Thursday, December 24, 2020

Thoughts and Observations from Quinnipiac's midweek sweep of Holy Cross

Desi Burgart leads Quinnipiac with four goals this season

The Quinnipiac Bobcats bounced back from a disappointing weekend against Bowling Green to sweep Holy Cross in a home and home series. The Bobcats won 6-1 on Tuesday in Hamden and followed that up with a 3-0 road win on Wednesday prior to Christmas. Quinnipiac did what they had to do in these games which was essentially not lose them and they did that. Here are my thoughts and observations from the Holy Cross games. 

- Quinnipiac had a pair of good solid efforts against a much weaker opponent. They took care of business with ease on Tuesday with five players having multi point games. The Bobcats were in control from the start and never let Holy Cross even sniff a chance at getting back into the game. When Quinnipiac plays like that they are a dangerous team. Wednesday night was a game Quinnipiac also controlled but the score was much tighter. They got goals in each period while Keith Petruzzelli was on his game once again to pick up his first shutout of the season. 

- Two Bobcats look like they are taking that next step as players. Guus van Nes and Desi Burgart are off to greats starts this season for Quinnipiac. van Nes is tied for third on the team in scoring with a goal and five assists while Burgart leads the team in goals with four.  If those two can continue the hot start it will be big for the depth of this team during the season.

- One player who is struggling offensively right now is Skyler Brind'Amour. The sophomore forward has just one assist this season and is scoreless in his last five games. After a 13 point freshman year, Brind'Amour was expected to take even a further leap this season but right now is struggling to find the scoring sheet. Hopefully its only temporary but its something to watch.

- While I think this is a very talented Quinnipiac team I am not sure we will really know how good they are with the lack of quality non-conference opponents and only three other ECAC teams playing this season. We know Clarkson has in the past been a good team but they have struggled out of the gate with a 4-3 record and losses to RIT, Niagara and Colgate. I really wish other ECAC teams had not bailed on the season especially the Ivy League teams. 

- Freshman Christophe Fillion picked up his first collegiate point against Holy Cross on Tuesday. Fillion is a plus five in just three games played. Not bad from someone who started this season in junior hockey in the USHL and was expected to come in next season. 

- Keith Petruzzelli's stellar play rewarded him with his first shutout of the season in Wednesday's win over Holy Cross. The senior has a 1.56 goals against average and a .939 save percentage in his final season so far. He has gotten better in each of this four seasons in Hamden and is the backbone of this team. His play will dictate how far the Bobcats can go this season.

- I cannot stress how important this upcoming weekend series against American International College will be. This is the Bobcats final two non-conference games and they come against the team that is #3 currently in the pairwise rankings. Granted that is unlikely to continue but the Bobcats really need these two wins to boost their pairwise ranking as they head into the four team ECAC season. AIC is a very good defensive team as they have allowed just five goals this season in five games played all wins. The Yellow Jackets are coming off back to back 20 plus win seasons along with two Atlantic Hockey regular season titles. They are well coached by Eric Lang who is one of the top coaches in the Northeast. Quinnipiac will have their hands full with this team this weekend.

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Monday, December 21, 2020

Thoughts and Observations of Quinnipiac’s lost weekend against Bowling Green

Keith Petruzzelli saved 67 of 72 shots this weekend against Bowling Green

The Quinnipiac Bobcats this past weekend welcomed the Bowling Green Falcons to Hamden for the first match-up ever between these programs. Bowling Green came into the weekend as a team that had already played seven games on the season even those two were against Division III Adrian. The Falcons swept the weekend series against the Bobcats winning 4-1 Friday night and followed that up with a come from behind 4-2 win Saturday. Here are my thoughts and observations from the weekend games.

- Quinnipiac was thoroughly dominated on Friday night and really didn't looked prepared coming into the game. Bowling Green dominated the first two periods out shooting Quinnipiac 28-7 while pounding the Bobcats on the fore-check and possessing the puck better. The Bobcats had very little jump in their step and looked like they didn't know what to expect from this veteran Bowling Green squad. 

- Color me super impressed with Bowling Green. This is a well coached veteran team that came into Hamden and swept Quinnipiac on the weekend. That is usually very hard to do and they did it in convincing fashion one night and in come from behind fashion the next night. They are strong on the puck and have a very good fore-check. The Falcons should be a strong team this season in the WCHA and reach the NCAA tournament again.

- I hate to blame officials but that phantom elbowing call on Quinnipiac's Peter Diliberatore was inexcusable and for Chip McDonald and his crew to make a call like that in a tie game late is just awful. McDonald has been a brutal official for years and this isn't the first time he has screwed Bobcats on calls. This call changed the game as Bowling Green scored to take the lead and followed it up with an empty net goal to seal the win. I do wish a call like that could be challenged in the future. 

