Saturday, February 9, 2019

Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 4-1 loss to Brown

It was a tough night in Hamden as Quinnipiac fell 4-1 to Brown

A night after beating up on its Whitney Avenue rival,  Quinnipiac had a letdown performance as they were beaten 4-1 by the Brown Bears who swept their weekend slate of games against Quinnipiac and Princeton. It was a surprise letdown after the strong effort a night ago against Yale when the Bobcats were relentless on the ice and took it to their opponent. Here are my thoughts and observations after the Brown game.

- A night after Quinnipiac's best effort of the season when they played a complete 60 minute game, the Bobcats struggled against Brown in their first loss in almost a month. It was very surprising that the energy level was not the same as it was the night before against when they played a rival. The team started slow in the first period and from the get go you could tell it was not going to be as easy as the Yale game was. Quinnipiac is going to need to have better back to back efforts especially when playoff time comes around. I would think Rand Pecknold and the coaching staff will have a tough week of practice after this one tonight. 

- Quinnipiac had 48 shots on goal but a strong effort from backup goaltender Luke Kania was the difference. Kania saw the puck well and made some key saves especially in the third period. This was Kania's best effort of the season against one of the best teams in the country. Sometimes you need to tip your cap to the opposing goaltender and tonight was one of those nights.

- Brown was really strong on the fore-check tonight and it really was a difference for them in their win over Quinnipiac. The forecheck led to a turnover in the Quinnipiac defensive zone which led to the third goal for the Bears. Brown was relentless against Quinnipiac tonight forcing turnovers and making it tough for Quinnipiac to bring the puck into the offensive zone at times. They also had good puck possession on the night that led to their scoring opportunities. Credit to the Bears for controlling the pace of this game and taking Quinnipiac off their game tonight.

- One of the themes in three of Quinnipiac's worst losses this season against Dartmouth, Union and now Brown, has been their lack of starting fast in each of them. All three games saw Quinnipiac fail to score in the first period, and in two of those games (Dartmouth and Brown) they failed to score in the first two periods. For Quinnipiac to be successful in my opinion they need those first period goals to put pressure on the opposing team instead of having to chase those teams for goals later in the game. 

- The Brown defense is highly improved from a season ago even though they lack star power on the back end. They did a great job against Quinnipiac with 19 blocked shots and making sure they limited second chance opportunities and clearing pucks out of the zone effectively. They have a strong work ethic and it seems Brendan Whittet is getting the most out of this team who are now .500 on the season after five consecutive losing seasons. 

- The first three minutes of the third period saw four goals. Brown took control of the game with two goals in the first minute and five seconds of the period before Brogan Rafferty scored on the power play a minute later. Just when it looked like Quinnipiac might get back into the game, Brown scored a minute later to push the lead back to three goals. The goal by Jack Gessert seemed to take the air out of the building even with a little under 16 minutes to play in the game. 

Brown won against Quinnipiac for the first time in ten games

- Chase Priskie and Wyatt Bongiovanni combined for 20 shots on net against Brown which was almost half of the teams shots on the night. While Priskie assisted on the Rafferty power play goal both him and Bongiovanni were a combined minus two on the night. Its tough to see two of the teams best players not find the back of the net when they put that many shots on goal.

- You have to wonder how much air was taken out from the team after news of the season ending injury to senior Brandon Fortunato which was first reported by the blog Saturday morning. A broken fibula ends the collegiate career to a player that was playing some of his best hockey of the season and of his career. Fortunato who finished the season with 28 points would have likely hit the 40 point plateau had he not gotten hurt. His ability to move pucks out of the zone and his power play ability will clearly be missed along with his veteran presence on the back end. He is only one of five players on the Quinnipiac roster with NCAA tournament experience having been to the Frozen Four with Boston University back in the 2015 season. 

- How smart does the Quinnipiac coaching staff look now for bringing in Cam Boudreau for the second half of the season? The freshman is going to be thrust into a larger role along with fellow freshman Zach Metsa and Peter Diliberatore with the latter already seeing top four minutes. All three will be relied upon to pick up the slack for their injured teammate along with versatile senior Luke Shiplo. 

- Andrew Shortridge gave up four goals on 29 shots but I think the defense in front him didn't do a good enough job of clearing pucks out of the zone in this game. This was the first game all season in which Shortridge allowed more than three goals in a game which shows just how good he has been.

- With the loss, Quinnipiac now is three points behind Cornell for first place in the ECAC standings. Currently in second place with 21 points, the Bobcats are going to need some help if they want to win the Cleary Cup as regular season champions but that probably requires no more slip ups the rest of the way as well. It probably will be tough to catch the Big Red who have only lost one game since December 1st.

- It's on to the capital region of New York for Quinnipiac as they head to Union on Friday followed by RPI on Saturday night. Quinnipiac is winless in six games against Union dating back to the 2015-2016 season when they beat the Dutchmen 5-0 in Hamden. The Bobcats haven't won at Union since November of 2014 when they won 4-3 over the then defending national champions.

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