Monday, January 27, 2020

Weekend in Review: UConn/Sacred Heart @ Connecticut Ice Festival

Quinnipiac vs. UConn on Saturday afternoon

It was a celebration weekend of hockey in the state of Connecticut with the inaugural Connecticut Ice Festival taking place in Bridgeport with college and youth hockey games over the three day weekend. For Quinnipiac the weekend started out well with a 3-2 win over the Connecticut Huskies but the Bobcats couldn't win the tournament as they fell 4-1 to Sacred Heart in the championship game. Here are my thoughts from the weekend tournament.

- Before we talk about the games I just want to say how great this event was for the four teams in Connecticut. After many years of discussion this tournament came to fruition and was good for the programs and the fans. Lets hope this tournament is around for the long haul.

- While Quinnipiac won Saturday's game against UConn, its loss to Sacred Heart was hurtful in the pairwise rankings. Had the Bobcats won the tournament they would currently be 13th in the rankings but now sit at 19th. At this point Quinnipiac will need to definitely win games against Cornell and Clarkson to have any at-large chance and they really can't afford to drop any more games against teams below them.

- I loved seeing Quinnipiac captain Nick Jermain's second period goal become the game winner. It must have felt good for the Connecticut native to put his mark on this tournament. Jermain finished with a two point weekend as he assisted on the lone Quinnipiac goal by Karlis Cukste on Sunday against Sacred Heart.

- Quinnipiac really had to scrap it out against a solid UConn team that has some pretty high end talent on their roster. The Bobcats stayed poised and pretty disciplined in this game and did just enough to get by Connecticut despite a late push by the Huskies. I'm really surprised that UConn isn't better with some of the talent they have but they really lack depth on their roster.

- I liked the fact that Wyatt Bongiovanni got a two minute instead of a five minute major for a cross check to the chin of the UConn player. There was no intent to injure there and thought the UConn player sold the hit worse than it actually was. Good for the officials sticking with just two minutes in that situation.

- The third and fourth goals of the season for Karlis Cukste put him one shy of his career high of five goals in his freshman. Cukste is also on pace to break his scoring mark of 20 points he had a season ago with at least 12 more game left in the regular season and ECAC tournament. 

- Quinnipiac came out strong in the championship game against Sacred Heart getting a seeing eye goal by Karlis Cukste and controlling the play through the period. On the heels of a very good first period came one of the worst periods of the season. Quinnipiac was terrible in the second period with giveaways and sloppy play. Give Sacred Heart a lot of credit as they were the more aggressive team. Ryan Steele tied the game just 5:19 into the second period but the Pioneers gained controlled with two goals in a minute six time frame to turn this game into their favor. They continued to play relentless and it paid off with the tournament championship.

- For those that may not have liked seeing Sacred Heart celebrate like they won a National Championship, deal with it. They earned it this weekend with their play on the ice. Lets hope Quinnipiac remembers this and uses it as fuel the rest of way so they can be the ones celebrating the next time.

- One last Sacred Heart tidbit. It was great to see them announce over the weekend that they will be constructing a new 4000 seat on campus rink scheduled to open in 2022 with construction set to get underway this summer. This is a program that has come a long way from the days at the Milford Ice Pavilion and its great for head coach C.J. Marottolo as he continues to build the Pioneers into a strong program.

- With 10 games left in the regulars season, Quinnipiac now has their biggest game of the season against #1 Cornell in Hamden this Friday. If the Bobcats have any chance at an at-large berth they will need to win this game as it would be a big boost to their pairwise ranking.

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