Sunday, March 31, 2019

Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 2-1 Regional Semifinal win over Arizona State

Quinnipiac beat Arizona State 2-1 in the Midwest Region Semifinal

Quinnipiac returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since losing the 2016 National Championship game to North Dakota. After not playing in two weeks due to a stunning quarterfinal loss, Quinnipiac got back on the ice against a team that had not played in almost a month when they met independent Arizona State. The Sun Devils in just their fourth season of Division I play and their third with a full Division I schedule gave Quinnipiac all it could handle down the stretch as the Bobcats hung on to defeat the Sun Devils 2-1 in the Midwest Regional Semifinals. Here are my thoughts and observations from the win over Arizona State.

- Quinnipiac advances to its third regional final in program history as it survived tournament newcomer Arizona State 2-1 on Saturday night in Allentown, PA. Despite Quinnipiac dominating Arizona State on shots 38-21, this game was much closer and was a total nail biter at the end. The Bobcats had to hang on for dear life and they caught a break late when Jarrod Gourley was given a major penalty from a hit from behind on Nick Jermain. This was a critical play as the Sun Devils were swarming up to that point and for the Bobcats to finish the game on the man advantage was huge as it bought them some time to milk the clock a bit until Arizona State had to pull goaltender Joey Daccord.

- This was not a great effort from Quinnipiac at times outside of the second period. They got a gift first goal by Joe O'Connor when Joey Daccord was slow to react and the puck went five hole in between his legs. That is one that Daccord should have had and he will probably have trouble sleeping tonight as that goal was a difference maker in this one goal game. Daccord saved Arizona State in the second period when Quinnipiac out shot them 18-2 and while Quinnipiac got a single goal from William Fallstrom they could have really blown the doors open if it wasn't for Daccord. The third period was survival mode especially at the 11:42 mark when Brinson Pasichnuk got the Sun Devils within a goal. Arizona State really outplayed the Bobcats from that point on until the major penalty broke up the momentum. Had there been no major penalty, I could have seen Arizona State tying this game up as they were playing that well.

- Quinnipiac did a really good job holding one of the best scorers in the country in Johnny Walker to just one shot. They bottled him up and frustrated him all night and did a good back checking on him. Keeping him off the score sheet was a big reason why Quinnipiac is moving on as he is extremely dangerous every time he touches the puck.

- Outside of Joey Daccord, Arizona State defensemen Brinson Pasichnuk was the best player on the ice for the Sun Devils. He scored the first ever goal for the Sun Devils in the tournament and led them with six shots on goal. He was swarming in the third period as a he played some big minutes down the stretch as the Sun Devils shortened their bench in crunch time.

- It was the third straight game for the Quinnipiac top line being held scoreless. Tufto, Bongiovanni and de Jong were held to just eight shots in the game against the Sun Devils. Against Minnesota Duluth, that line is going to need to show up if they want to reach of the Frozen Four in Buffalo as this line has accounted for 25% of the Bobcats offense this season. Tufto despite not getting on the stat sheet did a really good job tonight of winning 14 of 22 face offs including some critical ones late.

- The Quinnipiac power play was 0 for 3 tonight and even the return of Chase Priskie didn't help it improve. The passing was poor and they got very few quality looks against the Sun Devils. This is a unit that has clearly struggled since the loss of Fortunato as the power play percentage is down over 10% since his loss. They need to figure out a way to get better looks especially against Minnesota Duluth tomorrow.

- Speaking of Priskie, that was a quiet night for him with only one shot on goal. The captain had not played in 28 days since he was ejected in the Yale game and was suspended for the Brown series. Let's hope it was just a little rust he had to clear off and he will have a big effort in leading Quinnipiac to a possible Frozen Four trip.

- Andrew Shortridge was good again tonight for Quinnipiac with 20 saves as he did what he needed to do against a pesky Arizona State team. He caught a huge break in the third period when the officials blew dead a play in which the puck was clearly loose in the crease. The play was reviewed to see if it possibly went across the goal line but it was clear it never crossed the line. It gave Quinnipiac a bit of a breather which they desperately needed.

- I love when players like Joe O'Connor score goals. The third line winger hasn't scored a goal in over four months since November 23rd but he scored one of the biggest goals of the season tonight. This was only his third goal of the season O'Connor scoring just 3:54 into the game gave Quinnipiac the momentum it needed especially after the struggles of the Brown series.

- Arizona State will be back in the NCAA tournament again in the near future. Greg Powers has done an unbelievable job elevating this program to a national contender in just four short years. Once they get a permanent rink and a possible conference, the sky is the limit with them. I hope that other PAC-12 schools were watching this and say to themselves that this could be them in a few years.

- If Quinnipiac wants to advance to the Frozen Four in Buffalo they will have to play much better against Minnesota Duluth than they did on Saturday night along with having better skating legs late as I thought they really struggled to get the puck out of their own end in the third period. The Bulldogs are a totally different animal than the Sun Devils. They are the defending national champions and have been the Frozen Four the past two seasons and are the NCHC tournament champions. The Bulldogs needed a late goal to tie Bowling Green before dispatching the Falcons in overtime to advance to the Midwest Regional Final. The Bulldogs are loaded on the back end and have a top level goaltender in Hunter Shepard. They have one of the best coaches in Scott Sandelin as well. This will be the Bobcats first matchup ever with Minnesota Duluth and it won't be easy to knock out the defending champions. This is probably the toughest team Quinnipiac will have ever faced in a regional final.

- Despite what happens tomorrow night, win or lose this season has been one of the most enjoyable to watch. Picked to finish 8th in the ECAC, this team has 26 wins and is on the door step of another Frozen Four appearance. I don't think anyone expected this team to reach a regional final with the amount of freshman they are playing every night. The future is bright in Hamden.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

NCAA Hockey Midwest Regional Preview

The PPL Center in Allentown, PA is the site of the NCAA Midwest Regional

The NCAA begins this weekend starting Friday but Quinnipiac will not kick off until Saturday in the Midwest Regional in Allentown, Pennsylvania where they will take on upstart Arizona State in the first round in the second game of the day following the Minnesota Duluth and Bowling Green game. While Quinnipiac did not play Arizona State this season, they have the past three years so they are familiar with the system and style of play the Sun Devils will throw at them. To me this is an ideal opening round match up for Quinnipiac against a team lacking tournament experience that has not played in almost a month coming east. Here is the preview of the Midwest Regional.

