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.

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