Friday, February 28, 2020

Weekend Preview: Brown/Yale

Senior Alex Whelan will play his final two regular season home games this weekend
The final games of the regular season take place this weekend as Quinnipiac is still fighting to clinch a first round bye along with keeping its slim chance of an at-large bid alive. In order to do that they will need to sweep the weekend slate of games. Quinnipiac is also closing in on the third seed for the ECAC tournament. One more Quinnipiac win or an RPI loss or a Bobcats tie combined with a RPI loss or tie will clinch a first round bye for the Bobcats in the ECAC playoffs.

Brown Head Coach: Brendan Whittet (11th year)

2019-2020 Brown record: 7-18-2 (7-11-2 ECAC)

All-time vs. Brown: Quinnipiac leads 24-10-7

Brown Key Players: Justin Jallen (F), Brent Beaudoin (F), Michael Maloney (F), Bradley Cocca (F), Zach Giuttari (D), Tony Stillwell (D), Luke Krys (D), Gavin Nieto (G)

The Bears are heading for the 9th losing season in 11 years under head coach Brendan Whittet but Brown has played better in its last nine games with a 4-3-2 record. That includes a tie against this Quinnipiac team they will face in Hamden. Brown has been a thorn in the side of Quinnipiac dating back to last season when they took three of four games from the Bobcats including the sweep in the ECAC Quarterfinal series. Brown has a chance to play spoiler once again and win over Quinnipiac would probably end any at-large hopes the Bobcats may have.

The Bears offense still has struggled to score goals at just 1.74 per game this season. Justin Jallen  still leads the team with 9 goals while and Brent Beaudoin is second on the team with seven goals and scored both goals against Quinnipiac in the teams last meeting. While the Bears have been anything but elite offensively, they have the ability to stay in the game and make it close against Quinnipiac especially with how the Bobcats have played down to its competition in recent weeks. If Brown is going to win their 4th in a row at the People's United Center they are going to need goals on the man advantage and greasy goals as well.

Defensively Brown is giving up 2.81 goals a game but give credit to the Bears defense. Over the past five games they have been very solid outside of a stinker of a performance when they allowed five goals to Dartmouth. They have held good offensive teams like Quinnipiac, Harvard and Cornell to just six goals with one of those goals being an empty net one. They have made it tough on some good teams to score and expect the same this weekend when they face the Bobcats.

Gavin Nieto has played well during this winning stretch in the last nine games for Brown especially his last three games in which he gave up a total of four goals in three games. If Nieto is playing at a high level, its been tough to score goals on the Bears and Quinnipiac witnessed that at the beginning of the month when Nieto made 29 saves in a tie against the Bobcats.

Yale Head Coach: Keith Allain (14th season)

2019-2020 Yale record: 12-13-2 (9-9-2 ECAC)

All-time vs. Yale : Quinnipiac leads series 23-7-5

Yale Key Players: Curtis Hall (F), Tyler Welsh (F), Justin Pearson (F), Kevin O'Neil (F), Luke Stevens (F), Phil Kemp (D), Jack St. Ivany (D), Corbin Kaczperski (G)

The Bulldogs are likely headed for another season around the .500 mark and its fourth straight season missing the NCAA tournament. Times have been tough for Yale whose program has seen a decline after making six tournament appearance in eight seasons including winning the 2013 National Championship. Yale just can't sustain a prolonged winning streak and has been up and down this season. They played tough against Quinnipiac in their last meeting at Ingalls Rink falling 3-2 in overtime. While Yale doesn't have any at-large chances along with very little chance to win the conference tournament they do however have a chance to spoil the Bobcats final regular season home game of the year.

Yale's offense has only averaged 2.56 goals per game this season. They lack offensive depth in order to have multiple scoring lines. Sophomore Curtis Hall is very talented and his 14 goals lead the Bulldogs. Justin Pearson is tied for the team lead in scoring with Hall at 23 points and is just behind him with 13 goals. Hall and Pearson are clear building blocks as the two are currently both sophomores. Tyler Welsh is in the midst of a breakout season with 22 points as a junior and fellow junior Kevin O'Neill has 15 points. While this season isn't over yet, the Bulldogs do have some nice pieces returning for next season as they look to rebound.

Since these two teams last met, the Yale defense hasn't got any better and is still giving up 3.19 goals per game. Its surprising since they have some good talent back there with Phil Kemp and Jack St. Ivany who are both draft picks. Yale definitely expected more from Graham Lillibridge over his two years in New Haven as he was a really good player in junior hockey. The Bulldogs did a solid job on defense less than a month ago when these teams met but with Quinnipiac fighting for not only ECAC position but an outside chance at a NCAA berth you have to think the Bobcats will be very motivated at home against their Whitney Avenue rivals and be aggressive against a Yale defense that clearly has not been good this season.

