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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