Thursday, January 31, 2019

Weekend Preview: Clarkson/St. Lawrence

Andrew Shortridge and the Quinnipiac Bobcats look to have a strong weekend in North Country

Clarkson Head Coach: Casey Jones (8th season) 136-123-36

2018-2019 Clarkson record: 17-7-0 (8-4-0 ECAC)

All-time vs. Clarkson: Quinnipiac leads series 15-11-3

Clarkson Key Players: Nico Sturm (F), Haralds Egle (F), Jack Jacome (F), Devin Brosseau (F), Josh Dunne (F), Aaron Thow (D), Greg Moro (D), Connor McCarthy (D), Jake Kielly (G)

Quinnipiac now treks on its longest road trip of the season as they head to North Country to face Clarkson and St. Lawrence. First up it a match-up against #10 Clarkson at Cheel Arena. The Golden Knights are hot having won nine out of their last ten games with the lone loss a 4-3 overtime defeat at Harvard. They have quality wins against Arizona State and defending champion Minnesota-Duluth this season. They have a couple of bad losses to Canisius and St. Lawrence that they probably would like to have back especially if they are close to the cut line towards the end of the season but this is a very solid team and will be a big challenge for Quinnipiac on the road.

Clarkson's offense is legit. They are 8th in the country in goals scored per game at 3.38 and they boost a lot of talent up front. Nico Sturm leads the team with 12 goals and 29 points while Haralds Egle has 11 goals and 26 points. Freshman Josh Dunne has been strong for Clarkson with 8 goals on 13 points while Jack Jacome and Devin Brosseau have 19 and 17 points respectively. Not only are they strong offensively they bring a top 20 power play unit to the table converting at a rate of 20.73%. Quinnipiac is going to have to play strong sound defense as this is a team that can score at will at times.

Not only do they boost a top ten offense, they are also one of the top defensive teams in the country just behind Quinnipiac. They yield just 1.88 goals a game which is good for 3rd in the country and this is without guys like Kelly Summers and Terrance Amorosa who graduated after last season. Senior Aaron Thow is the leader of the group but it has been the emergence of junior Greg Moro, junior Jordan Schneider and sophomore Connor McCarthy that have paved the way for success for Clarkson. The defense was thought to have a bit of a drop off with the departure of Summers and Amorosa but they have been just as good as a season ago. Just as Clarkson has a good power play they have probably an even better penalty kill at just a shade over 85%. Quinnipiac will need a strong effort from its forwards winning neutral zone battles along with hunting the puck if they want to put some goals in against Clarkson and they also need to be able to create traffic in front of Kielly.

Goaltender Jake Kielly has been one of the most consistent goaltenders in the ECAC and probably the country the past three seasons. He had a strong season a year ago when he helped lead Clarkson back to the NCAA tournament and he has added to it with an even better season so far than a year ago. He's played in all 24 games this season and has five shutouts along with a .932 save percentage. Four of his shutouts have come since December 8th so he is in the midst of a hot streak right now.

These two teams for the past few years have usually split the season series. I would expect a hard fought game as not only are they teams jockeying for ECAC position but they are trying to cement their place in the pairwise rankings.

St. Lawrence Head Coach: Mark Morris (3rd year) 28-60-10, 334-216-52 overall

2018-2019 St. Lawrence record: 3-20-1 (1-10-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. St. Lawrence: St. Lawrence leads series 15-13-5

St. Lawrence Key Players: Carson Gicewicz (F), Zach Risteau (F), David Jankowski (F), Cade Gleekel (F), Michael Ederer (F), Jake Stevens (D),

St. Lawrence is by far the worst team in the east this season. A once proud program has been turned into a bottom feeder in three short years by Mark Morris. After a program worst 27 losses a season ago, the Saints are on pace to eclipse that mark this season. I'm not sure where this program is headed under Mark Morris who really never had to build a program in his college coaching career as he was put into a ready made situation at Clarkson. He's basically torn down everything Greg Carvel built and turned it into mush. For people that root for St. Lawrence hockey this era has to be pretty difficult to watch.

While this isn't the worst offense in the country, it is up their with the likes of other ECAC opponents in RPI and Colgate. St. Lawrence averages 1.92 goals per game. They have only scored four or more goals in a game four times this season and three of those were wins including a road win at Minnesota and their only ECAC win over Clarkson. Cade Gleekel leads the team in goals with five along with freshman David Jankowski. Junior Carson Gicewicz is the only Saint with double digit points (11). St. Lawrence also has a power play that has struggled (16.47%)  to find much consistency this season and Quinnipiac does a very good job of limiting opposing teams chances on the man advantage.

You will not find a worse defense in college hockey than the one St. Lawrence has. With no upperclassmen they have to roll with a defense that is entirely made up of sophomores and freshman. They have been atrocious giving up a nation high 4.08 goals per game this season. They struggle to move the puck out of their own zone and that is usually a recipe for disaster. Quinnipiac should be able to take advantage of the inexperience on the St. Lawrence defense especially with the skill they have up front. The penalty kill is below average at 78.7% for the season.

Arthur Brey who was the starter for the majority of last season has a been a disaster in goal much like his two teammates in Daniel Mannella and freshman Emil Zetterquist. They not found a goaltender that has been reliable but a lot of it can be attributed to the poor defense in front of them. Any of the three could get the start for St. Lawrence as not one player has nailed down the job full time.

This is a game Quinnipiac should win and win fairly easily. Its a game that they clearly cannot drop not only for ECAC standings but pairwise rankings as well. Anything less than a win against St. Lawrence would be an utter failure especially where these two teams are right now respectively.

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