Senior Corbin Kaczperski has not been a difference maker this season as he has struggled with consistency. On the season he has a 2.97 goals against average and a low save percentage of 900. Kaczperski has regressed each season he has been at Yale and is unlikely to steal a game against Quinnipiac as he just hasn't played that well against the better teams that Yale has faced.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Weekend in Review: RPI/Union

Odeen Tufto's two goals lifted Quinnipiac to a 3-2 overtime win over Union
Quinnipiac's final road trip of the regular season was a lot more difficult and ended in just a split of the weekend. Friday night saw the RPI Engineers shut out Quinnipiac 4-0 for the their first ever shut out of the Bobcats. Quinnipiac rebounded on Saturday night with a come from behind 3-2 overtime win over Union. Here are my thoughts from this past weekends games.

- Give a lot of credit to RPI. That is a very underrated hockey team and in just his third season head coach Dave Smith deserves a ton of credit for the turnaround up in Troy. It helps when you top five scorers and six of your top seven are seniors. All of these seniors were recruited under former head coach Seth Appert and they have bought into what Smith is doing there. They have 12 players with 10 or more points so they are getting scoring from different parts of the roster and it has led them to a 15-15-2 record overall including 11-8-1 in the ECAC and still fighting for a first round bye. I think RPI is a team that no one wants to play in the upcoming conference tournament because they are peaking at the right time.

- RPI goaltender Owen Savory has been one of the hottest goaltenders in the country in the second half of the season and that has been a big factor in the turnaround season for the Engineers. His 37 saves gave him his fourth shutout of the second half of the season. The sophomore has the ability to steal games and with the way he is playing right now he could take his team all the way to Lake Placid.

- RPI did a good job capitalizing on special teams scoring two power play goals. They played from in front which is what you have to do against Quinnipiac and they never really gave the Bobcats too many elite scoring chances despite getting out shot 28-13 in the final two periods of play. It was one of the more frustrating performances of the season and only the second time this season that Quinnipiac was held scoreless.

- I think its really important for Quinnipiac to lock down the #3 seed to avoid a potential ECAC Quarterfinal match-up with RPI. Not that the Bobcats couldn't beat RPI in a series, it is that the Engineers are really peaking right now and have a goaltender playing on top of his game which makes for a very dangerous match-up. That would likely only happen if it was a 4-5 match-up so the Bobcats really need to take care of business this weekend and get that number 3 seed.

- I was really disappointed that Quinnipiac struggled to beat a 7 win Union team that has very little talent. More often this season, the Bobcats have played down to some of their competition which is frustrating but that probably happens at times with such a young team. Quinnipiac looked good early before Union got some chances and the early lead and things looked dim when Union scored a little over four minutes into period two but Michael Lombardi's goal just ten seconds after the Dutchmen goal was a huge momentum swing. It gave the Bobcats life in the game.

- Odeen Tufto will probably go down as one of the best players to put on a Quinnipiac sweater and I have seen many great ones stemming from Matthew Peca to Sam Anas, the Jones twins and Chase Priskie. But what Tufto did on Saturday night showed what type of player and leader he is. After going head first into the boards it looked like his night was going to be done at the least. But Tufto returned and not only did he score the tying goal, he scored the power play winner in overtime to give Quinnipiac two big ECAC points. He lifted the team on his back and carried them to the finish line in an important game. He has been one of the most consistent players the last three seasons as he closes in on his third straight 40 point campaign. I really hope he stays for his senior year as they will need his leadership and scoring for a team that could have big expectations.

- The Bobcats 3-2 overtime win over Union was the teams first win at Messa Rink since November of 2014. Messa has been a tough place for Quinnipiac to play at and I just can't figure out why especially since Union has struggled of late. Both of Quinnipiac's wins over Union this year were by just a goal each. Not a good look when the Dutchmen are one of the bottom teams in the ECAC.

- One more Quinnipiac win or an RPI loss or a Bobcats tie combined with a RPI loss or tie will clinch a first round bye for the Bobcats in the ECAC playoffs. Quinnipiac could use a week off to get fully healthy and to work on areas of need for the playoffs. With just a 14% chance at an at-large berth according to College Hockey News pairwise probability matrix, its looking like the way into the NCAA tournament will be winning the Whitelaw Cup in Lake Placid.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Weekend Preview: RPI/Union

Quinnipiac heads to the New York Capital Region this weekend
Its a big weekend for Quinnipiac hockey as they head to the New York Capital Region for an important road trip needing wins to help in the pairwise rankings along with some help from teams around them. At this point they cannot slip up if they want a potential at-large berth, otherwise they will have to win the ECAC tournament to reach the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season.