#2 Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs

2018-2019 Record: 25-11-2 (14-9-1 NCHC)
How they got here: NCHC Tournament Champions
NCAA Tournament Appearances: (13) 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2011, 2009, 2004, 1993, 1985, 1984, 1983
NCAA Frozen Four Appearances: (6) 2018, 2017, 2011, 2004, 1985, 1984
NCAA National Championships: (2) 2018, 2011

3.18 Goals scored per game (11th nationally)
2.00 Goals allowed per game (Tied 6th nationally)
23% Power Play (10th nationally)
86% Penalty Kill (12th nationally)

Key Players:

Scott Perunovich, D (28 points), Justin Richards, F (28 points), Parker MacKay, F (27 points), Nick Swaney, F (24 points), Mikey Anderson, D (24 points), Peter Krieger, F (23 points), Noah Cates, F (22 points), Riley Tufte, F (18 points, 7 PPG), Dylan Samberg, D (17 points), Cole Koepke, F (17 points), Hunter Shepard, G (25-11-2, 1.87 GAA, .918 save percentage)

The defending NCAA National Champions come into Midwest Regional as the champions of the NCHC tournament beating regular season champion St. Cloud State 3-2 in double overtime. Head coach Scott Sandelin has built a powerhouse program at Duluth reaching four Frozen Fours including the past two and winning National Championships in 2018 and 2011. Over the past four seasons Duluth has a total of 97 wins which includes another 25 win season this year with 18 underclassmen on the 27 man roster. Sandelin is a coach that gets a ton out of his players despite only having seven draft picks on the roster. This is one of the most experienced tournament teams and they will be a tough out against anyone. They are considered the favorite to win this region.

Duluth doesn't have that one or two huge point getter on the roster as they possess more of a balanced attack from all parts of the roster. Riley Tufte is the lone first round pick on the roster and while the big forward had a bit of a down season with only 18 points compared to 29 a year ago, he still had seven power play goals and remains a big threat to score. Talented young players such as Justin Richards, Nick Swaney, Noah Cates and Cole Koepke have been big contributors to the success of the Bulldogs and will be in the future as well. Richards and Swaney who are both sophomores combined for 25 goals while senior Peter Mackay is the only lone other forward with double figures in goals (12). Duluth's power play is a very solid 23% and they can make you pay especially if teams get into penalty situations during the game.

Defensively this is one of the best teams in the nation giving up just two goals per game. Star defensemen Scott Perunovich had a solid second season despite his goal total dropping off from 11 to 3. He still put up 28 points and was a plus 8 on the season. He's joined by fellow talented sophomores Dylan Samberg and Mikey Anderson. Both of them are a plus 16 each and each can put up points as well with Samberg having 17 and Anderson 24. Both of them along with Perunovich are NHL draft picks. They are also very strong on the penalty kill at 86% for the season as Duluth takes pride in playing strong defense to win games.

On the back end they are led by Hunter Shepard who has won 50 games the past two seasons and is the current NCHC goaltender of the year and most outstanding player of the 2019 NCHC Frozen Faceoff. He's a good size goaltender who elevates his game in the big moments such as the National Title game a year ago and the NCHC Championship game against St. Cloud State. He has 14 shutouts in the past two years alone. His roughest stretch came in early March when he gave up five, four and four goals over three game stretch. Since then he has allowed only four goals in his last four games including a shutout against Denver in the NCHC semifinals.

#7 Quinnipiac Bobcats

2018-2019 Record: 25-9-2 (14-6-2 ECAC)
How they got here: At-Large
NCAA Tournament Appearances: (6) 2019, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2002
NCAA Frozen Four Appearances: (2) 2016, 2013

3.61 Goals scored per game (4th nationally)
1.92 Goals allowed per game (3rd nationally)
25.9% Power Play (4th nationally)
87.5% Penalty Kill (3rd nationally)

Key Players:
Odeen Tufto, F (42 points), Chase Priskie, D (39 points, 10 PPG), Craig Martin F (28 points), Ethan de Jong (25 points), Wyatt Bongiovanni (23 points), Brogan Rafferty, D (23 points), Alex Whelan, F (24 points), William Fallstrom, F (20 points), Karlis Cukste, D (20 points), Peter Diliberatore, D (19 points), Andrew Shortridge, G (17-6-2, 1.51 GAA & .941 save percentage)

Quinnipiac surprised a lot of people this season in winning a share of the ECAC regular season championship despite being picked 8th in the media poll and 7th in the coaches all while playing 9-10 freshman a night. It was a masterful coaching job Rand Pecknold who in my opinion should have been the ECAC coach of the year over Casey Jones. A year after the program suffered its first losing season since 1995-1996, Quinnipiac won 25 games to earn a berth into the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in program history. Outside of Chase Priskie, Craig Martin, Scott Davidson and Luke Shiplo who all have experienced the NCAA tournament, the majority of the roster are NCAA newbies. Coming off a disappointing sweep at home by the Brown Bears opened some eyes but with two weeks off you hope with the return of Chase Priskie to the lineup that things will be corrected.

The Bobcats have one of the best offenses in the country led by star sophomore center Odeen Tufto. He plays on a line with freshman Wyatt Bongiovanni and Ethan de Jong and that trio has combined for 90 points this season which is 25% of the teams entire offense. Upperclassmen Craig Martin and Alex Whelan have turned in very solid seasons with 28 and 24 points respectively while another freshman in second line center William Fallstrom has 20 points. The Bobcats generate a lot of offense from their defensive transition game but that has struggled a bit since the loss of top senior blue liner Brandon Fortunato due to a season ending injury. Chase Priskie has 39 points including 17 goals from the back end and does a ton of damage on the power play with ten power play goals. The current top four defensemen have 101 points combined so for Quinnipiac to be successful on offense its start with the defense pushing the puck up the ice quickly to generate scoring chances. Quinnipiac has a top five power play and that will get a boost with the return of Priskie. Playing one of the most penalized teams in Arizona State could bring out the best of one of the best units in the country.

Quinnipiac finished with the third best goals allowed total in the country at 1.92 and the defense has been a staple of some really good Quinnipiac teams in the past half decade. With captain Chase Priskie leading the way, the Bobcats have the ability to smother opponents into submission. The loss of Fortunato has not gone unnoticed as they were one of if not the top defensive pairing in the country. But the Bobcats have depth with upperclassmen like Brogan Rafferty, Karlis Cutske and Luke Shiplo to pick up the slack for Fortunato's loss. Throw in one of the top freshman defensemen in the country in Peter Diliberatore and the Bobcats should be fine on the back end.

Rounding out the balance of the Quinnipiac roster is stud goaltender Andrew Shortridge. Despite not getting the bulk of the starts early in the season, he seized the job from sophomore Keith Petruzzelli when the second year goaltender started to struggle. Shortridge didn't look back posting outstanding numbers for the Bobcats with a 1.51 goals against and a .941 save percentage to win ECAC goaltender of the year. He has come up with numerous highlight reel saves and his play could carry Quinnipiac to the Frozen Four in Buffalo.

