Thursday, February 8, 2018

Scouting the Enemy: Yale Bulldogs

It's that time again. Quinnipiac vs. Yale. While both teams are not at the top of the ECAC standings like in years past, this is a still a good rivalry with the two teams jockeying for position in the standings with the Bobcats and Bulldogs separated by one point for 8th and 9th place. After a 3-7 start to the season, Yale has gone 8-4-1 since December 2nd to come in with a record of 11-11-1. The Bulldogs however with be without head coach Keith Allain who has taken his talents to Pyeongchang, South Korea as an assistant coach for Team USA men's ice hockey. These two teams last met in Hamden on November 18th with Quinnipiac coming away with a 3-0 win. 

Yale Key Players: Joe Snively (F), Dante Palecco (F), Ryan Hitchcock (F), Luke Stevens (F), Evan Smith (F), Ted Hart (F), Billy Sweezey (D), Phil Kemp (D), Charlie Curti (D), Sam Tucker (D)

The Yale offense has struggled at times this season to a tune of only 2.74 goals per game which is good for 37th in the country. Its a similar offense to Quinnipiac where they are lacking some high end talent and consistency on the offensive end. Joe Snively is clearly the Bulldogs best forward with 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists). He is the primary guy that Quinnipiac cannot let beat them. Other key players for Yale include Ryan Hitchcock (15 points), Evan Smith (12 points), Dante Palecco (11 points) and Ted Hart (11 points). No team in the country has a worse power play than Yale. They have scored on 9 of 94 chances (9.57%) which is surprising since they do have some nice offensive pieces up front.

Yale's defense is much improved from early in the season as they give up 2.70 goals per game which is tied for 22nd in the country with Union. They have some good talent on the blue line with sophomore Bill Sweezey (Plus 3), junior Charlie Curti (Plus 7), junior Anthony Walsh (Plus 8) and freshman Phil Kemp (Plus 9). They have stabilized the defense from their early season struggles and have played much better since the beginning of December with a goals against sub 2.50. The strength of the defense is obviously on special teams with the penalty kill at a clip just a shade over 82% (83-of-101) which is 22nd in the country. This is clearly a much better defensive team that what Quinnipiac faced early in the season but without Keith Allain will they still have the same structure and discipline?

Junior goaltender Sam Tucker has a sub .900 save percentage at .899 in 16 games played with a 2.97 goals against average and he took the loss in the teams last meeting but was really good. Sophomore Corbin Kaczperski has been much better in 7 games played with a .933 save percentage and a 1.86 goals against average. He is 5-1 since December 30th while Tucker is 1-3-1. With Kaczperski playing much better than Tucker it wouldn't shock me to see him get the start against Quinnipiac as he probably gives Yale its best chance to win.

A win over Yale will give the Quinnipiac some breathing room for the 8th spot in the ECAC standings and could help propel them as high as the 5th spot. A loss puts them in 9th in the ECAC league standings.

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