Sunday, February 24, 2019

Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 5-3 loss to Clarkson

Chase Priskie finishes his highlight reel goal past Clarkson's Jake Kielly

It wasn't how Quinnipiac planned senior night at the People's United Bank Center as the Bobcats struggled in a 5-3 loss to Clarkson. It was a night the team honored their five seniors including captain Chase Priskie, assistant captain Scott Davidson, Craig Martin, Luke Shiplo and Brandon Fortunato for their service and dedication to the men's ice hockey program. Here are my thoughts and observations along with some quotes from Rand Pecknold and Chase Priskie following the loss.

- It was a sloppy effort all around for Quinnipiac as they struggled with puck possession all night as Clarkson did a good job in the neutral zone and preventing the Bobcats from having easy entry into the offensive zone. The second period was one of the worst periods of the season when they surrendered four goals to Clarkson. "We didn't buy in and we strayed from our identity, Rand Pecknold said following the loss." 

- The one bright spot on the night was Chase Priskie. His first goal was and end to end masterpiece where he dangled past multiple Clarkson defenders before putting it past Jake Kielly while his second one was a blast from the point that gave him 39 career goals which is the most in school history for a defenseman. What Chase Priskie has accomplished in four years is pretty outstanding. He came in as an undrafted freshman in the summer of 2015 to get an early start and put up a 26 point year to in his freshman season in helping the team reach the Frozen Four. He got drafted that spring by Washington in the 6th round. He followed up his sophomore campaign with another 26 point season and was named the captain for his junior season and had another consistent 25 point season. He returned to Quinnipiac after the team struggled and has turned in a 39 point season so far as a senior leading the team to the brink of the NCAA tournament along with being a Hobey Baker candidate. Throw in the fact that he got his undergrad degree and MBA in four years as a cherry on the top. Chase Priskie is the heart and soul of this team and one of the best players to ever put on a Quinnipiac sweater. 

- Andrew Shortridge was hung out to dry against Clarkson. Hardly any of those goals were his fault and Quinnipiac had sloppy turnovers in their own zone or the neutral zone to lead to breakaways. He did all he could back there with how poorly his defense played in front of him. "You are not going to win in this league or any league 6-5 or 7-6, Chase Priskie said following the loss. We have to be better and we can't give up grade A chances. Andrew played good tonight. We can expect those big time saves every night and we just didn't give him a chance on any of those goals."

- Quinnipiac's top line of Odeen Tufto, Wyatt Bongiovanni and Ethan de Jong really struggled tonight. The line was a combined minus seven on the night with six shots on goal. For this team to have huge success especially come tournament time that line is going to need to have success. Tufto also struggled on the face-off dot winning only 10-of-24. 

- I said after the Friday game that I wanted to see how Quinnipiac responded offensively especially on the power play as you couldn't judge them against a terrible team like St. Lawrence. Tonight they had two massive power play opportunities and fumbled them. In the first period the Bobcats had a five on three advantage for 1:24 and had very few shots while in the second period they had a five minute major which they did nothing on as well. Give Clarkson credit for their penalty kill as it was a difference in the game.

- Speaking of Clarkson that was a hungry and desperate team that played last night. They came into the night having gone 4-4-1 in their last nine games and having dropped to 15th in the pairwise a dangerous spot to be in this late in the season. While this win won't put them in the tournament right now it was a huge boost for them pushing them to 12th in the pairwise and also in position to clinch a first round bye next weekend at home. "I thought Clarkson was really good tonight, said Pecknold in his opening statement. They dug down and finished their chances. They were good on special teams and they deserved to win." 

- What is it with the struggles of Quinnipiac on Saturday night the second night of a back to back? They are 6-6-1 on the second night of the weekend with their Friday record 11-1-1. Part of it is you are practicing and game planning for your Friday opponent while its really unknown how much prep goes into the Saturday opponent until right after the Friday game ends. Add in the fact that this is a young team playing 9-10 freshman a night and you are going to have some struggles at times. However if you want to have success in the ECAC tournament and NCAA tournament you are going to need to prove you can consistently win those back to back games. 

- A night after RPI's surprise win put Quinnipiac in the driver's seat for the Cleary Cup, the Bobcats moved into the passenger seat with the loss to Clarkson coupled with Cornell's win over Union 3-1. The Big Red moved a point ahead of Quinnipiac with just two league games remaining next weekend. Cornell travels up to St. Lawrence on Friday followed by a huge showdown with Clarkson on Saturday night. Cornell should beat the Saints pretty easily but should be in a battle with the Golden Knights the following night.

- It's pretty amazing that as we head to the final weekend of ECAC play that no team has clinched a first round bye yet. Seven teams can still get a bye though teams in spots 5-7 need some serious help for that to happen but Cornell is in the drivers seat for the Cleary Cup needing just a win coupled with losses by Quinnipiac and Harvard on Friday to clinch it. Quinnipiac needs some help as they will likely need to sweep the weekend or get a win and tie with Cornell and Harvard both losing a game to win the regular season title. Whoever finishes 5th will get St. Lawrence in the first round as they are the only team locked into a spot. For any team on the pairwise bubble it is not an opponent that will help them either.

- It's on to Brown. The Bears came into Quinnipiac on February 9th and took it to the Bobcats winning 4-1 and really dominating the neutral zone and the fore-check. Quinnipiac needs to play a much better possession game and on defense if they want to beat a surging Brown squad who have clearly played above the 12th place finish they were predicted in the preseason. One mentality for Quinnipiac that they need to do is just focus on the Brown Bears and not the game against the Yale Bulldogs the next night in New Haven. Brown is the most important game on the schedule right now and if they want to win the Cleary Cup as regular season champions they will need to win that game in Providence first.

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