|Quinnipiac split a weekend series with #10 UMass|
The first half of the season officially came to an end on Saturday as Quinnipiac ended the first half on a high note with a 2-1 win over UMass Amherst snapping the 16 game unbeaten streak of the Minutemen at the Mullins Center in the process. The team finished the first half 7-7-1 after a weekend split against UMass and there are areas where the team should be encouraged with. Here are my thoughts and observations from the weekend series.
- Quinnipiac played hard on Friday despite losing 3-0 and had some bad breaks in the game which UMass was able to capitalize on. The two teams played a period and a half of scoreless before the Minutemen broke through on a redirected goal by Keith Petruzzelli. UMass next scored via a power play on an undisciplined play by Joe O'Connor who took an unnecessary slashing penalty. UMass captain Mitchell Chaffee sealed the victory with a short handed empty net goal.
- Despite the loss of Cale Makar among others, UMass still has a really solid team this year that should challenge for another NCAA tournament berth. They play hard and didn't quit Saturday despite trailing by two goals. While they probably won't reach the same heights as last season, they are still building something special under Greg Carvel in Amherst for a program that should be really good for years to come.
- The ECAC officials were awful in this game letting this game become chippy to the point of being borderline out of control. The non-call to the head of Quinnipiac's William Fallstrom was flat out embarrassing as Fallstrom never returned to the game and missed the following nights game. These are plays that need to be called correctly. That should have been a five minute power play for Quinnipiac and the result of this was the O'Connor slashing penalty leading to the second goal for UMass.
- Despite losing this game, Keith Petruzzelli stood out with some really spectacular play and he carried that into the following night when he helped win a big game on the road when the Bobcats were desperate. He stopped 52 shots on the weekend as both his goals against average and save percentage continue to trend in the right direction. The hope is that the break won't stop the momentum the junior has right now as he has really been a strong presence in between the pipes.
- The defense has really turned the corner in my mind. They went into the season talented but very inexperienced but the play by the blue line over the weekend was very solid especially on Saturday night. They are retrieving pucks and moving them out of the zone quickly. While there is an occasional turnover here and there, the way they have played the last six games should be a plus for the second half of the season.
- Quinnipiac's offensive struggles were on display again this past weekend as they just scored two goals the entire weekend. The offense was suppose to be one of the teams strengths but they are really hurting the team right now. While they have a lot of young players, the sophomores who were freshman a season ago haven't built off what they did last season. They need more from the players up front if they want to make a second half run and be a dangerous team in conference play.
- The power play is still having issues and Quinnipiac needs to use the break in order to figure a way to get that corrected as they can't continue to be in the 12% range on the man advantage. They have been slow moving the puck and not getting quality shots off. Good to great power plays excel at moving the puck quickly and not having a lot of indecision with the puck which is what is happening now with Quinnipiac.
- One area Quinnipiac has excelled with is winning face-offs. The face-off win percentage is at 54.4% which ties them for 5th in the country with Alaska. They need to is use that to their advantage to create puck possession in the offensive zone which will lead to more quality scoring chances.
- Next on tap for Quinnipiac is a home and home with the Princeton Tigers on December 28th and 29th. These next three weeks will hopefully get the Bobcats in a better place mentally and physically so they can attack in the second half come the end of Decemeber.