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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