RPI Engineers

RPI Head Coach: Dave Smith (3rd Season)

2019-2020 RPI record: 13-15-2 (9-8-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. RPI: Quinnipiac leads 16-7-9

RPI Key Players: Chase Zieky (F), Patrick Polino (F), Mike Gornall (F), Ture Linden (F), Todd Burgess (F), Zach Dubinsky (F), Will Reilly (D), Simon Kjellberg (D), Cory Babichuk (D), Owen Savory (G)

The Engineers have seen vast improvement in the three years since Dave Smith has been at the helm. Its 13 wins currently, are the most since they had 18 wins in the 2015-2016 under former coach Seth Appert. RPI has a marquee win against Clarkson this year, but still has some troubles with the teams that are better than them. All in all you have to be impressed with how Smith has molded the Engineers in this time in Troy. This will definitely be a team that will be a tough out come the ECAC tournament next month.

While they don't have a player with double digit goals, they have a lot of balance scoring in their lineup with 12 players with 10 or more points this season. The Engineers only score 2.60 goals per game which is far from great. They are getting strong production from seniors Chase Zieky (20 points), Mike Gornall (17 points), Patrick Polino (15 points), Todd Burgess (14 points) and Jake Marrello (13 points). The biggest question is can the seniors elevate their game over the next month to become a factor in the playoffs? RPI's power play has not been good at just 15.1% this season.

RPI's defense has been solid this season allowing 2.83 goals per game. Will Reilly is the leader on defense with a plus 10 rating and second on the team with 17 points. But its the youth on defense that is playing well including freshman Cory Babichuk and Simon Kjellberg. The Engineers defense is clearly one of the reasons the team has played close to .500 this season. RPI's penalty kill is very solid at 83.8% which is 15th nationally.

Owen Savory has been one of the big reasons why RPI has been a very solid team this season and has a chance to make noise come March. While his record of 9-9-2 is far from impressive, his 2.38 goals against and a .920 save percentage are impressive. He has 3 shutouts to boot as well. Since the turn of the calendar to 2020, he has given up one goal or less in seven of the nine games he has played including three shutouts. His two worst games were to Western Michigan (6 goals) and Cornell (3 goals). He is in a groove right and definitely someone who can steal a game.

Union Dutchmen

Union Head Coach: Rick Bennett (9th Season)

2019-2020 Union record: 7-20-3 (5-12-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. Union: Quinnipiac leads 17-16-5

Union Key Players: Anthony Rinaldi (F), Sean Harrison (F), Gabriel Seger (F), Vas Kolias (D), Dylan Anhorn (D), Darion Hanson (G)

It has been a trying season for the Union Dutchmen who are in the midst of their worst season in the Rick Bennett era and worst since the days when Kevin Sneddon was the programs head coach. Its been a massive struggle for Union who have only two wins since the calendar turned to 2020. The lack of talent at Union is a real factor and you have to wonder if Rick Bennett regrets not taking a bigger job when his name came up in the past. Quinnipiac has not won at Union since November of 2014.

Union's offense has been downright awful at 1.80 goals per game. Senior Anthony Rinaldi (20 points) is having a nice season while Union has found a nice player with freshman Gabriel Seger (16 points) but not having Jack Adams due to injury has hurt and Parker Foo missed half the season and has not put up big points like he was expected to. Sean Harrison is the only other forward who has double digit points at 12. The Dutchmen power play which in years past was strong has been terrible this year at 11.8%. Frankly, Union just can't score goals and it is hurting them on the ice.

Union defensively hasn't been great this season allowing 3.07 goals. However, they have found a nice young piece in freshman Dylan Anhorn (13 points, plus 3) to build around. Senior Vas Kolias has had another double digit point season but is a minus 13 this year. Junior Brandon Estes who was very good as a sophomore has taken a step back this season going from 21 points a year ago to just 7 this year. The penalty kill has struggled at just 78.6% this season.

Darion Hanson's play is down this season but its due to a weak defense in front of him. If he wasn't the teams goaltender they would probably have given up the most goals in the country this season. That why having Hanson back there as a veteran presence has helped to a degree. His 2.82 goals against and a .904 save percentage are very average but the team in front of him is just not very good so his numbers are going to look worse. He held Quinnipiac to just two goals the last time these two teams met back in Hamden in mid November.  

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

2002 forward Seamus Campbell commits to Quinnipiac

Seamus Campbell
The Quinnipiac Bobcats picked up a verbal commitment from St. Louis Junior Blues forward Seamus Campbell according to a press release from the Jr. Blues orgnization. The 2002 born forward is playing in the NA3HL which is the Tier III hockey under the NAHL platform. Campbell is the son of former NHL player Jim Campbell who played for the Ducks, Blues, Canadiens, Blackhawks, Panthers and Lightning organizations playing in 285 NHL games.The younger Campbell is a 6'1, 185 right shot forward.