#10 Arizona State Sun Devils

2018-2019 Record: 21-12-1 (Independent)
How they got here: At-Large
NCAA Tournament Appearances: (1) 2019

3.18 Goals scored per game (11th nationally)
2.47 Goals allowed per game (19th nationally)
15.2% Power Play (Tied 47th nationally)
86.4% Penalty Kill (7th nationally)

Key Players:

Johnny Walker, F (34 points), Brinson Pasichnuk, D (29 points), Anthony Croston, F (23 points), Tyler Busch, F (21 points), Brett Gruber, F (21 points), Demetrios Koumontzis, F (20 points), Dylan Hollman, F (19 points), Joshua Maniscalco, D (19 points), Jordan Sandhu, F (14 points), PJ Marrocco, F (14 points), Joey Daccord, G (21-12-1, 2.36 GAA, .926 save percentage)

Arizona State became the first team since Alaska-Anchorage in 1992 to reach the NCAA tournament as an independent. What the Sun Devils have done in a short time span cannot go unnoticed. To make the NCAA tournament in their 4th season is absolutely astonishing. This is a team with no conference, no real home rink to play in that has to travel around the country to play opponents mostly every weekend. To go from 8 wins a season ago and 21 and an NCAA tournament berth is one of the most surprising things you will ever see in college hockey especially given the limitations Arizona State has at this moment. Head coach Greg Powers deserves a ton of credit for elevating this program from club status to a tournament team in a short time frame. He was a risky hire to begin with as he never coached above the club level but so far it has paid off for the Sun Devils as they will head east for their first ever tournament appearance when they face Quinnipiac.

The Sun Devils are led on offense by Johnny Walker who had 23 goals and 34 points as a sophomore. He is one of three Arizona born players on the roster. However he missed the Minnesota series in early March with an injury but will play in the tournament. How effective he is will be anyone's guess but he accounts for 21% of the Sun Devils goals scored so he is that important to their offense including their power play in which he has 9 goals. Senior Dylan Hollman is tied for second on the team with 12 goals with defensemen Brinson Pasichnuk who is also the Sun Devils second leading scorer with 29 points. The offense is balanced with six other players scoring between 19-23 points respectively. The Sun Devils offense has struggled against some of the higher end tournament teams this season including Clarkson, Cornell, Harvard and Ohio State.

Defensively the Sun Devils are solid but out of the four teams in this bracket, I would take their defense last out of any of them. Brinson Pasichnuk has been a force on the back end with a plus 25 while providing a ton of offense while Joshua Maniscalco has 19 points and is a plus 12. However, the Sun Devils will be down a defensemen due to the suspension of Jacob Wilson who laid a vicious hit in the Minnesota series earning him a two game ban. That should hurt as he is one their more reliable defensive players. While they have a solid penalty kill at 86.4%, the Sun Devils are one of the most penalized teams in the country which could be a very bad thing against one of the top power play units in Quinnipiac.

Joey Daccord has been a rock for the Sun Devils in goal this season starting every game for them. He shaved off more than a goal per game from a season ago along with putting up an impressive .926 save percentage along with seven shutouts. However he was shaky in his last three games against AIC and Minnesota when he gave up four, five, and five goals respectively. With almost a month off, will Daccord have his timing down in live game situations? Daccord has played three games against Quinnipiac in his career including a 53 save performance in a victory two seasons ago in Hamden. A  year ago, Daccord was pulled after giving five goals in a loss to Quinnipiac. Daccord is going to need to have a huge game if the Sun Devils want to pull an upset and advance.

#15 Bowling Green Falcons

2018-2019 Record: 25-10-5 (16-8-4 WCHA)
How they got here: At-Large
NCAA Tournament Appearances: (10) 2019, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1984, 1982, 1979, 1978, 1977
NCAA Frozen Four Appearances: (2) 1984, 1978
NCAA National Championships: (1) 1984

3.30 Goals scored per game (8th nationally)
1.82 Goals allowed per game (2nd nationally)
20% Power Play (Tied 22nd nationally)
88.2% Penalty Kill (2nd nationally)

Key Players:

Max Johnson, F (43 points), Brandon Kruse, F (40 points), Connor Ford, F (33 points), Alec Rauhauser, D (26 points), Lukas Craggs, F (24 points), Stephen Baylis, F (22 points), Cameron Wright, F (20 points), John Schilling, F (18 points), Sam Craggs, F (15 points), Will Cullen, D (14 points), Tim Theorcharidis, D (11 points), Ryan Bednard, G (20-7-4, 1.78 GAA, .926 save percentage)

Bowling Green returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 29 years since the days of when Jerry York was behind the bench for the Falcons. In that time frame there were many lean years but 9th year head coach Chris Bergeron has changed the fortunes for this fan base with six consecutive winning seasons including five straight of 20 or more wins. He has taken the Falcons to two WCHA championship games but each time they fell in overtime. The 25 wins this season are the most since the 1995-1996 season which was the peak of the Buddy Powers era. Expect Chris Bergeron's name to be floated with the opening at Miami once the Bowling Green season comes to a close.

Bowling Green is a led by a trio of talented sophomores who have combined for 116 points this season. Max Johnson, Brandon Kruse and Connor Ford lead a dangerous attack for the Falcons. John and Ford are the goal scorers with 19 and 17 goals respectively while Kruse's 31 assists lead the team. This is a team that has good team speed and is aggressive with the puck. Junior Lukas Craggs has 13 goals as the only other player in double figures in goals. But this is a balanced attack with five more players that have between eight and nine goals on the season so they are getting contributions from all areas of the roster. While the power play is solid at 20% on the season, Johnson and Ford have scored ten power play goals each proving they can put the puck in the net at any chance on the man advantage. The Falcons have the offensive fire power to give a Minnesota Duluth a challenge in this game.

Defensively this is one of the best teams in the country. At 1.82 goals per game they are second in the country in defense. I know they play in the WCHA a league in which the bottom four teams aren't very good. But the Falcons defense showed up in non-conference games as well when they smothered both Ohio State and Western Michigan over four games. They also held Minnesota State to two goals in two regular season games this year. They are team that plays with in its system and does a good job in their own end. Alec Rauhauser is the Falcons best defenseman at a plus 20 and he also scored 26 points from the blue line this season. He's the only higher end point getter for the Falcons but Will Cullen, Tim Theorcharidis, Chris Pohlkamp and Connor McDonald are a combined plus 47 on the back end. Bowling Green's penalty kill is one of the top units in the country at 88.2% which is second nationally. However they are a team that takes a lot of penalty minutes just like Arizona State so they will need to be on their game against a very good Minnesota Duluth power play.

The Falcons are strong in goal with Ryan Bednard who had 20 wins this season to go with a 1.78 goals against and a .926 save percentage including three shutouts. A 2015 7th round pick by the Florida Panthers, Bednard brings excellent size in goal with his 6 foot 5 inch frame and each season has gotten better for Bowling Green. He was a rock down the stretch with five straight wins including four straight in the WCHA tournament prior to the overtime loss to Minnesota State. He could be a difference maker should Bowling Green pull an upset in this game.

