Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thoughts and observations from Quinnipiac's weekend sweep of Union & RPI

Quinnipiac wore their camo jersey's to honor those in the military
Quinnipiac returned to the win column this weekend with a pair of victories as they swept Union and RPI to win their first two ECAC games of the season. It was the second time Quinnipiac swept a weekend series with opening weekend against AIC being the first. The wins move the Bobcats to 6-4-1 (2-1-1 ECAC) as they head to Cornell and Colgate next weekend. Here are my thoughts and observations from the weekend slate of games.

- It was really surprising to see Quinnipiac struggle with a bad Union team on Friday. They got down early by a goal and were really sluggish in the first period.  Give Union some credit for coming out more prepared than Quinnipiac despite the talent limitations with that team. The second and third periods were better but they could only get the two goals past Darion Hanson which was enough for the win. They can get away with scoring two probably against teams like Union but against most teams scoring two won't cut it. They need more guys to produce offense from this roster.

- Saturday night featured a much improved RPI team in Dave Smith's third season at the helm. The Engineers got on the board fast when Will Reilly beat Keith Petruzzelli glove side. This was the 5th consecutive game for Quinnipiac that they gave up the first goal, a trend that really can't continue to happen. After that RPI goal it was all Quinnipiac the rest of the first period as they scored three unanswered goals. The last two periods were uneventful and pretty sluggish from Quinnipiac and they got very lucky in the third period when RPI had a 5 on 3 and had a goal waved off. It was a little surprising to see RPI goaltender Owen Savory pulled after one period and it could be a wake up call for him. Expect RPI to be much better in the second half as they contend for a top four spot in the ECAC.

- Quinnipiac had better energy this weekend along with better puck possession and passing. When the Bobcats are doing those things well they are a tough team to beat but they clearly will need to be better than what they did weekend as they will face better teams down the road.

- Karlis Cukste had an outstanding weekend on the blue line. He was Quinnipiac's best player on Friday night and was really good again Saturday against RPI. Cukste was stout in the defensive end with six blocked shots on the weekend but his offensive game was impressive as well. He a power play goal against Union and followed that up assisting on all three goals against RPI for a four point weekend. Quinnipiac needs Cukste to be at his best every game because of the youth and inexperience they have on the blue line this year. It showed this weekend.

- It took 11 games but Odeen Tufto finally got his first goal of the season. Hopefully with this first one of the way, he will go on the tear scoring now for Quinnipiac as they have some really tough games coming up with Cornell, Colgate and Massachusetts here in November. The more offense out of Tufto the better this team will be.

- Two more Bobcats also got their first goals of the season. Alex Whelan and William Fallstrom scored just 2:16 apart to give Quinnipiac a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Whelan who is coming off an injury had a two point night and three in total for the weekend as he was paired with Odeen Tufto and Wyatt Bongiovanni. Fallstrom had the eventual game winning goal and had a two point weekend for the Bobcats. Both of these players had over 20 points a season ago and were expected to have bigger production this season. Hopefully this weekend will lead to a breakout from them.

Quinnipiac swept the weekend with a 3-1 win over RPI

- Keith Petruzzelli who has been up and down of late bounced back with a strong weekend saving 40 of 42 shots in two victories. After an 0-3-1 stretch it was good to see Petruzzelli play strong in between the pipes for Quinnipiac. This was a weekend that he needed to have and he delivered. Stick tap for the junior goaltender. Petruzzelli will now go back to Lynah Rink where he suffered one of his worst games back in the 2018 ECAC Quarterfinals.

- The Quinnipiac defense looked much better this weekend outside of the first period against Union on Friday. Karlis Cukste showed he was the lead back there but they started to show they can play as a cohesive unit on the blue line. I expect the defense to get better as the season goes along as these young players get more comfortable and more experienced.

- The power play is still a work in progress after going 1 for 7 on the weekend but it was the penalty kill that showed to be very good. They killed off seven opposing power plays on the weekend including a key 5 on 3 against RPI in which they got some referee's luck with a goal waved off. The penalty kill is starting to look more like typical Quinnipiac teams of the past and that is a positive development.

- Next weekend will be the toughest road venue Quinnipiac will face this season. The Bobcats head to Lynah Rink to face the Cornell Big Red who are off to a 6-0 start and one of only two undefeated teams remaining in the country with the other being Harvard. The Big Red are loaded and a potential team that can reach the Frozen Four this year. They have scoring, a very good defense and the best goaltender in the league in Matthew Galajda who is off to another good start this season.

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