He has played for three different clubs this season primarily with the St. Louis Jr. Blues where he has 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) in 43 games. He played four games for the Springfield Jr. Blues (NAHL) where he has one goal. Campbell also plays for Kirkwood High School in Missouri where he has 16 points (7 goals, 9 assists) in 12 games. He recently took part in the 2020 NAHL Top Prospects tournament in Massachusetts and had one assist in two games with a minus one rating. 

Not much is known about Campbell but he is ranked 206th on the 2020 NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term rankings for North American skaters which is a surprise considering the level he is playing at in the NA3HL. He also becomes the first NA3HL player to commit to a Division I program since 2016.


EliteProspects Player Page
St. Louis Jr. Blues Player Page

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Weekend in Review: Clarkson/St. Lawrence

Quinnipiac beat St. Lawrence 6-1 on Saturday night
Quinnipiac came into the weekend looking to improve upon its pairwise status. However it left the weekend in a worst place than they started despite a split of the weekend. On Friday Quinnipiac had zero luck in a 3-2 loss to Clarkson in which they dominated the pace of play for the majority of the game. Saturday the Bobcats struggled for two periods before Odeen Tufto changed the Bobcats fortunes with a highlight reel goal leading to the flood gates opening in the third period. Here are my thoughts from this weekends game along with the outlook for the next few weeks.

- Friday night was a tough loss against a good Clarkson team. A game that Quinnipiac really needed, the Bobcats found themselves behind the eight ball quickly as Clarkson was up two within the first six minutes of the game. Neither of the goals were Petruzzelli's fault with the first goal just inching past the goal line in which an official review confirmed. I was really surprised with the early struggles by Quinnipiac in such a big game as I thought we would see more energy and passion from the start.

- Usually when a team dominates the shot count and the face-offs it usually wins. That wasn't the case on Friday when Quinnipiac out shot Clarkson 41-24 and crushed them 36-21 on the face-off dot. The Bobcats just didn't have any puck luck while Clarkson goaltender Frank Marotte was really good with 39 saves on the night. Quinnipiac also couldn't take advantage of the injury to the best Clarkson forward in Haralds Egle.

- I find it surprising that Clarkson doesn't score as much with the talent they have up front. They have an unheralded defense and a good goaltender but no superstars on the blue line. All the talent is up front and they rarely have put up big offensive numbers this season. I wonder if that will come back to hurt them come tournament time against teams that have high powered offenses.

- The Bobcats did a good job of erasing a two goal deficit on Friday but they just couldn't push ahead of Clarkson. Quinnipiac got goals from Michael Lombardi and Ethan Leyh but were stifled most of the night by the Clarkson defense.

- I was really disappointed at the lack of calls in the Clarkson game on both sides. The game was chippy and to have only one power play for each team is shocking. The referees swallowed their whistles and their was really no reason to. Maybe the game is different if they call this game tight as Quinnipiac could have had some more power play opportunities. This was two games in a row with poor officiating in which Quinnipiac played in.

Five different Bobcats found the back of the net against St. Lawrence
- Just as Quinnipiac struggled on Friday night early, the same happened Saturday against just a terrible St. Lawrence team. It was nerve racking for almost two periods as Quinnipiac trailed 1-0 yet was dominating on the shot count. It wasn't until Odeen Tufto's spectacular individual effort for a goal late in period two saw the momentum change towards the Bobcats. If you haven't seen the goal yet I would watch this link below. This could easily be one of the goals of the year in the NCAA. Just a tremendous effort when the Bobcats really needed a spark.

- It seemed like only a matter of time that Quinnipiac would take control after that Tufto goal. It also helped that St. Lawrence would lose its composure in the third period taking six straight penalties which led to four power play goals. Quinnipiac added an even strength goal late as they capped a five goal third period to win in a runaway. The score wasn't as indicative of how close this game really was early.

- I thought St. Lawrence played a disgraceful third period and if Brent Brekke approved play like that then shame on him. If he didn't then he needs to clean some of this dead weight off the roster as soon as the season ends. Most of these players are the garbage that Mark Morris brought into St. Lawrence so he should want to clean some of these goons out as soon as possible.

-  Its pretty amazing that you can crush a team 6-1 yet it hurts you in the pairwise rankings. That's exactly what happened as Quinnipiac fell from 15th to 18th in the pairwise. They clearly need to win out now and probably get to Lake Placid and possibly even to the conference championship game. A lot will depend on what happens with the teams around them as teams like Lowell, Western Michigan, Minnesota, Maine and Providence have some challenging games. There is still a lot to shake out the next few weeks but Quinnipiac is clearly a bubble team at this point due to its slow start to the season and because of a loss to Colgate and a tie to Brown which are really hurting them at this point.

