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.

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