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Matthew McGroarty commits to Quinnipiac

Matthew McGroarty

It's been a long three months but Quinnipiac is back in the commitment game. On the eve of the NCAA tournament selection show, the Bobcats picked up a 2003 born commitment in forward Matthew McGroarty, a native of Westport, Connecticut who is currently a sophomore playing for the Brunswick School in Connecticut.

McGroarty is a 5'10, 150 pound right shot forward who in 28 games played for the Brunswick School had 14 points on 6 goals and 8 assists. He also was a member of the Mid FairField Jr. Rangers U-16 team but his statistics with them are unknown at this time.

3.75⭐️Matthew McGroarty to Quinnipiac. No frills, power forward w/a game on the rise. He is powerful, direct & goes to the net with his stick on the ice. Hard on the forecheck & is tough to play against. High grades at Select 15s, WSI and U14 Nationals.

Another respected hockey scout told me that McGroarty is second line center with great skating ability and good hockey IQ who works his tail off. The scout added that he is a great get for Quinnipiac as he had some Hockey East teams on him. 

Currently I have McGroarty pegged to arrive in Hamden for the 2022-2023 which would take him through his junior and senior seasons at Brunswick along with one season of junior hockey prior to arrival.


EliteProspects Player Page
Brunswick Statistics

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Diliberatore & Bongiovanni named to ECAC All-League Rookie Team

Peter Diliberatore was name to the ECAC All Rookie team

Two Quinnipiac freshman were named to the ECAC All-League Rookie Team as announced by the league office on Monday. Peter Diliberatore and Wyatt Bongiovanni were honored for their outstanding freshman campaigns by being selected to the All-League Rookie Team.

Diliberatore, a native of Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada burst on the scene directly from the prep school ranks with 19 points in 36 games with a plus 23 rating the latter which led the Bobcats this season. The sixth round draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights, should be a staple on the Quinnipiac for the next couple of seasons in order to mature for the NHL. Diliberatore won one ECAC Rookie of the Week honors this season and was named as the ECAC Rookie of the Month for December.

Bongiovaani also was named to the ECAC All Rookie team

Bongiovanni, a native of Birmingham, Michigan finished 8th on the Bobcats in scoring with 23 points but was third on the team in goals with 14. He had six power play goals to go along with three game winning goals this season. He earned ECAC Rookie of the Week honors three times this season and was named the ECAC Rookie of the Month for February.

Quinnipiac with a record of 25-9-2 will return to action on either March 29 or 30 in the NCAA Tournament. The field will be announced on March 24 at 7 pm but Quinnipiac is currently a lock for the NCAA tournament and it is just a matter of whether they will be a #2 or #3 seed and in what region they will land in.

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 4-3 Game 2 loss to Brown

Brown became the first ECAC team to win a playoff series in Hamden

Quinnipiac was bounced out of the ECAC quarterfinals with a stunning 4-3 loss to Brown in Game 2 of on Saturday night at the People's United Bank Center. After jumping to a 2-0 lead behind two Alex Whelan goals, Brown scored four unanswered goals until Craig Martin scored an extra attacker goal with a little more than two minutes left in the game. But it was not enough as Brown now moves on to the ECAC semifinals for the first time since 2013 next weekend in Lake Placid while Quinnipiac awaits to find out where it will be seeded for the NCAA tournament next Sunday. Here are my thoughts and observations from Game 2.

- You have to give a ton of credit to Brendan Whittet and his team. Brown was prepared this series and never strayed away from their game plan. Even when they got down 2-0 in the first period,  they stayed the course and played within their game with relentless fore-check and excellent defensive play. They found another gear in the third period just like they did the previous night and frankly they wanted it more than Quinnipiac. Tonight they threw some hay-makers at Quinnipiac in which the Bobcats couldn't respond from. It took a late Craig Martin goal with an extra-attacker to bring some life back into the building and Quinnipiac just couldn't get that equalizer of a goal.

- Brown was great in this series in five on five play. Every one of the goals tonight was on five on five as they scored twice in the first two minutes of the third period when they did an excellent job of keeping the puck deep into the Quinnipiac zone as the the Bobcats struggled to clear the puck. This gave Brown a ton of life and momentum as they really pushed the pace against Quinnipiac. Brent Beaudoin put Brown ahead on a breakaway goal right after killing off a penalty while Tommy Marchin added what would be the game winning goal under two minutes later. It was another back breaking stretch of play for Quinnipiac in the third period.

- The leadership of Brown showed up tonight as co-captains Tommy Marchin (2 goals) and Max Gottlieb (1 goal) helped lead their team to the ECAC semifinals for the first time since 2013. There are no flashy players on Brown, just hard working battlers that don't ever give up. They will be a tough out against anyone when they reach Lake Placid as they are playing with confidence, nothing to lose and they are getting very good goal-tending from Gavin Nieto. Good luck to the Bears up in Lake Placid.

- Brown won three of four games against Quinnipiac and all three games it played at the People's United Center in Hamden. It was stunning to see

- It was really stunning to see how poorly Quinnipiac played in the third period tonight. I had previously thought that the second period on senior night against Clarkson was Quinnipiac's worst period of the season but this third period tops that as they were horrendous. Brown came out fast and aggressive and Quinnipiac couldn't get a clear out of its own zone. Before you looked the game was already tied at two due to Gottlieb and Marchin. The next two goals were the knock out punches from Beaudoin and Marchin again and it was just too much for Quinnipiac to overcome.

- There were tons of struggles across the board most notably the Lombardi-Burgart-Jermain line in Game 2. That line was a combined minus eight on the night and really had problems with the Brown fore-check. The Quinnipiac top line also was a no show on the night as Tufto, Bongiovanni and de Jong were held scoreless in back to back games. Brown put a ton of focus into shutting that line down this series and it worked to perfection as they weren't a factor in the series. They are going to need to be a factor if Quinnipiac has plans of getting past the first round of the NCAA tournament.

- Not having Chase Priskie was a killer in this series and just too much to overcome. He covers up a ton on this defense along with the leadership he brings and that was just flat out missing in this series. The ramifications from the Yale game came back to haunt Quinnipiac as they just didn't show a ton of discipline against a team that was going nowhere in the ECAC this season. This probably cost the Bobcats a trip to Lake Placid and they need to remember going forward that they can't do stuff like that without some sort of ramifications coming against them.

- Alex Whelan was Quinnipiac's best player on the ice tonight. He was relentless in hunting the puck and was rewarded with two goals and assisted on Martin's goal in third period. He also led the team with seven shots on goal. Craig Martin also played a solid game as well as that line of Whelan, Martin and Fallstrom was probably the best line of the night for Quinnipiac.

