Monday, December 30, 2019

Weekend in Review: Quinnipiac vs Princeton

Quinnipiac sweeps Princeton for the second consecutive year
The second half of the season is officially underway and for Quinnipiac they got off to a great start with a sweep of the weekend series against the Princeton Tigers winning 3-1 and 4-3 in a home and home slate that began at Hobey Baker Rink on Saturday followed by the last home game in Hamden this decade on Sunday. It is the second consecutive year that Quinnipiac has swept Princeton. Here are my thoughts from the weekend games.

- How big were these four points for Quinnipiac? They moved from 10th to 5th in the ECAC standings in just a weekend and now have once again positioned themselves for a first round bye and home ice. Had the Bobcats got swept or even split it might have been a bit tougher to gain home ice but now its back in play for the Bobcats.

- It was a tale of two games for Quinnipiac who got off to a hot start in the first leg of the weekend series jumping on Princeton with two goals in the first period before getting a late power play goal from Wyatt Bongiovanni to win 3-1. Sunday night, the Bobcats fell down 2-0 and 3-2 before rallying and winning 4-3 with a late goal by Bongiovanni again. The sophomore leads Quinnipiac with 8 goals this season.

- Congratulations to junior Odeen Tufto who reached 100 points as a junior with his second assist of the night on Sunday. Tufto had a four point weekend with a goal and three assists after ending the first half of the season with four straight scoreless games. They are going to need more games like we saw over the weekend from Tufto down stretch if Quinnipiac wants to go deep into March.

- It was a big weekend for the Quinnipiac sophomores who had ten points and five of the seven goals. If the Bobcats are going to have a second half resurgence then its going to have to be the sophomore class that carries them. Wyatt Bongiovanni and Zach Metsa had three point weekends while Peter Diliberatore had a goal and assist.

- The Quinnipiac defense is starting to gain steam offensively. Four goals this weekend including two from Zach Metsa, one from Peter Diliberatore and the first collegiate goal from freshman Jayden Lee. They were also solid in their own end as well which will be key in the second half of the season.

- Don't look now but junior goaltender Keith Petruzzelli has continued his strong play from the end of the first half of the season. He was stellar on Saturday night with a 34 save effort and while he only had 23 saves on Saturday, he made some spectacular saves to keep Quinnipiac in the game. In 17 games this season he is 9-6-1 with a 2.26 goals against and a .914 save percentage. He continues to get better each week and has solidified the goal-tending position for the Bobcats especially after the early season struggles. I would expect Rand Pecknold to ride Petruzzelli all the way to March now.

- Quinnipiac played a very disciplined game this weekend not being penalized on Saturday and only having two minor penalties. If this team can play this way down the stretch it should bold well for them. Stay out of the box and just do your job and good things will happen.

- We saw the first game action this season for defensemen Marcus Chorney as Logan Britt did not play this weekend. Its unknown if this was due to injury or something else but Quinnipiac already lost two defensemen in Cam Boudreau and Wyatt Head who both departed back to the junior ranks after not playing in the first semester. Depth is now a concern back there with the losses so I wonder if getting game action for Chorney will help in case of other injury situations.

- Quinnipiac has two more big home games against Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend before a North Country trip. Harvard crushed Quinnipiac 7-2 in early November while the Bobcats skated to a 2-2 tie with Dartmouth. With Harvard tied for second in the league and Dartmouth tied with Quinnipiac for 5th currently, these are four huge points up for grabs this weekend that could determine where Quinnipiac finishes. Outside of a non-conference game against Holy Cross and the Connecticut Ice tournament, its all ECAC games from here on out.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Weekend Preview: Princeton Tigers

Captain Karlis Cukste and Quinnipiac open the second half of the season this weekend

Princeton Head Coach: Ron Fogarty (6th season)

2019-2020 Princeton record: 2-8-3 (0-4-2 ECAC)

All-time vs. Princeton: Quinnipiac leads series 17-12-1

Princeton Key Players: Jackson Cressey (F), Corey Andonovski (F), Christian O'Neill (F), Lima Grande (F), Spencer Kersten (F), Derek Topatigh (D), Matthew Thom (D)  Ryan Ferland (G)

Quinnipiac is set to open the second half of the season this weekend with a home and home with the Princeton Tigers. It has been a tough start to the season for Ron Fogarty's team struggling to a 2-8-3 record in the first half of the season. The Tigers got cleaned out after last season losing four of their top five scorers which accounted for 127 of the 229 points for Princeton. Gone are Ryan Kuffner, Max Veronneau, Alex Riche and Josh Teves and it has been a struggle to replace that production so far for Princeton. A team that failed to live up to expectations last year has really fallen off this season with the lack of high end talent up front and inconsistent play on the back end.

When you lose the likes of Kuffner, Veronneau and Riche up front, its expected that goals will be hard to come by. So far that has been the case for Princeton who have averaged 1.92 goals per game this season. Senior Jackson Cressey (11 points) and sophomore Corey Andonovski (11 points) have led the way for the Tigers this season but they aren't getting a lot of help from the younger players who need to step up for Princeton in order to replace the talent that was lost. The Tigers power play which used to be a huge strength has fallen off to 15.5% this season.

