Friday, October 26, 2018

Weekend Preview: AIC Yellow Jackets

Brogan Rafferty & the Quinnipiac Bobcats head to AIC off to their best start in 3 years

AIC Head Coach: Eric Lang (3rd season) 25-42-13

2018-2019 AIC record: 2-2-1

All-time vs. AIC: Quinnipiac leads series 23-4-1

AIC Key Players: Blake Christensen (F), Hugo Reinhardt (F), Martin Mellberg (F), Jared Pike (F), Brennan Kapcheck (D), Nicolas Luka (D), Janis Jaks (D), Stefano Durante (G)

For the first time since the 2012-2013 season Quinnipiac will face an old foe from their days in Atlantic Hockey when they play a weekend series against American International College beginning with Friday nights game in Springfield followed by a return to Hamden for the Saturday game. The Yellow Jackets are led by 3rd year coach Eric Lang who has breathed life into this once dormant program. A move to the Mass Mutual Center has helped as well especially on the recruiting front. Historically Quinnipiac has beat up on AIC like a big brother would do to a little brother but the AIC scored its most recent win against Quinnipiac in the Bobcats first Frozen Four season when they beat them 2-1 in Hamden on November 6, 2012. You will see a ton of international flavor with the Yellow Jackets as they have 11 players from Europe, another five from Canada and the rest spanning from nine different U.S. States.

The Yellow Jackets return 81 of 88 goals from a season ago with most of those players being underclassmen a year ago. AIC now has more experience and confidence coming off their best season at the Division I level last year. The Yellow Jackets have some talent up from led by Blake Christensen (6 points), Hugo Reinhardt (4 points), Martin Mellberg (4 points), Shawn McBride (4 points) and Jared Pike (2 points). In five games played the AIC power play has also netted four goals. The AIC offense was strong last weekend netting nine goals against Bentley in a win and a tie so they have the ability to score a handful of goals. 

The AIC defense is only allowing 21.2 shot attempts per game which is very solid. They have some nice offensive talent on the blue line in Brennan Kapcheck (5 points, plus 3), Janis Jaks (1 point) and Patrick Demel (3 points). The penalty kill has struggled for AIC only killing off 77.3% of the opposing teams power play. Quinnipiac has had its power play struggles dating back to last year which have carried into this season as well. This game could be a good opportunity for Quinnipiac to break out of their power play funk.

Sophomore goaltender Stefano Durante burst onto the scene last year for AIC as a freshman going 12-12-2 with a 2.27 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. This season has been a bit of a struggle so far. He is 2-1-1 with a 2.93 goals against average which looks good on paper but he has a .844 save percentage which just isn't going to cut it. They will need better play from him if they want to match up with Quinnipiac this weekend.

A week after shutting out Boston College at home Quinnipiac now cannot have a let down against a lessor opponent in AIC. Two wins is a must here to continue the trend upwards and to build confidence for the ECAC slate which begins next weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth.

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