- Andrew Shortridge deserved better tonight. His defense in the third period was atrocious in front of him and couldn't clear pucks with any consistency. They also couldn't clear the traffic out in front of him in Game 2 as well. Shorty has saved this team many times this season and it would have been nice to see the defense play better in front of him and not look as bad as they did in the third period. 

- Not only was Quinnipiac knocked out of the ECAC playoffs but this was the first home series loss ever at the People's United Bank Center along with the first time that Quinnipiac didn't win one playoff series since entering the ECAC which was a league record. All good things must come to an end but its tough to see when the team was the #1 seed in the tournament. I for one did not see the Brown Bears being the team to end this streak but you have to give them all the credit in the world for what they accomplished this weekend.

- Not making it to Lake Placid will have ramifications for Quinnipiac. They no longer can get a #1 seed as that is now gone with the Brown sweep. They are currently holding on to a #2 seed but its possible they could even drop to a #3 by next weekend as well. They might have also played their way out of the Northeast possibly. Had they got to Lake Placid and possibly at least the championship game, I think they probably would have been a lock for either Providence or Manchester but now I could honestly see them out in Fargo depending on how things shake out next weekend. That is clearly on the table now but the hope is that this teams stays in the east whether it be Providence, Manchester or even Allentown.

- What's on tap? Quinnipiac must now wait until all the conference tournaments are completed and the seeds are released next Sunday. Quinnipiac won't see another game for two weeks but the good thing is they won't have to sweat out next week on the bubble and they will be getting captain Chase Priskie back for the NCAA tournament.

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 2-1 overtime loss to Brown

Quinnipiac lost to Brown 2-1 in a heart breaking overtime loss in Game 1

After a week off Quinnipiac found itself hosting the ECAC Quarterfinals against the Brown Bears as the top seed after winning a share of the Cleary Cup. Things to did not go to plan as Quinnipiac could not hold a late 1-0 lead with Brown's Brent Beaudoin tying the game up with 21.5 seconds left. Bruno capped its Game 1 upset victory with just 2:58 left in the third period when Jack Gessert found a loose puck off the end wall and slide it past Andrew Shortridge for the game winner. Karlis Cukste scored the only goal for Quinnipiac in the loss. Here are my thought's and observations from Quinnipiac's Game 1 loss against Brown.

- This was the game Brown had to have in order to have a chance to win this series. With Quinnipiac depleted on the back end due to the two game suspension of captain Chase Priskie and the one game suspension of Luke Shiplo along with the season ending loss to Brandon Fortunato, Quinnipiac showed its vulnerability on defense with its inability to move the puck well tonight. Give the Brown Bears a ton of credit. These are pesky team without stars that play extremely hard and don't give up. Brown killing that five minute major penalty in the first period was a huge momentum boost even though they fell behind in the game. Had Quinnipiac scored a goal or two there at that juncture in the game it would have hard pressed to see Brown come back and win it with the limited scoring they have.

- I thought the Bears were the better team in this game tonight. Brown did an excellent job once again on the fore-check against Quinnipiac not allowing them to carry the puck into the zone with ease. They layered their defense well along with forcing Quinnipiac to the half wall for much of the game. Brown possessed the puck very well in this game and they seemed to get stronger as the game went on out-shooting Quinnipiac 26-12 in the third period and in overtime along with 40-26 for the game. It was an impressive performance from a confident team who will once again be difficult to beat on Saturday night.

- Quinnipiac is such a different team without Chase Priskie on defense. One thing it proved to me after this game is that Chase Priskie is the player of the year in the ECAC even if he wasn't in the top three due to his kicking incident. He is a game changer for Quinnipiac when he is on the ice and the lack of offense for Quinnipiac along with the abysmal power play tonight proved that. Here is one that ticks me off. I think it was pretty petty for the coaches of the ECAC to not make him a finalist over Ryan Kuffner who played on a terrible Princeton team especially when they named him as a finalist for best defensive defenseman. It makes no sense to hold something against him for one award while nominating him for another. Either he gets nominated for both or none at all. You can't have it both ways.

- Both teams went 0 for 4 on the power play but Quinnipiac is a top five team in that category and couldn't afford to struggle on the man advantage tonight especially without Priskie. They had too much cycling and passing and not enough shots on goal. Shoot the puck and get traffic in front of the net and usually good things happen. That five minute power play was painful to watch as they literally did nothing in the first three minutes of that man advantage.

- It will be interesting to see how much this Quinnipiac team has left in the tank for Saturday. They are getting Luke Shiplo back which will help on the defensive end, but they need to be able to generate more offense especially against a good Brown fore-check and a surging Gavin Nieto. Quinnipiac has also not been a great Saturday team this season with four of the teams eight losses coming at home on a Saturday. With their backs against the wall and another Saturday game staring them in the eyes how will these young players respond?

- Odeen Tufto is going to have nightmare's tonight when he sleeps. His overtime back hand of a shot on an open net went wide. This would have given Quinnipiac the ability to escape up in the series 1-0 especially down shorthanded on defense. Now due to that miss they find themselves on the brink of elimination in the ECAC tournament.

- Speaking of Tufto, I thought his line was not very good tonight. Without Chase Priskie it seems like they were keyed on much more by the Brown Bears and they didn't step up in the captain's absence. The line combined for just six shots along with being a minus four on the night. That is going to need to change if they want to be able to force a Game 3 on Sunday. This line combined for 90 points this season and 26% of the Bobcats offense. They can't be held scoreless in games and expect this team to always win.

- Andrew Shortridge was the best player on the ice for Quinnipiac. He made a career high 38 saves and did everything he could to keep the Bobcats in this game. He made 4-5 highlight reel saves again in which Brown could have easily scored. It was tough seeing him let that goal in with 21 seconds left but that happens in hockey sometimes as it is the price you pay for only having a one goal lead.

- Forward TJ Friedmann was used on defense tonight in lieu of the suspensions of Priskie and Shiplo. He did a solid job for someone who has played at forward all season. This was the out of the box coaching move that I suspected Rand Pecknold would do to try to cover up for his defensive losses. Twenty one seconds more and it would have worked to perfection but that is hockey sometimes.

- Quinnipiac has never lost a home playoff series at the People's United Bank Center since it open in 2007. That includes all series in the first round and quarterfinal series and now that streak is in jeopardy against Brown as they head into this game without their captain and best player in Chase Priskie. If they can force a Game 3 on Sunday then I love Quinnipiac chances to move on with the captain returning to the lineup but they have to be able to take care of business tomorrow night.

- What's on tap? It's win or go home for a few weeks until the NCAA tournament pairings are announced. A win forces a Game 3 on Sunday with a trip to Lake Placid on the line while a loss moves Brown to the ECAC final four for the first time since 2013.