- Quinnipiac heads on its final road trip of the regular season to the New York Capital Region as they take on an ever improving RPI team Friday night before facing a struggling Union team Saturday. RPI is probably Quinnipiac's toughest remaining game and that is due to goaltender Owen Savory who has been really good this season for the Engineers. His play is one of the reasons why RPI is still fighting for a possible bye in the ECAC tournament.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Weekend Preview: Clarkson/St. Lawrence

Quinnipiac returns home for a huge game against Clarkson on Friday

Clarkson Head Coach: Casey Jones (9th season)

2019-2020 Clarkson record: 20-6-2 (13-3-0 ECAC)

All-time vs. Clarkson: Quinnipiac leads series 16-13-3

Clarkson Key Players: Haralds Egle (F), Jack Jacome (F), Devin Brosseau (F), Josh Dunne (F), Greg Moro (D), Connor McCarthy (D), Frank Marotte (G)

With only three losses since mid November and 20 wins in total this season, the program is on pace to have the best season of the Casey Jones era. At 9th in the pairwise rankings, Clarkson is inching closer to a third straight NCAA appearance for the first time since the late 1990's. Jones has this program as one of the elite programs of the ECAC and expect them to be in the upper echelon for a very long time. For Quinnipiac, this game is a must win considering the Bobcats are on the bubble at 14th in the pairwise which is too close to the cut line. Much like the Cornell game a couple of weeks ago, a win could propel this team a few more spots higher in the pairwise rankings.

Clarkson this season is averaging 2.93 goals per game which is a little bit low for a team as good as the Golden Knights. The offense is built around seniors Haralds Egle (30 points) and Devin Brosseau (27 points). Sophomore Josh Dunne has 12 goals and third in points with 26. Zach Tsekos and Jack Jacome are other solid contributors for Clarkson. The Golden Knights power play has scored 26 goals this season at a clip of a shade just under 23.9%. Clarkson has the ability to change a game in an instant and Quinnipiac saw that when these teams met a month ago when Jack Jacome scored two goals 23 seconds apart to give the Golden Knights a lead they would not relinquish.

Clarkson is built to win on defense. Giving up just 1.75 goals per game, the Golden Knights defense is third best in the nation behind Minnesota State and Cornell. While Connor McCarthy is the only player putting up big numbers from the blue line, the Golden Knights are just getting consistent play from guys like sophomore Brian Hurley along with Seniors Jordan Schneider and Greg Moro. Sophomore Michael Underwood is tied for second on the team with a plus 10. Clarkson isn't flashy, they just get the job done and do a really good job preventing other teams from scoring. They also boost the nations number one penalty kill at 92.9%.

Frank Marotte continues to be one of the top goaltenders in all of college hockey. He has played in every game for Clarkson this season and his .940 save percentage and 1.67 goals against are both second in college hockey in those categories. Simply put he is difficult to score on but part of that is the players he has in front of him. Quinnipiac has shown it can beat a strong goaltender when it put five goals on Cornell's Matthew Galajda just a few short weeks ago.

St. Lawrence Head Coach: Brett Brekke (1st year)

2019-2020 St. Lawrence record: 3-21-4 (1-14-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. St. Lawrence: Quinnipiac leads 16-15-5

St. Lawrence Key Players: Zach Risteau (F), Keenan Suthers (F), Jordan Steinmetz (F), Andrew McIntyre (F), Jake Stevens (D), Bo Hanson (D), Daniel Mannella (G)

St. Lawrence hasn't found the win column in three months coming into this weekend dating back to November 9th when they beat Union 3-2 in overtime. Since then they are 0-15-3. It has been a rough first season for new head coach Brett Brekke but he cannot be judged with this team as it lacks talent and players he recruited. For Quinnipiac, this is a must win at home and a game they surely cannot lose if they want to make the tournament. A loss would have a massive negative impact and would almost certainly end any at-large hopes for them. A month ago Quinnipiac just squeaked by St. Lawrence 3-2 up in North Country.

The Saints are the worst offensive team in all of college hockey averaging just 1.64 goals per game. Sophomore Zach Risteau (21 points) is St. Lawrence best offensive player but he has been held scoreless in his last six games. Junior Keenan Suthers is tied for the team lead with seven goals while freshman Jordan Steinmetz has 10 points. Its an offense that lacks high talent and players that put a scare in you. St. Lawrence has a power play that has struggled at 13.9% this season with only 15 goals scored via the man advantage.

