|Rand Pecknold and his Quinnipiac Bobcats struggled this past weekend in the valley of the sun.|
Quinnipiac made it longest road trip of the season to the valley of sun this past weekend but they didn't make it count. The Bobcats were swept by the Sun Devils by scores of 5-3 and 4-1 to fall to 4-3 on the season with ECAC play starting next weekend. There was a lot of ugly play over the weekend that needs to be corrected within the next few weeks. Here are my thoughts and observations from this past weekend against Arizona State.
- There was clearly revenge on the mind of the Sun Devils and you could see it in their play. For them it was not just another game and they had a statement weekend. They punched Quinnipiac in the mouth and the Bobcats couldn't get off the mat. Oceanside Ice Arena is a huge home ice advantage for Arizona State due to how small it is and how fans are on top of the action. Maybe Quinnipiac just wasn't used to playing in such a small venue and that could have affected the way they played.
- You hope that this weekend will be a wake up call for Quinnipiac as they need to bring a sixty minute effort each and every night. The slow starts really need to stop as its really tough for Quinnipiac to play from behind as they don't really have a ton of snipers up front that can take over a game and score goals when the team is trailing. Its just not the way the team is built.
- I think there needs to be a level of concern with goaltender Keith Petruzzelli. While the defense in front of him hasn't been great, he gave up seven goals in 100 minutes of action and was pulled on Friday night after the end of the second period. Saturday night he gave up two soft goals that really changed the tone of the game as Quinnipiac was still in it at the time. He has been way too inconsistent this year season and has a sub .900 save percentage on the season. With a young an inconsistent defense they need the goaltender to pick the team up and he just hasn't done that this year. While he was stellar last weekend against Vermont, he was anything but this past weekend. I am really wondering when we might see freshman Evan Fear get a start because the inconsistent play in goal could really affect the Bobcats season.
- Its clear that Quinnipiac misses senior assistant captain Alex Whelan. He sets a tone up front with his hard nose play and his ability to fore-check and provide scoring chances. Him being out of the lineup has definitely been noticed especially on special teams as well. I don't think he will be ready for the ECAC opener next weekend but you have to hope he will be ready the following week because they really need him in this lineup.
- The power play which was so good last year in now a major problem. They went 1 for 11 on the weekend against the Sun Devils but that one power play goal was late in the game on Friday night when Quinnipiac had an extra attacker on as well. Saturday they were just plain bad. Three of the six chances ended with Quinnipiac taking two foolish penalties with the other ending with a shorthanded goal for Arizona State. Special teams has always been a staple of successful Quinnipiac teams so if they can't get it going this team might struggle at times this season.
- One thing that is stunning is that while Odeen Tufto is the teams leading point man, I didn't think he would be held scoreless seven games into the season. Tufto has nine assists on the team in seven games and took a large step to being a better scorer last season after only nine goals his freshman season. Tufto has a point in every game this season except one but Quinnipiac really needs one of its best players to put the puck in the back of the net.
- Despite winning the face-off battle both nights, I thought Quinnipiac had a tough time with possession in the Arizona State zone and possession throughout the ice. Arizona State did a really good job with its fore-check against Quinnipiac which caused turnovers leading to goals. Arizona State played a heavy game and its something that Quinnipiac will need to learn from as the Sun Devils will not be the only team that the Bobcats will play that brings a heavy game.
- You have to think this will be a rough week of practice for the Quinnipiac players especially with ECAC play opening up and how they played this weekend out at Arizona State. They have a ton of things that need correcting and they need to get the power play in sync. This weekend they will face a Dartmouth that returns a lot of talent followed by a Harvard team with nine NHL draft picks on its roster with one of the best defenses in the ECAC. Quinnipiac will need to bring a sixty minute effort again both of these teams who are expected to be in the upper half of the ECAC this season.
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