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

ECAC Quarterfinal preview: Quinnipiac vs. Brown

Quinnipiac is back on top of the ECAC standings after a 9th place finish a season ago. Picked to finish 8th, Quinnipiac played about expectations to win its fourth Cleary Cup in the last seven seasons sharing the cup with rival Cornell. For the first time since the 2015-2016 season, Quinnipiac spent the first week of the ECAC playoffs on a bye so the team should be healthy and ready to go for Game 1 on Friday night but the Bobcats will be without captain Chase Priskie for two games and Luke Shiplo for one game as both are suspended. Brown comes in fresh off a sweep of defending ECAC tournament champion Princeton.

Broadcast Information: ESPN +

Tale of the Tape:

#1 Quinnipiac Bobcats (#5 USCHO/#5 USA Today) 25-7-2 (14-6-2 ECAC)
3.71 Goals scored per game (4th nationally)
1.85 Goals allowed per game (3rd nationally)
27% Power Play (3rd nationally)
86.8% Penalty Kill (4th nationally)
Cleary Cup Championships: (4) 2019, 2016, 2015, 2013
Whitelaw Cup Championships: (1) 2016
NCAA Tournament Appearances: (5) 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2002
NCAA Frozen Four Appearances: (2) 2016, 2013

#8 Brown Bears 13-13-5 (8-9-5 ECAC)
2.68 Goals scored per game (Tied 34th nationally)
2.81 Goals allowed per game (33rd nationally)
13.7% Power Play (55th nationally)
81.9% Penalty Kill (27th nationally)
Cleary Cup Championships: (0)
Whitelaw Cup Championships: (0)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: (4) 1993, 1976, 1965, 1951
NCAA Frozen Four Appearances: (3) 1976, 1965, 1951

Key Players:

QuinnipiacOdeen Tufto, F (42 points), Chase Priskie, D (39 points, 10 PPG), Craig Martin F (26 points), Ethan de Jong (25 points), Wyatt Bongiovanni (23 points), Brogan Rafferty, D (22 points), Alex Whelan, F (21 points), William Fallstrom, F (19 points), Karlis Cukste, D (19 points), Peter Diliberatore, D (17 points), Andrew Shortridge, G (1.39 GAA & .944 save percentage, 4 shutouts)

Brown: Tommy Marchin, F (24 points), Tristan Crozier, F (18 points), Zach Giuttari, D (18 points), Chris Berger, F (17 points), Brent Beaudoin, F (17 points), Alex Brink, F (14 points), Max Gottlieb, D (14 points), Colin Burston, F (12 points), Justin Jallen, F (12 points), Gavin Nieto, G (2.31 GAA, .914 save percentage, 2 shutouts)

Playoff History:

2017 ECAC First Round - Quinnipiac won series 2-0 at People's United Bank Center
2013 ECAC Semifinals - Brown won 4-0 at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City
2012 ECAC First Round - Quinnipiac won series 2-1 at People's United Bank Center
2011 ECAC First Round - Quinnipiac won series 2-0 at People's United Bank Center
2008 ECAC First Round - Quinnipiac won series 2-0 at People's United Bank Center

The Skinny:

This is a match-up that features two teams that have both exceeded pre-season expectations. Quinnipiac and Brown were both picked 8th and 11th by the ECAC media respectively. The Bobcats had a better season than anyone expected, finishing first and having one of the best producing freshman classes in the country which should lay the foundation for future great teams. Brown despite finishing 8th really came on in the second half of the season with good defense and solid goal-tending. Brendan Whittet's team is filled with overachievers and hard working players as this is a team that lacks star players. Quinnipiac on the other hand has many players up for ECAC and national awards.

Statistically, Quinnipiac has been one of the best teams in the country which helped pave the way for a 25 win season and an eventual berth into the NCAA tournament. This is a team that is in the top five nationally in the big four categories of goals for, goals allowed, power play and penalty kill. The team clearly has shown it is the real deal. They have a star goaltender in Andrew Shortridge, a star forward in Odeen Tufto and a star defenseman in Chase Priskie. The latter however is suspended for the first two games of this series stemming from a kicking incident against Yale. His loss could be a huge loss in the first two games as this is a Brown team that has shown it can beat Quinnipiac this season especially in Hamden. Overall this is an excellent Quinnipiac team with a lot of depth on the roster. However that defensive depth will be tested this weekend with many young players needing to step up in Peter Diliberatore, Zach Metsa, Cam Boudreau and also Marcus Chorney who should see some action. I also wouldn't be shocked to see Rand Pecknold think outside the box in filling for these defensive losses so keep that in mind. But if Quinnipiac can play to their identity and dictate the game they should be able to win this series.

Brown isn't a flashy team but they work well as a unit and play to the best of their abilities and play hard as a team. Sometimes those traits can make up for the lack of skill as we saw when they outworked Quinnipiac to a 4-1 victory in Hamden back in February. Brown has the ability to play a strong fore-checking game along with puck possession which has them become a better team this season. They are going to have to give that type of effort if they want to upset Quinnipiac. Captain Tommy Marchin leads the way for the Bears with 9 goals and 24 points. He has gotten some help from underclassmen Tristan Crozier, Chris Berger, Colin Burston and Justin Jallen that have really helped elevate Brown into a very competitive hockey team. Throw in upperclassmen Zach Giuttari, Brent Beaudoin, Alex Brink and Max Gottlieb, the Bears have a nice mix of youth and veterans which have helped get them to this point. Statistically they are a middle of the road team in goals for, goals allowed and penalty kill. On the power play is where they really struggle at just 13.7%. They really need to stay in a five on five game and use their strong fore-check in order to create turnovers into scoring opportunities. Gavin Nieto returns as the starter in net back from injury so he will give Quinnipiac a different look at the Bobcats only faced Luke Kania in their previous two meetings.

The Prediction:

With the fact that Brown has already proven that they can win on Quinnipiac's home ice along with the suspensions of Chase Priskie and Luke Shiplo this series should be tougher than most expect. Brown has played very well in the second half of the season minus a late season swoon which saw them lose three of their four regular season games. They took care of Princeton in two games needing triple overtime in game two to seal the series win. Brown is a hard working over achieving team but they are now up against a pretty deep Quinnipiac team that won 25 games and is bound for the NCAA tournament. Even with the losses of two defensive players, Quinnipiac should have enough in the arsenal to move on to Lake Placid even if they are pushed in this series.

Qunnipiac in 3

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Thoughts and observations on Quinnipiac's Cleary Cup clinching win over Yale

Quinnipiac won a share of the Cleary Cup with a 4-1 win over Yale

It was a wild night in the ECAC but when the musical chairs ended Quinnipiac found themselves at the top and as co-champions with Cornell. Two goals by Nick Jermain along with goals by Ethan de Jong and TJ Friedmann paced the offense as Quinnipiac beat their Whitney Avenue rivals 4-1 on Saturday night at Ingalls Rink. Here are my thoughts and observations from this wild affair between Quinnipiac and Yale.