Princeton's defense this season is giving up 3.15 goals per game. The Tigers just have not much consistency on the blue line as they have been moving different players in and out of the line up. Captain Derek Topatigh has probably been Princeton's best defensemen on this young season. Having Reid Yochim limited to just five games has hurt as well. He has really taken a step back from his strong freshman season when he had 14 points. Since his strong freshman year he has only two assists in his last 36 games played. Princeton however has excelled on the penalty kill at 84.8% this season so that is an area where they can look to have an edge on Quinnipiac.

Goal-tending has been an issue for the Tigers as Ryan Ferland has really struggled this season with a 1-5-2 record and a 3.12 goals against average in eight games. This has opened the door for both sophomore Jeremie Forget and freshman Aidan Porter getting some playing time. Forget has actually been the Tigers best goaltender going 1-1 in four games with a 1.98 goal against average. The lack of consistent goal-tending is one of the reasons why Princeton has struggled so far this season.

After sweeping the Tigers last season, Quinnipiac comes into this series in a must win position and need to sweep Princeton again. They are 10th in the ECAC standings and need to add ECAC points in order to potentially avoid going on the road in the first round.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Defensemen Nick Bochen commits to Quinnipiac

Nick Bochen (photo by Prince George Spruce Kings, BCHL)
Quinnipiac picked up a new commit just eight days before Christmas with the news that 2001 born defensemen Nick Bochen has committed to the program for the 2020-2021 according to Jeff Cox. Bochen is a former University of Michigan commit who has played the past two seasons for the Prince George Spruce Kings in the BCHL.
Bochen, native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is a 5'9, 175 pound right shot defensemen who has a 2-11-13 line in 22 games with Prince George this season. Both of his goals have come via the power play. As a 17 year old last year in 58 games played put up a 8-30-38 stat line with another six points in the playoffs.

A move for a defensemen for next season was expected with the departures of Cam Boudreau and Wyatt Head back to the junior ranks. Bochen will be expected to be a contributor day one as Quinnipiac has to replace Karlis Cukste next fall and possibly Peter Diliberatore should he depart early for a pro contract.


Elite Prospects Player Page
BCHL Player Page

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Weekend in Review: Quinnipiac vs. Massachusetts

Quinnipiac split a weekend series with #10 UMass

The first half of the season officially came to an end on Saturday as Quinnipiac ended the first half on a high note with a 2-1 win over UMass Amherst snapping the 16 game unbeaten streak of the Minutemen at the Mullins Center in the process. The team finished the first half 7-7-1 after a weekend split against UMass and there are areas where the team should be encouraged with. Here are my thoughts and observations from the weekend series.

- Quinnipiac played hard on Friday despite losing 3-0 and had some bad breaks in the game which UMass was able to capitalize on. The two teams played a period and a half of scoreless before the Minutemen broke through on a redirected goal by Keith Petruzzelli. UMass next scored via a power play on an undisciplined play by Joe O'Connor who took an unnecessary slashing penalty. UMass captain Mitchell Chaffee sealed the victory with a short handed empty net goal.

- Despite the loss of Cale Makar among others, UMass still has a really solid team this year that should challenge for another NCAA tournament berth. They play hard and didn't quit Saturday despite trailing by two goals. While they probably won't reach the same heights as last season, they are still building something special under Greg Carvel in Amherst for a program that should be really good for years to come. 

- The ECAC officials were awful in this game letting this game become chippy to the point of being borderline out of control. The non-call to the head of Quinnipiac's William Fallstrom was flat out embarrassing as Fallstrom never returned to the game and missed the following nights game. These are plays that need to be called correctly. That should have been a five minute power play for Quinnipiac and the result of this was the O'Connor slashing penalty leading to the second goal for UMass.

- Despite losing this game, Keith Petruzzelli stood out with some really spectacular play and he carried that into the following night when he helped win a big game on the road when the Bobcats were desperate. He stopped 52 shots on the weekend as both his goals against average and save percentage continue to trend in the right direction. The hope is that the break won't stop the momentum the junior has right now as he has really been a strong presence in between the pipes.

- The defense has really turned the corner in my mind. They went into the season talented but very inexperienced but the play by the blue line over the weekend was very solid especially on Saturday night. They are retrieving pucks and moving them out of the zone quickly. While there is an occasional turnover here and there, the way they have played the last six games should be a plus for the second half of the season.

- Quinnipiac's offensive struggles were on display again this past weekend as they just scored two goals the entire weekend. The offense was suppose to be one of the teams strengths but they are really hurting the team right now. While they have a lot of young players, the sophomores who were freshman a season ago haven't built off what they did last season. They need more from the players up front if they want to make a second half run and be a dangerous team in conference play.

- The power play is still having issues and Quinnipiac needs to use the break in order to figure a way to get that corrected as they can't continue to be in the 12% range on the man advantage. They have been slow moving the puck and not getting quality shots off. Good to great power plays excel at moving the puck quickly and not having a lot of indecision with the puck which is what is happening now with Quinnipiac.

- One area Quinnipiac has excelled with is winning face-offs. The face-off win percentage is at 54.4% which ties them for 5th in the country with Alaska. They need to is use that to their advantage to create puck possession in the offensive zone which will lead to more quality scoring chances.

- Next on tap for Quinnipiac is a home and home with the Princeton Tigers on December 28th and 29th. These next three weeks will hopefully get the Bobcats in a better place mentally and physically so they can attack in the second half come the end of Decemeber.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.