Thursday, March 1, 2018

Playoff Preview: Quinnipiac Bobcats at Yale Bulldogs

Quinnipiac at Yale in early February (photo copyright BobcatsHockeyBlog)

The Quinnipiac Bobcats and the Yale Bulldogs. The Battle of Whitney Part III. It's always fun when these two teams meet and its even better when it comes in the ECAC playoffs. The one negative is that this series will be played in Ingalls Rink instead of Quinnipiac's home fans at Perrotti Arena. Still this game should have a lot of Quinnipiac fan support with the short drive to New Haven. These two teams split the season series with Quinnipiac winning 3-0 in Hamden and Yale beating Quinnipiac 3-2 in New Haven for their first win in the series since the 2013 NCAA Championship game in Pittsburgh. Its the first regular season win since a 6-1 on February 18, 2011 and the Bulldogs last home win over Quinnipiac since October 6, 2010 when they beat Quinnipiac 5-1. 

For more in depth on this series check out the Q&A with @Yale_HockeyBlog

Tale of the Tape:

#9 Quinnipiac Bobcats 14-16-4 (9-11-12 ECAC)
2.79 Goals scored per game (Tied for 23rd nationally with UConn, Robert Morris & Holy Cross)
2.74 Goals allowed per game (22nd nationally)
18.52% Power Play (31st nationally)
83.08% Penalty Kill (17th nationally)
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

#8 Yale Bulldogs 15-13-1 (10-11-1 ECAC)
2.93 Goals scored per game (20th nationally)
2.72 Goals allowed per game (20th nationally)
10.61% Power Play (dead last nationally)
82.95% Penalty Kill (19th nationally)
Cleary Cup Championships: 2010, 2009, 1998
Whitelaw Cup Championships: 2011, 2009
NCAA Tournament Appearances: (8) 2016, 2015, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2009, 1998, 1952
NCAA Frozen Four Appearances: (2) 2013, 1952
NCAA National Championships: (1) 2013

Key Players:

QuinnipiacOdeen Tufto, F (39 points), Tanner MacMaster, F (30 points), Chase Priskie, D (23 points, 7 PPG), Alex Whelan, F (17 points, team leading 14 goals), Bo Pieper, F (17 points), Brogan Rafferty, D (15 points), Nick Jermain, F (13 points), Karlis Cukste, D (12 points), Andrew Shortridge, G (2.36 GAA & .906 save %)

Yale: Joe Snively, F (36 points), Ryan Hitchcock, F (19 points), Evan Smith, F (17 points), Ted Hart, F (14 points), Dante Palecco, F (13 points), Robbie DeMontis, F (13 points, plus 10), Charlie Curti, D (11 points, plus 11), Billy Sweezey, D (10 points), Phil Kemp, D (8 points), Corbin Kaczperski, G (1.92 GAA, .936 Save %)

Playoff History:

2013 ECAC Consolation game - Quinnipiac won 3-0
2014 ECAC Quarterfinal - Quinnipiac wins series 2 games to 0

The Skinny:

Quinnipiac has had a ton of past success against Yale in the last seven plus years outside of the loss in the 2013 national championship and a loss at Ingalls this season. The Bobcats have had numerous depth issues especially at forward where they lack high end talent and it has shown on the ice for much of this season when they struggle to score goals. At times they have had to use natural defenseman at forward positions just to help with these issues. It will be interesting to see how the depth issues play out in this series. Both Quinnpiac and Yale feature a star player. For Quinnipiac its freshman Odeen Tufto who is likely the ECAC rookie of the year and may challenge for the National rookie of the year while Yale has Joe Snively'a 36 points including 19 goals helping to pace the Yale offense. Quinnipiac kept Snively pretty quiet in two games with him recording only a single assist in the 3-2 win against the Bobcats in early February. Tufto has 14 multi point games which ties him for the most for an NCAA freshman inn the last six years with Jack Eichel (Boston University). Tufto has a goal and an assist in two games against Yale this season and has points in 9 of his last 10 games and 11 of 13. His 39 points are the most for a Quinnipiac freshman since 43 by Sam Anas back in the 2013-2014 season. Secondary scoring for both teams will be a key as well as who will be in net for each team. Quinnipiac really needs to find scoring from more than just Tufto, MacMaster and a few others so they can rely less on the defense being forced to help offensively and focus more on defending their own end with strong puck movement and gap control. For Yale getting strong defense and timely scoring will go a long way for them if they want to win this series against Quinnipiac. All in all this should be a great weekend of hockey in New Haven.

The Prediction:

Both teams are 6-4 in their last 10 games and Yale picked up a win over Quinnipiac during that stretch along with a season ending win over Harvard which secured the site of this match-up. This is a pretty even match-up in terms of talent maybe Quinnipiac has just a tad more but its not much. The most underrated aspect in this series will be the last change that Yale has in which they can match-up with the Tufto line. While I think the talent level is pretty close between these two teams and the fact that Yale has the ever important final change I think this series should go the distance. Somehow I think Quinnipiac finds a way offensively to get some timely goals. I feel the crowd could help Quinnipiac out as well and the past success to me is a factor and that they just match up really well against the Bulldogs.  It won't be easy but nothing in the ECAC ever is.

Qunnipiac in 3

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