- Quinnipiac won its fourth ECAC regular season title in the last seven years with a convincing 4-1 win over Yale. They however shared the title with the Cornell Big Red who tied Clarkson 2-2 after a late goal by the Golden Knights prevented Cornell from winning the title outright. At 25-7-2 Quinnipiac finishes with the 5th most win in program history after being picked to finish 8th in the preseason polls. What a season this has been but there is still more work to be done.

- The Cleary Cup came at a price though as both Chase Priskie and Luke Shiplo got ejected from the and got disqualification penalties which come with automatic one game suspensions in the ECAC playoffs. Both will miss the first game of the quarterfinals while Chase Priskie could get even more for his kick with his skate on the Yale player. It was a dangerous play and so uncharacteristic of the Quinnipiac captain as I have never seen him lose his cool like that before. You have to hope that with his history of not getting into trouble this will just be a single game. Without Priskie in that first series could be a problem for Quinnipiac depending on the opponent but we will not know that until next weekend.

- This game was completely out of control. Quinnipiac and Yale combined for 91 penalty minutes in this game. I have never seen that type of play in a Quinnipiac-Yale game get so chippy. This game reminded me of some of those Quinnipiac-Cornell games of the past where chippy play and roughing and extra curricular stuff was the norm. There is no excuse for what Chase Priskie did. None. But lets not let Yale off the hook here. They initiated a lot of this stuff because of their lack of talent on the ice knowing they couldn't beat Quinnipiac on the scoreboard. That's a fact and I am surprised a Keith Allain team stooped to that level tonight. I hope that RPI sweeps them out at Ingalls next weekend.

- While this doesn't ever remove the sting of losing the National Championship in Pittsburgh to Yale, I take solace in the fact that they won a share of the Cleary Cup at Ingalls Rink in front of the Bulldogs fans. If there is any place I would want to win a league championship outside of the People's United Bank Center it would be at Yale.

- Quinnipiac played the first ten minutes of this game on fire controlling the play against Yale and having a strong compete level in this game. That carried over to the second period when they took further control and put this game out of reach extending the lead to 4-0. Quinnipiac seems to always get up for these games while Yale tends not to for whatever reason except one game that I will not mention again.

- It was back to back multi point games for Nick Jermain who has fought off injuries this season. Jermain has five points in his last four games including four goals. Him getting hot at the right time could be a big boost to the Bobcats offense especially with him playing on the fourth line with Lombardi and Burgart. This is also the second multi point game against Yale for him this season and also the second time that he has had a two goal game at Ingalls Rink as he had one in his freshman season back in 2016-2017.

- TJ Friedmann also had another goal and that is back to back games for him with a goal. Its good to see him rewarded for his hard work playing on that physical third line with Joe O'Connor and Scott Davidson. His goal along with de Jong plus three other freshman with points gave the freshman class five of the ten points scored tonight. What an impressive class this has been which will help lead this program hopefully to even greater heights in the next few years.

- Andrew Shortridge was strong again for Quinnipiac tonight as he made 24 saves to move his record to 17-4-2 with four shutouts. His 1.44 goals against and .944 save percentage lead the nation. He's been more than what I believe anyone expected this year and has carried Quinnipiac at times from in between the pipes. In two weeks, he will need to do so again especially with Chase Priskie and Luke Shiplo getting automatic one game suspensions.

- No one has a bigger task than the Quinnipiac freshman defenseman do in two weeks. With Chase Priskie and Luke Shiplo suspended at least a game and Brandon Fortunato done for the season, the Bobcats depth on the blue line will be tested. That means Peter Diliberatore, Zach Metsa and Cam Boudreau will need to play big roles in the first series for Quinnipiac with possibly Marcus Chorney stepping in as the 7th defenseman. Whoever Quinnipiac plays it will be a big test due to the losses of Priskie and Shiplo.

- What Rand Pecknold and the Quinnipiac coaching staff has done this season is beyond remarkable. Picked to finish 8th by the media and 7th by the coaches, Quinnipiac won a share of the Cleary Cup with this team playing at least nine to ten freshman a night. Tonight against Yale they had ten freshman in the lineup including three on the blue line alone. This just shows what type of players Quinnipiac brings in alone with the face that Rand and his coaching staff can coach up to champions sooner than anyone expected. Coach Pecknold should be a lock to win the ECAC coach of the year in my opinion and should be a candidate for the Spencer Penrose Award, though I don't believe he will win it.

- What's on tap? A nice week off to watch the first round of the ECAC playoffs commence. Quinnipiac can play one of five teams in Brown, Princeton, Colgate, RPI or St. Lawrence. Most likely thought they will get the winner of the Brown-Princeton series as I don't think Colgate, RPI or St. Lawrence pull upsets though RPI probably has the best chance to be that team that does pull the upset.

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Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's 4-1 win over Brown

Quinnipiac clinched a first round bye with a win over Brown

Quinnipiac returned the favor against Brown and beat them 4-1 which was the same score they beat the Bobcats a few weeks ago in Hamden by. It was a solid rebound performance after a brutal second period six days ago against Clarkson led to a 5-3 loss in the regular season home finale on senior night. Once against Quinnipiac responded with a strong Friday night effort like they have all season long. Here are my thoughts and observations from the win over Brown.

- Quinnipiac wrapped up a first round bye in the ECAC playoffs for the first time since the 2015-2016 after a 4-1 win over Brown Friday night in Providence. The 24th win of the season ties the 2013-2014 Bobcats for the fifth most wins in a season in school history. After two seasons away from the NCAA tournament, Quinnipiac will be there again this season and the only thing that remains is if they will get to the tournament as an at-large team or as the ECAC tournament champion.

- A strong second half of the first period was the difference for Quinnipiac as they scored three goals en route to jumping on the Bears. Alex Whelan (11), TJ Friedmann (2) and Odeen Tufto (15) put the Bobcats on the scoreboard in the opening period as the team would never look back against Brown. It wasn't the greatest effort as Quinnipiac was sloppy a bit in the second and third periods and will need to be better going forward in the playoffs if it wants to get to Lake Placid. This time of year the need for a 60 minute effort each night is crucial.

- It took 33 games in the regular season but Quinnipiac got its first short-handed goal of the season courtesy of Alex Whelan. The junior raced into the offensive for a loose puck and ended up getting a quick breakaway before putting one past Luke Kania. Whelan has set a career high for points in a season with 21 a year after putting up 19 as a sophomore. 

- Speaking of Luke Kania he was really good again tonight for Brown with 31 saves and he really keep the score within reach with many key saves as Quinnipiac could have had at least 4-5 goals or more tonight. He has really been a key cog of why Brown has been very good in the second half of the season. 

