Saturday, February 16, 2019

Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 1-1 tie against Union

Andrew Shortridge was the best player on the ice for Quinnipiac against Union

While this wasn't the most pretty performance for Quinnipiac, they were still able to salvage a point after a 1-1 tie against a tough Union team on the road. In the ECAC there are no easy games each and every week you look up and down the league scoreboard and you can constantly find upsets. Both teams battled hard and goal-tending stole the show. It was a fast paced game with a good amount of action despite only two goals scored. Here are my thoughts and observations after the Union game.

- Andrew Shortridge made 27 saves and on this night Quinnipiac needed every single one of them. He made a huge save in the first period on a shot from close range and another one in overtime with the game on the line. Shortridge showed why he should be a finalist for the Mike Richter award with this performance as he was the best player on the ice for the Bobcats and they might have lost this game tonight if it weren't for him. In each of the seasons that Quinnipiac has reached the Frozen Four they have gotten outstanding goal-tending first from Eric Hartzell in 2013 when he was a top three finalist for the Hobey Baker award and in 2016 from Michael Garteig. With the way Shortridge has played this year, he could carry this team to Buffalo. 

- Quinnipiac's top line provided the only scoring when Odeen Tufto sent a pass from the end wall into the slot where Wyatt Bongiovanni sent one past Hanson for his 11th goal of the season. Ethan de Jong got a secondary assist on the goal. Bongiovanni is third on the team in goals scored with 11 trailing Chase Priskie (14) and Odeen Tufto (13). He's been an excellent add to the Quinnipiac roster this season. 

- William Fallstrom was a monster on the face-off dot. He won 20 of 24 face-offs on the night for the Bobcats and helped win some key possession battles. His teammate Odeen Tufto really struggled on face-offs tonight winning onlly 7 of 25 face-offs. They need better than that from their top line center especially when some of these are happening in the offensive zone and could lead to extra scoring chances for Quinnipiac. 

- The ice at Messa Rink was really terrible all night. Pucks weren't being controlled like they usually are and they were bouncing over sticks multiple times. Its pretty unacceptable for the ice of a Division I hockey team especially one that has won a national championship in the past five years to be as bad as it was tonight. 

- Union's defense was really good tonight taking time and space away from Quinnipiac and making it difficult at times to get pucks into the zone. The Dutchmen also blocked an astounding 25 shot attempts on the night. Darion Hanson also was fantastic for Union with 27 saves on the night. He continues to make a difference for Union in goal and has been a thorn in Quinnipiac's side twice this season only allowing two goals against a powerful Bobcat offense. 

- This was a very chippy game was a bunch of extra curricular stuff after whistles. However the officials swallowed their whistles tonight and assessed only two minor penalties on the night with a boarding call on Union's Zachary Emelifeonwu in the first period and a hooking call on Quinnipiac's Karlis Cukste in the third period. These are the types of games you want to see the players win on their own and not have the referees decide it.

- Quinnipiac is still hasn't won in six games against Union dating back to the 2015-2016 season. They also have not won at Messa Rink since the 2014-2015 season. The Dutchmen will be a tough out in the ECAC playoffs and not a team that I would want to face in the quarterfinals should Quinnipiac get a first round bye. 

- The tie dropped Quinnipiac to 6th in the pairwise after Friday night but they remain three points behind first place Cornell who tied Brown 3-3. Quinnipiac is now tied for second place in the ECAC standings with Harvard at 22 points with identical 10-5-2 record. Spots 2-7 in the ECAC standings are now separated by a total of four points so expect a lot of chaos in the next few weeks of conference play.

- Tomorrow's game against 9-17-2 RPI will be a challenge. This is a team that has started to play well in the second half of the season and has found themselves a goaltender in Owen Savory. They can't be overlooked at all especially after rallying from two goals down against Princeton and winning 6-2. The Engineer players are starting to buy into second year coach Dave Smith.

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