brassard along with junior Greg Campbell but it has a lot of youth with freshman and sophomore's manning the blue line which is somewhere that Quinnipiac possibly could exploit. Union has struggled on the penalty kill at just 76% this season while Quinnipiac has struggled on the power play at just 16% but scored two power plays goals Friday night against RPI in the loss.
Union started its turnaround due in part to a goaltending change after five games. Junior Jake Kupsky started the first five games of the season and didn't record a victory while struggling with a 3.18 goals against average and an .891 save percentage but got the start and picked up the win Friday against Princeton. Freshman Darion Hanson has stabilized the position for Union, going 5-1 with a 1.84 goals against average and a .920 save percentage in the last six games to turn around the season for the Dutchmen. The Minnesota native has good size in between the pipes at 6'3 but the Dutchmen as a team played much better in front of Hanson than they did with Kupsky.
Quinnipiac is absolutely desperate for a conference win after blowing a two goal lead on Friday night against RPI when they made countless mistakes. Another weekend with no points could lead this team going in the wrong direction this season.
Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.