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.

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