Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Q&A with the UVM Hockey Blog

Quinnipiac vs. Vermont in the 2017 season in Hamden, CT

With the 2018-2019 Quinnipiac hockey season set to commence this weekend against Vermont in Burlington we had a chance to catch up with our friends over at the UVM Hockey Blog who were gracious enough to do a Q&A about the match-up between Quinnipiac and Vermont. If you love college hockey and follow other college hockey team blogs give a follow to @TheVTHockeyBlog on Twitter.

@QHockeyBlog: Coming off a losing season what are the expectations up in Burlington this season for the Catamounts?

@TheVTHockeyBlog: From the fan base perspective not very high. A lot of fans are disillusioned with the program at the moment, particularly with the odd timing of Kevin Sneddon's extension last season. Our top scorer from last season, Ross Colton, left after his sophomore year for a professional contract. The Michigan win last weekend may have given fans reason to hope, especially because there is talent on this team, but I think we're still keeping our expectations tempered. I think most people would consider a successful season to be "make the damn playoffs'.

@QHockeyBlog: How stunned were you they beat Michigan in Ann Arbor?

@TheVTHockeyBlog: I'm still trying to process that game, ha ha. On the road, in one of college hockey's most hostile road environments, against a preseason top-five team, during their homecoming is not a game I expect to win even in a good year. I hope it's a sign of things to come, but again, trying not to overreact to one game.

@TheVTHockeyBlog: What are the expectations for Quinnipiac this year coming off a disappointing 2017-2018 season?

@QHockeyBlog: From the fan perspective I think finishing with a potential top 4 finish in the ECAC and a winning season would be something nice to accomplish. Inside that locker room my guess is they have much higher expectations. I picked them 5th in the media poll for the ECAC and it would not surprise me if they topped that depending if a lot of the freshman contribute right away.  This team has 12 incoming freshman the most they have had in a few years and limited upperclassmen. In order for great success this year it will have to be the young kids playing well.

@TheVTHockeyBlog: You mention the freshmen, who are some of the big names to look out for that may make an impact right away?

@QHockeyBlog: In terms of the freshman that should make an impact right away are Ethan de Jong, Wyatt Bongiovanni, William Fallstrom, Desi Burgart and Peter Diliberatore. The first four are forwards and Diliberatore is a defenseman and a draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights. Diliberatore is also a true freshman and making a huge jump from prep hockey to NCAA hockey so there may be some adjustment for him in terms of the speed of the college game.

@QHockeyBlog: With the loss of Ross Colton who is Vermont looking to have score for them this season?

@TheVTHockeyBlog: I think Vermont is trying to replace him by improvements across the board since they can't straight-up replace his skill level. The top two lines both played very well against Michigan, especially the top line of Matt Alvaro, Liam Coughlin, and Alex Esposito who combined on Vermont's first two goals. Esposito was sneaky good last year and appears to have picked up where he left off. I'd also look for more from sophomores Bryce Misley and Vlad Dzhioshvili; both had disappointing freshman years (though Dzhioshvili's was mostly due to injury), but those two looked good on a line with classmate Martin Frechette against Michigan.

@QHockeyBlog: What would you say are the strengths of this Vermont team?

@TheVTHockeyBlog: I think the biggest strength is the forecheck. During the Michigan game, they were very aggressive on the forecheck, constantly swarming the Wolverine defenseman and daring them to make mistakes. They do have a lot of speed on the team which helps them pull this off. It also helps that the Vermont blue-line is a bit more experienced now. You could see some "young team jitters" from them last year, and while they did give up a ton of shots in Ann Arbor I do think they have the potential to at least be decent.

@TheVTHockeyBlog: What's the goalie situation looking like for Quinnipiac? Keith Petruzzelli came in with a lot of hype last year but wasn't the stalwart that many expected.

@QHockeyBlog: Your guess is as good as mine. Both goalies are talented but Petruzzelli has the most upside of both of them. I really think that coach Pecknold needs to find a goalie that stays hot and ride him. If you look at Quinnipiac’s past success from 2013-2016, it was Eric Hartzell who dominated in 2013 en route to the Frozen Four as a Hobey Baker finalist followed by Michael Garteig in 2014, 2015 and 2016 setting the school record for wins and leading them to another Frozen Four. The last two years you saw a tandem and the results were a solid season two years ago just missing the NCAA tournament and the first losing season in 22 years last year. I think it’s a must to have consistency in net and ride a hot net minder.

@QHockeyBlog: What are some of the weaknesses of Vermont that Quinnipiac could possibly exploit this Saturday?

@TheVTHockeyBlog:  I know I just said the defense is a bit more experienced, but they did show some early-season jitters against Michigan, I think the shot attempts were something like 80-40, and while a lot of that was on Michigan's power play and just basic score effects, it's something to keep an eye on.

@TheVTHockeyBlog: What are some of the Quinnipiac's strengths and weaknesses?

@QHockeyBlog: The top four of the Bobcats defense should be good led by captain Chase Priskie and they have two good goaltenders that just need to show consistency. I would say the offense is a weakness as they were not very good last year. But they can definitely change that with the young kids breaking out and some of the upperclassmen having good years.

@TheVTHockeyBlog: What's the biggest key to beating this team?

@QHockeyBlog: I would say you have to beat them in the neutral zone, win lose pucks and have a strong forecheck. That is normally how Quinnipiac has its success against most teams.

@TheVTHockeyBlog: What do you expect from this game? As the first game of the season, do you expect some kinks with such a large incoming class?

@QHockeyBlog: They already played an exhibition game, a 5-2 win over the University of Prince Edward Island. The offense was very solid and they moved the puck well but Rand Pecknold said they still have some things to clean up prior to the Vermont game. There could be some early freshman jitters but we won't know until Saturday. Quinnipiac really needs to win this game to get off on the right foot this season and to build confidence.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

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