The Saints defense has gotten tad better since these two teams last met. St. Lawrence is down to giving up 3.25 goals per game which is more than a quarter of a goal better than a month ago. Its baby steps for the Saints but the improvement on paper has been real. Bo Hanson is the best defencemen that St. Lawrence has and he found the back of the net the last time these two teams played. At 76.1%, the Saints boost one of the nations worst penalty kills so look for that to be an area that Quinnipiac exploits on Saturday night.

Over the second half of the season, St. Lawrence has rotated games between senior Daniel Mannella and freshman Francis Boisvert. It was Mannella who played against Quinnipiac up in Canton a month ago and kept the Saints in the game. It remains to be seen who Brent Brekke starts as he could go either way.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Weekend in Review: Yale/Brown

Quinnipiac once again beat their Whitney Avenue rivals
Quinnipiac had a three point weekend against Yale and Brown but it was far from easy against each of them with each game going into overtime. What should have been a weekend that was much smoother with a pair of victories turned into two nail bitters for the Bobcats. Still they didn't lose either game but the tie against Brown wasn't helpful and we will get more into that later. Here are my thoughts from this weekends games.

- It wasn't pretty but it was another victory over its Whitney Avenue rival. The Bobcats spotted Yale a 1-0 lead just 55 seconds into the game before scoring the next two goals of the game, one by Alex Whelan in the latter stages of the second period and early in the third period by Hamden native Joe O'Connor. A late Evan Smith goal for Yale forced overtime at Ingalls but the Bobcats ended things quickly just 18 seconds in when Odeen Tufto scored the game winner.

- Quinnipiac did a really good job of holding Yale's best player Curtis Hall scoreless on the night. Hall finished a -2 and only won 13 of 25 face-offs against Quinnipiac. Shutting him down was key as he came into the weekend with 13 goals. The game could have been much different if Hall had got going.

- Despite winning the game, Quinnipiac lost the face-off battle against Yale but William Fallstrom went 11 of 16 which is impressive. As long as Quinnipiac continues to win face-offs which turn into puck possession they should be ok.

- Jayden Lee took a major hit against Yale which knocked him out of the game. He was not healthy enough to make the trip to Brown to play. Let's hope he won't be out too long as he is an important puck moving defencemen despite not putting up big point totals as a freshman. Lee had played in every game this season until he missed Saturday's game against Brown which shows how important and reliable he has been this season.

- Saturday's game against Brown was ugly at times. Quinnipiac had some nice sustained early pressure but couldn't get anything past Gavin Nieto. The Bobcats had two power plays in the opening period and had some nice looks but couldn't find the back of the net. Brown got on the board first late in the period after a Michael Lombardi roughing call. Brent Beaudoin found the back of the net as Keith Petruzzelli wasn't in the best position to make a save. It continued to be ugly in the second period in which Quinnipiac was dominated by Brown in shots and got a late goal by Beaudoin again.

Quinnipiac needed a comeback to force a 2-2 tie with Brown
- Things looked pretty bleak after that second Beaudoin goal coming late in the second period but Quinnipiac's goal by Ethan de Jong with three seconds left in the period was a momentum shift. Instead of being down 2-0 heading into the third, Quinnipiac was only down one. That greasy goal in traffic was just what the Bobcats needed going into the third period.

- It was back to back games that Alex Whelan had a big goal. The senior got Quinnipiac on the board Friday night against Yale and Saturday he took the puck bowled over a defender and rifled one high past Gavin Nieto for the game tying goal. Whelan has now hit double figures in goals in three straight seasons and is one of the most important players on the team in my opinion. You saw the struggles when he was out of the lineup earlier this season. He brings so much passion and energy on each shift that its tough to replace when he is not out there.

- Is there a more embarrassing official than Chip McDonald. He was awful on Saturday night during the Brown game. Not only did he miss a bunch of offside calls on each side, he missed a too many men on the ice penalty against Brown (they had seven players on the ice) and called a ridiculous embellishment penalty on captain Nick Jermain which should have given Quinnipiac a 5 on 3 as a penalty had been called prior to that play. Instead of a Bobcats full two man advantage he called the single embellishment on Jermain thus the teams skating at four aside. Its time for the ECAC to get rid of McDonald who continues to botch calls time and time again.

- How damaging was that tie against Brown? The tie cost Quinnipiac two spots in the pairwise rankings as a win puts them at 12th. They are currently 14th which is dangerously close to the cut line. Think about this for a minute. Had they beaten Brown on Saturday and won against Colgate up in Hamilton back in November this team would be 8th in the pairwise rankings and in a comfortable position. You just can't lose or tie games to bad teams as its always going to come back to bite you later on.

