Thursday, November 21, 2019

Weekend Preview: Cornell/Colgate

Keith Petruzzelli, the reining ECAC goaltender of week has a big test against Cornell

Cornell Head Coach: Mike Schaefer (25th Season)

2019-2020 Cornell record: 6-0 (4-0 ECAC)

All-time vs. Cornell: Cornell leads 22-17-4

Cornell Key Players: Morgan Barron (F), Cam Donaldson (F), Max Andreev (F), Michael Regush (F), Brendan Locke (F), Yanni Kaldis (D), Sam Malinski (D), Alex Green (D), Matthew Galajda (G)

Quinnipiac has what likely will be their biggest test of the season when they travel to Lynah Rink to face #2 Cornell who are also #1 in the pairwise rankings. The preseason ECAC pick to win the league, the Big Red are also one of the teams that has a real chance to get to Detroit for the Frozen Four. This has a chance to be the best Cornell team since 2003 when they reached the Frozen Four. They are that talented as they are a team that can score, play defense and have a top goaltender. Factor in a home ice advantage and this will surely be a difficult match-up on paper for Quinnipiac.

The Big Red have the second best offense in the county at 4.83 goals per game behind the Harvard Crimson. Led by junior Morgan Barron who is off to a blazing start with 12 points in six games, Cornell features seven players averaging more than a point per game. Brendan Locke and Max Andreev each have seven points on two goals and five assists. Cam Donaldson and Michael Regush are off to good starts as well with six and five points respectively. Prized freshman commit Matt Stienburg a third round pick of the Colorado Avalanche has yet to get going with only one assist in six games. Cornell has by far the best power play in the country with a deadly 42.3% conversion rate. It is imperative that Quinnipiac stays disciplined and out of the penalty box. 

The Cornell defense is also one of the stingiest in the country giving up just 1.67 goals per game. Pre-Season All-ECAC first team pick Yanni Kaldis has gotten better each and every season he has been in Ithaca. The senior captain has six points but it has been his fellow defensemen in freshman Sam Malinski (9 points, plus 8) and Alex Green (7 points, plus 4) that have really elevated this team on the defensive end. Junior defensemen Matt Cairns hasn't yet broke out offensively but has been very steady with a plus five rating. The most shocking stat for Cornell is their struggles on the penalty kill at just 70% for the season. For a team that prides itself defensively this is a number that needs to improve if they want to make a deep tournament run this year.

Matthew Galajda couldn't match his freshman year statistics but could you really expect him to? After posting a 1.51 goals against and a .939 save percentage as a freshman, Galajda had a slight drop-off to a 1.85 goals against and a .921 save percentage as a sophomore. The junior is off to a stellar start once again with a 1.67 goals against and a .926 save percentage in six games and is the backbone of the Big Red. He should be someone who sees serious NHL interest in the spring.

Colgate Head Coach: Don Vaughan (27th Season)

2019-2020 Colgate record: 2-6-1 (0-1-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. Colgate : Quinnipiac leads 23-16-2

Colgate Key Players: Bobby McMann (F), Colton Young (F), Josh McKechney (F), Jared Cockrell (F), Paul McAvoy (F), Nick Austin (D), Trevor Cosgrove (D), Mitch Benson (G)

Colgate is coming off its third losing season in the last four years and the return on the four year old Class of 1965 Arena has yet to prove to be beneficial for the Raiders. They are still struggling to attract elite talent to Hamilton despite having a shiny new rink. This season the Raiders are off to a 3-6-3 start but have competed hard and lost some close games and beat and tied some good teams including UMass Lowell and Providence. They are lacking in talent and it is hurting them.

Just as it has been a problem in past years the offense once again is struggling for Colgate. Averaging just 1.66 goals per game, the Raiders desperately need to find players that can score goals. Freshman Colton Young looks like a nice find as he has six points on the year as the teams leading scorer. Colgate doesn't have one player averaging a point per game let a lone three quarters of a point per game. They are the 4th worst offense in the country and only Union is worse than them in the ECAC. Their best player Bobby McMann is off to a slow start and needs to get going for the Raiders. Colgate by far has the worst power play in the country at 2.27% (1 of 44).

Colgate has been able to stay in games because of its defense. On the season, the Raiders are allowing 2.58 goals per game and a lot of that is due to the fact they have four upperclassmen back on the blue line. Nick Austin, Trevor Cosgrove, Jacob Panetta and Paul Meyer have logged a ton of minutes for the Raiders and have helped keep the puck out of the net. This is a Colgate defense that also has done a nice job on the penalty kill at 82.2%

Sophomore Mitch Benson has done a very solid job this season for Colgate with a 2.37 goals against average and a .913 save percentage which are better numbers than he posted a season ago. Benson is the backbone of the Colgate defense and has shown to be the most consistent Raider player this season. If Colgate wants to beat Quinnipiac, he is going to have to play a big part in making that happen with a strong performance.

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