- Andrew Shortridge was denied a shutout but was still very good in net but really was not tested in this game as he made only 16 saves. Give credit to the Bobcats defense as they held Brown to only 10 shots in the first two periods combined including just two in the second period. Add in the fact that they also blocked 13 shots and it was a good all around effort on the defensive end in order to let Shortridge see the puck well.

- Odeen Tufto surpassed his freshman season point total in five less games as he now has 42 points. With one game in the regular season left plus a potential of up to four to five ECAC tournament games and up to four NCAA tournament games, we could see him reach well over 50 points this season. Tufto has become a much more dangerous player as he has shown more ability to score goals this season than he did a year ago. 

- What a pretty goal that was by TJ Friedmann sniping one bar down in the slot. His celebration was even just as good as well. He has been part of a big contributing freshman class that has 112 of Quinnipiac's 333 points this season which is 33% of their offense. 

- It's pretty amazing that as we close the regular season tomorrow night that not one Quinnipiac player is a minus this season. You have to go back to the 2015-2016 season when every player but Craig Martin was a plus player for the season. 

- The final day of the ECAC regular season should be crazy with Cornell, Quinnipiac, Harvard and Clarkson separated by just two points. In order for Quinnipiac to win the Cleary Cup outright they would need to beat Yale tomorrow night coupled with Clarkson beating Cornell and Union beating Harvard. I think the latter might be pushing it with the way Union has struggled this season. It wouldn't shock me if the first two things happened but Harvard won thus splitting the Cleary Cup with the Crimson. Even teams in spots 5-11 are jockeying for positioning though teams 5-8 are locked into home ice already. The only team set in stone is St. Lawrence at 12th. 

- In order for Quinnipiac to win the Cleary Cup they will need to have an improved effort on Saturday as that has been a weakness for them this season as the record has not been good. Expect Yale to be energized in order to spoil Quinnipiac from possibly winning or getting a share of the ECAC regular season title.

- My final thought of the night is two words. Beat Yale!

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Friday, March 1, 2019

Weekend Preview: Brown/Yale

Quinnipiac finishes on the road and will need help to win the Cleary Cup

Brown Head Coach: 
Brendan Whittet (10th year) 95-179-44

2018-2019 Brown record: 11-11-5 (8-7-5 ECAC)

All-time vs. Brown: Quinnipiac leads 23-8-6

Brown Key Players: Tommy Marchin (F), Tristan Crozier (F), Chris Berger (F), Joachim Weberg (F), Brent Beaudoin (F), Zach Giuttari (D), Max Gottlieb (D), Luke Kania (G)

Perhaps the most surprising season in the ECAC this year is the Brown Bears. Picked to finish 12th by the coaches and 11th in the media poll, Brendan Whittet's team has surpassed expectations and has been a challenge to play against for many teams in the ECAC. Come playoff time they could be a sleeper pick to reach Lake Placid. Since the calendar has turned to 2019, Brown is 8-4-2 and playing with confidence that we have no seen in a half decade when they made a surprise run to the ECAC finals in 2013.

While Brown doesn't have an intimidating offense as they average only 2.67 goals per game they do a lot of good things well to generate offense most notably on the fore-check as well saw the last time these two teams played. Tommy Marchin leads all scorers with 21 points while freshman Tristan Crozier has given them 17 points. The last time Quinnipiac played Brown the Bears had the worst power play in the country. That isn't the case anymore as they jumped all the way to 53rd in the country with some recent good play on the special teams.

Brown has improved defensively as well since the last time these teams have played as they are giving up 2.70 goals per game now as opposed to 2.86 a few weeks ago. They have a solid defensive structure which has enabled them to play winning hockey in 2019 so far.  Zach Giuttari and Max Gottlieb are the two leaders on the back end with each of them having 15 and 13 points respectively.  Brown's penalty kill has been solid at 82.3%. Brown will need to do similar things on defense like they did the last time against Quinnipiac when they won play in the neutral zone with an aggressive fore-check along with clogging up passing lanes.

Luke Kania has seen the last seven starts with the injury to Gavin Nieto and has led the Bears to a 3-2-2 record in that time frame. His 47 save performance at Quinnipiac and his shutout last weekend against Dartmouth are his most impressive performances of the season. Expect Brendan Whittet to ride the hot hand in Luke Kania even if Gavin Nieto is healthy.

Yale Head Coach: Keith Allain (13th season) 233-155-42

2018-2019 Yale record: 13-11-3 (11-8-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. Yale : Quinnipiac leads series 21-7-5

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)

Heading into the final weekend of the year you expect a team like Yale to be playing its best hockey. That is not the case as this is a team that has lost four of its last six games and is only 6-7-1 since the calendar turned to 2019. In the four losses, Yale has only scored one goal. Not a one goal per game. One goal in total. They were shutout against Quinnipiac, Dartmouth and most recently Harvard. Yale seems to be trending in the wrong direction especially with the playoffs set to begin in one week.

The Bulldogs offense has really struggled in the last few weeks. They are down to 37th in the country in offense at 2.63 goals per game which is tied with Nebraska Omaha. They are essentially Joe Snively and everyone else and really that is a fact. The key to beating Yale is not to let Snively beat you as no one else seems like they can put the puck into the net consistently for the Bulldogs. Robbie DeMontis and Kevin O'Neil have 18 and 15 points respectively but that still trails the 30 points of Snively by a wide margin. The Yale power play is also not that great this season converting on just 16.5% (16-of-97) good for 38th in the country.

Defensively Yale has been solid giving up 2.67 goals per game which is 25th in the country. With some of the talent back in there in Phil Kemp, Jack St. Ivany, Chandler Lindstrand and Graham Lillibridge. Lillibridge has probably played below expectations compared to the strong season he put up in the USHL last year with the Chicago Steel.  I figured this would be a strength of the Bulldogs but it is more closer to the middle of the pack than the top. On the penalty kill the Bulldogs are average at 81.4% which is good for 28th in the country. Quinnipiac did a nice job the last time out attacking that defense and making the Bulldogs play from behind rather than in front.

Keith Allain continues to split his goaltenders which is shocking at this point in the season and possibly the reason the team can't get into a rhythm on top of scoring issues. Corbin Kaczperski plays on Friday while Sam Tucker plays on Saturdays. With this game at Ingalls on a Saturday the expectation is that Quinnipiac will see Sam Tucker to conclude the regular season. Tucker has the better cumulative stats with goals against and save percentage but has a losing record compared to Kaczperski. It's literally been since the 2015-2016 season when Yale had Alex Lyon manning the pipes that the Bulldogs had one consistent starter in net. You can probably point to this as one of the reasons that Yale has not made the NCAA tournament since then either.

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