- Its another big weekend for Quinnipiac who have a huge game against Clarkson Friday night. A win will give Quinnipiac a big boost in the pairwise rankings which they clearly need. Saturday they face St. Lawrence in a game that they definitely cannot lose or even tie at this point. We will have more on these teams later in the week.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Weekend Preview: Yale/Brown

Quinnipiac has a big road trip against Yale and Brown this weekend

Yale Head Coach: Keith Allain (14th season)

2019-2020 Yale record: 9-11-1 (6-7-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. Yale : Quinnipiac leads series 22-7-5

Yale Key Players: Curtis Hall (F), Tyler Welsh (F), Justin Pearson (F), Kevin O'Neil (F), Luke Stevens (F), Phil Kemp (D), Jack St. Ivany (D), Corbin Kaczperski (G)

It has been another middling season for one of the Bobcats biggest rivals as the Bulldogs are likely to finish .500 or below for the fourth straight season. The teams best win was a 3-1 win against a solid Maine team that probably will fall short of the NCAA tournament. Since winning a surprise national championship in 2013, Yale has seen its program really fall down in the ECAC and nationally. The question is can they ever get back to one of the elite teams in the league and the country? They face Quinnipiac at probably the wrong time as the Bobcats have won 10 of their last 12 games and have owned Yale over the last half decade plus.

Yale's offense has been a struggle this season to get going. Just like a season ago when they were essentially one a trick pony with Joe Snively, the same is pretty much this year in terms of scoring as Curtis Hall (15 points) has taken Snively's place as the go to player. His 13 goals lead Yale with four of the goals being of game winning goals. He is also second on the team with three power play goals. Junior Tyler Welsh and Justin Pearson are tied with Hall for the team lead in points with 15 apiece. Pearson does lead the Bulldogs with five power play goals. Junior Kevin O'Neil (11 points) and senior Luke Stevens (9 points) help pace the offense that is only averaging 2.38 goals per game good for 45th in the country. They have a middle of the pack power play at 18.5% which is 33rd nationally.

The Yale defense was expected to be a strength of the team has really struggled this season allowing 3.19 goals per game which is 46th nationally. They have good talent back there in Jack St. Ivany, Phil Kemp, Graham Lillibridge and Billy Sweezy but can't seem to keep goals out of the net. While St. Ivany has just about matched his point total from a year ago his plus minus has really taken a step back. A year ago he was a plus 8 for the season and now he is a minus 10. Yale has juggled through nine defencemen this year so its hard to get consistency when you can't get a set lineup. The Bulldogs have struggled on the penalty kill at 76.9% good for 50th in the country.

Gone is Sam Tucker who transferred to Boston University with a year left of eligibility. Senior Corbin Kaczperski has struggled this season with a 2.92 goals against average and a .900 save percentage. His 19 games are the most he has seen in a season as he had split time with Sam Tucker the past two seasons. His worst games have been against teams with high powered offenses in Cornell, Harvard and Sacred Heart. He will play solid against the bad teams and most likely falter against good ones.

Brown Head Coach: Brendan Whittet (11th year)

2019-2020 Brown record: 5-16-0 (5-9-0 ECAC)

All-time vs. Brown: Quinnipiac leads 24-10-6

Brown Key Players: Justin Jallen (F), Brent Beaudoin (F), Michael Maloney (F), Bradley Cocca (F), Zach Giuttari (D), Tony Stillwell (D), Luke Krys (D), Gavin Nieto (G)

A season after taking a step forward with just the second winning season in the Brendan Whittet era that ended with a trip to Lake Placid, Brown finds itself towards the bottom of the ECAC standings once again. The team that knocked Quinnipiac out of the ECAC tournament in stunning fashion comes into this weekend having lost 11 of its last 13 games. The two lone wins came against Union and St. Lawrence, both of which are the two worst teams in the league. The Bobcats come in as the superior team and need to play like it.

Brown's offense is the worst in the nation this season at 1.67 goals per game. Justin Jallen (9 goals) and Brent Beaudoin (5 goals) are the only two players on the roster with five or more goals this season. Only twice this season have the Bears scored four or more goals and both times were in wins against Colgate and Yale. Its been a challenge for Brown to score goals and with the Bobcats defense improving each and every week along with Keith Petruzzelli having a strong year, it is likely Brown will have a lot of trouble scoring goals. One area where the Bears may be able to score is on the power play where they are converting at an 18.6% clip good for 32nd in the country. If Quinnipiac stays disciplined and out of the box I really can't see the Brown offense challenging them.

Defensively the Bears are middle of the pack defensively at 2.90 goals per game. Brown has taken a step back defensively as players such as Zach Giuttari and Tony Stillwell haven't played as well in their own zone as they did a year ago. Coupled with the fact that the Bears have played three freshman for a combined 51 games on the back end and the struggles are to be expected. The Bears defense is solid enough to keep them in a game but more often than not they will lose because of their poor offense. Brown's penalty kill is solid at 81% this season good for 28th.

