Sunday, January 12, 2020

Weekend in Review: St. Lawrence/Clarkson

Alex Whelan had a two goal weekend as the Bobcats split a North Country road trip
It was an up and down weekend for Quinnipiac which split its trip up in North Country with a win over St. Lawrence on Friday followed by a loss to 7th ranked Clarkson on Saturday which ended the Bobcats six game winning streak dating back to the last game of the first half of the season against UMass. Quinnipiac now has two weeks off from conference play with a non-conference game next weekend on the road at Holy Cross followed by the Connecticut Ice tournament the following weekend. Here are my thoughts and observations from the weekend split in North Country.

- I didn't like the way Quinnipiac played down to its competition on Friday against St. Lawrence in a 3-2 win. That is a terrible Saints team under first year coach Brett Brekke who is still looking to turn his roster over into his players within the next few seasons. The Bobcats had to claw and scratch their way to an unimpressive victory against one of the least talented teams in all of the Division I hockey and that shouldn't be the case.

- Senior Alex Whelan had two power play goals on the weekend and has begun to heat up since his return from injury. He had his six game point streak snapped against Clarkson however, but he is starting to make his presence felt in the Bobcats lineup offensively that was clearly missed earlier in the season.

- Speaking of the Bobcats power play, it was 50% against St. Lawrence going 2 of 4 but they struggled against Clarkson going 0 for 4 Saturday night. That is to be expected as the Golden Knights have one of the best penalty kills in the country at 92% moving them to second in that category nationally. They are almost impossible to score upon when they are short handed which bodes very well in the long run for Casey Jones team.

-  One player that is starting to come into his own is sophomore defensemen Zach Metsa. The Wisconsin native has almost tripled his offensive production from a season ago and he has done it in nine less games. With 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in 21 games played, Metsa is someone who is clearly on pace to eclipse 20 points from the blue line which would be a welcome sight for the underclassmen who will likely be one of the leaders back there next season.

- I liked the effort that Quinnipiac had at times against Clarkson but they just made too many mistakes in the defensive end against the Golden Knights that it cost them. Four unanswered goals led to the 5-2 win for Clarkson including two in twenty-three seconds by Jack Jacome, one of Clarkson's best offensive players. It was too much for the Bobcats to overcome with especially how well the Golden Knights play in their own defensive zone along with senior goaltender Frank Marotte who has been lights out for them this season.

- It was the first four goal game that Keith Petruzzelli has allowed in two months since he allowed four goals back on November 2nd in a loss to Arizona State. I think his defense let him down a bit in this game with turnovers in the defensive zone leading to goals. Combine that with the fact that Clarkson is a very good team and on the road in their building this was going to be a tough game no matter what. Quinnipiac still needs to clean some things up defensively as they clearly could have kept themselves in the game if not for some defensive breakdowns.

- The magnitude of the loss is huge for Quinnipiac. A win against Clarkson would have been enormous for their pairwise implications down the road but now they sit at 18th in the pairwise when a win would have likely got them in the top 13. They still have games against Cornell and Clarkson at home which will help in the pairwise should they win but the path to a possible at-large berth is still going to be tough without any big wins down the stretch. They also cannot lose to any bad teams as well.

- Quinnipiac won't head back into ECAC play until January 31st. They currently sit in third place in the ECAC standings but have played at least 2-3 more games than at least three of the teams behind them. They could easily fall to the middle of the pack without playing a conference game depending on what other teams do around them. For Quinnipiac its about just winning these next three non-conference games in order to hold their pairwise position firmly as losses would dip them into the 20's.

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