Thursday, February 7, 2019

Weekend Preview: Yale/Brown

Quinnipiac returns home for a key weekend series against Yale & Brown

Yale Head Coach: Keith Allain (13th season) 231-151-42

2018-2019 Yale record: 11-7-3 (9-4-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. Yale : Quinnipiac leads series 20-7-5

Yale Key Players: Joe Snively (F), Robbie DeMontis (F), Justin Pearson (F), Kevin O'Neill (F), Curtis Hall (F), Phil Kemp (D), Jack St. Ivany (D), Sam Tucker (G), Corbin Kaczperski (G)

A week after an impressive sweep in North Country, Quinnipiac returns home with its Whitney Avenue rival waiting in the wings. While Quinnipiac treats this as a rivalry game I am not sure the same can be said on the Yale side. Frankly I think the Bobcats rivalry with Cornell is more real because the hatred is real between the two teams and they have faced off in multiple playoff series. After a 7-2-2 start, the Bulldogs have cooled off going just 4-5-1 since December 11th. This under .500 stretch has pushed them to 22nd in the pairwise rankings and needing a strong finish to jump up into the top 16.

Yale is 28th in the country in goals scored at 2.95 per game but take Joe Snively out of the equation and this is a totally different Yale team. Snively who has 27 points on 13 goals and 14 assists accounts for 20% of the Yale goals this season. He is the key in order to shutting down the Bulldog offense. If you can prevent him from getting on the score sheet there is a good you are going to win the game as the Bulldogs offense outside of him struggles to generate much offense. A lot was expected of Bruins 4th round pick Curtis Hall but he's amounted just 5 points this year. Three players outside of Snively have 14 points apiece in junior Robbie DeMontis, sophomore Kevin O'Neil and freshman Justin Pearson. Even more was expected out of the Smith twins and they have combined for just 16 points. If there is an area where Yale has been good, it is the power play as they are scoring on 20% of their chances this year which is good for 20th in the country. The key for Quinnipiac must be to shut Snively down.

On defense Yale is about in the middle of the pack at 2.71 goals allowed per game which is 27th in the country. They have some nice talent back there in players like Phil Kemp, Jack St. Ivany and Chandler Lindstrand but the expectation was the defense would have been a bit better as Graham Lillibridge has probably played below expectations. On the penalty kill the Bulldogs are average at 81.4% which is good for 28th in the country.

Keith Allain continues to split his goaltenders. Sam Tucker and Corbin Kaczperski have basically split the season in net. While Kaczperski was clearly the better goaltender last season when they platooned, this year it is Tucker with the better overall numbers at a 2.30 goals against average and a .920 save percentage while Kaczperski  has a 2.70 goals against and a .897 save percentage.

With the two teams tied in the ECAC standings, the winner of this game could find itself in first place in the conference at the end of the night depending on other results from around the conference.

Brown Head Coach: Brendan Whittet (10th year) 92-178-42

2018-2019 Brown record: 8-10-3 (5-6-3 ECAC)

All-time vs. Brown: Quinnipiac leads 23-7-6

Brown Key Players: Tommy Marchin (F), Tristan Crozier (F), Alex Brink (F), Joachim Weberg (F), Justin Jallen (F), Zach Giuttari (D), Max Gottlieb (D), Gavin Nieto (G)

Quinnipiac has eight straight wins against Brown dating back to the 2015-2016 season and a ten game unbeaten streak against them dating back to the 2014-2015 season. The last Quinnipiac loss against Brown came almost five years ago on February 15, 2014 when they lost a 4-2 game at Meehan Auditorium. The Bobcats have dominated this series including playoff series wins in 2017, 2012, 2011 and 2008 to boot.

Brown has an offense that has struggled at times to find the back of the net. Averaging just 2.57 goals per game, that ties them for 42nd in the country in that category. They lack high end talent that can score goals in bunches. Tommy Marchin is the leading scorer at 13 points while freshman Tristan Crozier has given them 11 points on 4 goals and 7 assists. Fellow freshman Justin Jallen has five goals while sophomore Joachim Weberg has five as well. The Bears are the worst team in the country on the power play converting at just a shade of 9% (6-of-66) so they are not a major threat in that category but its always wise not give teams the man advantage.

Defensively Brown is a middle of the pack team giving up 2.86 goals per game which is 34th in the country. Zach Giuttari has been really good on the back end for Brown with 11 points, 4 game winning goals and is a plus 10 this season. Senior Max Gottlieb has 9 points and is a plus one. On the penalty kill Brown is 26th in the country at 82.6%. Brown will need a strong effort out of its defense as Quinnipiac possesses a lot of fire power on offense and many ways they can beat you.

Gavin Nieto has gotten the majority of the starts for Brown and has stabilized the position going 7-5-1 with a 2.45 goals against average and a .912 save percentage with one shutout. He has won three of his last four starts and has six wins since the start of December. The California native has gotten better in each season for the Bears and he will need to play well for Brown to have a chance against a good Quinnipiac team.

Quinnipiac has the better talent and overall the better team. Give Brown credit for playing almost .500 hockey with the lack of elite talent they have on the roster. The Bobcats need to keep hot and beat a lesser team in Brown as they strive to winning the Cleary Cup.

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