Gavin Nieto has gotten the majority of the starts for the Bears and despite a losing record, he has a 2.67 goals against and a .909 save percentage for the season which is pretty respectable given the state of the team. Nieto has proven that he can play big against Quinnipiac with his strong play in last years ECAC Quarterfinal series in which he held the Bobcats to just four goals over two games helping Brown to a shocking sweep in Hamden.

This is an important weekend for the Bobcats as a sweep is a must. The Bobcats at-large hopes rest on not losing against any of the bad teams in the ECAC and these two teams aren't very good. Quinnipiac needs to come out of this weekend not only healthy but with four points.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Weekend in Review: Cornell/Colgate

Quinnipiac shutout the #1 team in the country in Cornell 5-0

It was a payback weekend for Quinnipiac who avenged a pair of losses in upstate New York back in November when they lost to Cornell and Colgate. Friday saw Quinnipiac put an absolute beat-down on the #1 team in the country in the Cornell Big Red shutting them out 5-0 behind a 22 save performance by Keith Petruzzelli and they followed it up by gutting out a 2-1 win over Colgate the following night. Here are my thoughts of the weekend sweep.

- The win over #1 Cornell was massive for Quinnipiac's pairwise ranking. The win soared the Bobcats from 19th to 14th and while their is still plenty of work to do this is a big win considering they will get a quality win bonus for it. With eight regular season games remaining, the schedule clearly favors the Bobcats who have one really challenging game the rest of the way on February 14th when they host Clarkson. Every other game on the schedule is winnable and I clearly expect them to win. This team clearly has the ability and the favorable schedule to run the table the rest of the way. If they do that they will be in a great position for the NCAA tournament.

- Quinnipiac did a great job surviving an early flurry of chances from Cornell. Give credit to Keith Petruzzelli who made nine saves that opening period to keep the game scoreless early on. The game could have been different had Cornell drew first blood. His play gave Quinnipiac the opportunity to keep the game scoreless until captain Nick Jermain and defencemen Zach Metsa scored 52 seconds apart to take command of the game. Petruzzelli finished a strong weekend with 52 saves in two games allowing just the lone goal on Saturday against Colgate.

- The Bobcats offense was on fire Friday against Cornell goaltender Matthew Galajda. I never thought that would happen as Galajda has been the best goaltender in the league this season and one of the best in all of the country. He has a tremendous track record of success against Quinnipiac and was a big factor of why they won the earlier match at Lynah Rink. Give Quinnipiac a lot credit for continuing to pepper Galajda in periods one and two and until he was relieved in goal by Austin McGrath.

- I think we have all heard the term "Save the best for last". In this case captain Nick Jermain certainly represents that term. He had another strong weekend with a three point game against Cornell including two goals. Jermain's 10 goals this season are not only second on the team but a career high for him. His 15 points also eclipsed the 14 he had in his sophomore season, his only other full season of health. With 8 games to play he should easily hit the 20 point plateau and possibly even get to 25.

- While Quinnipiac has only one player averaging a point per game (Odeen Tufto) they are getting contributions from a lot of different players during this second half turnaround. Guys like Zach Metsa, Peter Diliberatore, Ethan Leyh, William Fallstrom, Skyler Brind'Amour, Ethan de Jong and Wyatt Bongionvanni have really helped carry this team during a 10-2 stretch dating back to the end of the first half win at UMass.

Quinnipiac beat Colgate 2-1 on Saturday
- I had a good feeling the Colgate game wasn't going to be easy and boy was I right. While Colgate lacks high end skill and talent, they have a ton of will and have clearly played above their skill ability. Head coach Don Vaughan is getting more out of his team than I ever thought he would this year and has put them for a home ice series in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. Colgate should be competitive down the stretch and can help Quinnipiac by possibly stealing a game against Cornell next weekend.

- I never thought this was possible back in November but Quinnipiac still has a decent chance to win the Cleary Cup but will need some help to do it. First off the Bobcats will need to win out which is entirely possible given the schedule they have remaining. The most challenging game is Clarkson which is at home while RPI is their most challenging road game. Every other game is against Yale (2), Brown (2), St. Lawrence and Union. The help that Quinnipiac will need is for Clarkson to beat Cornell on February 29th along with Cornell also possibly losing another game outside of Clarkson for an outright title.

- Quinnipiac now heads out on the road for a short road trip down the road against Yale on Friday night before heading to Providence against Brown on Saturday. The Bobcats have had a ton of success against Yale and have won their last three games at Ingalls Rink which includes two playoff games. While you can't overlook Yale, Saturday night you have to think Quinnipiac will look to have revenge on their minds against a Brown team that swept Quinnipiac at the People's United Bank Center in the ECAC Quarterfinal series last year.

You can follow the BobcatsHockeyBlog on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.