- Even with the brutal penalty call on Peter Diliberatore, Quinnipiac just didn't play well in the third period to win the game. They need to play for 60 minutes and they just didn't do that. It really started with that late Bowling Green power play goal in the second period by Gavin Gould. That changed the momentum towards the Falcons which they carried into the third period. 

- I thought Keith Petruzzelli played really well this weekend despite the end results. He made 67 saves on the weekend and surrendered just five goals. His play definitely kept the score lower than it probably could have been. So far this season he has been a rock in between the pipes for the Bobcats.

- Quinnipiac was very undisciplined this weekend as they took 14 penalties. This is uncharacteristic of a Rand Pecknold coached team but the play of Bowling Green had a ton to do with that as they had a strong possession game along with a strong fore-check that created some odd man chances in which Quinnipiac had to take a penalty. The Bobcats need to clean up the undisciplined play fast as they have four more games this week.

- Not getting at least a split this weekend against Bowling Green could come back to hurt the Bobcats later in the season with the pairwise rankings. Outside of the playing Bowling Green, Quinnipiac doesn't play another team that is ranked in the non-conference schedule. The Bobcats will probably have to have real good league success and individual success against Clarkson to make up for their lack of non-conference opponents and the fact that most of the ECAC opted out of the season.

- Its another quick turnaround for Quinnipiac with a mid week home and home series with Holy Cross. The Crusaders are off to a solid 4-2 start this season but have played mostly Atlantic Hockey teams outside of newcomer Long Island University. These are super important games as Quinnipiac cannot afford to lose any more out of conference games with the lack of quality ECAC opponents on the schedule outside of Clarkson. 

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Thoughts & Observations of Quinnipiac's two game sweep over Sacred Heart

Zach Metsa had a five point series as Quinnipiac swept Sacred Heart

For the first time since February 29th, the Quinnipiac Bobcats took to the ice for a live hockey game as they played host to Sacred Heart to kick off its season two months later than normal due to the COVID-19 situation still on going in the world. The 2019-2020 season ended abruptly prior to the ECAC Quarterfinals with the Bobcats finishing with a record of 21-11-2. 

The 2020-2021 season has seen eight of the twelve ECAC teams not take part this season with only Quinnipiac, Clarkson, Colgate and St. Lawrence playing on. The Bobcats will play a 26 game season having already lost two games to cancellation. 

Quinnipiac got off to a good start this year with back to back wins against Sacred Heart, 9-2 and 2-1 in overtime. Here are my thoughts and observations of these last two games. 

 - This might be Quinnipiac's most talented and deepest team since the 2016 National Runner Up team that lost to North Dakota. The Bobcats are deep up front with their top six having lots of skill and scoring ability. Even the Bobcats bottom two lines having scoring ability and toughness. While the defense doesn't feature one senior, it is a talented bunch that can score and defend. Throw in the fact that Keith Petruzzelli looks to have picked up right where he left off last season and this has the makings of a potentially very good Bobcats team. 

- The Bobcats looked great in game one winning 9-2 with nine different players scoring goals. They got off to a slow start in the first period but that has to be expected as they were working out the kinks before exploding in the second and third periods. However, I was more impressed with the win in game two though as they gutted out a 2-1 win in overtime. I thought Sacred Heart played really well in the second game and really took it to Quinnipiac at times especially in the second and third period. The Bobcats remained focused and didn't let going to overtime affect them as Wyatt Bongiovanni ended it 2:19 into the extra frame. Being able to win tight games is something that is needed to see what teams are made of. 

- Zach Metsa broke out as a sophomore last season and it looks like the junior defenseman could be in store for an even greater season. Metsa was strong with a five point series and had the secondary assist on the Bongiovanni game winner in overtime. He is a workhorse on the back end and should be able to help fill the void with the graduation of Karlis Cukste. 

- Skyler Brind'Amour and Odeen Tufto were both strong on the face-off dot against Sacred Heart. Brind'Amour won 24 of 34 face-offs while Tufto won 29 of 46. Having two good players on face-offs are big especially with the loss of William Fallstrom who was very good at it.

- It was only two games but you can tell that the power play for the Bobcats has the ability to be very good this season. They got tons of quality looks and while they only went 3 for 13 in the series you can just tell they have the talent and ability on the man advantage to get results more so this season.

- Ty Smilanic was held scoreless in the Quinnipiac rout but more than made up for it with his nifty goal in the second game. The goal was a thing of beauty with Smilanic featuring soft hands and great hand eye coordination and speed. He is a one of the Bobcats best players and should have a very good season once he gets his feet wet.

- Its always nice to get a player like senior Josh Mayanja some playing time. One of the top locker room and team guys the past four years he got to see some late action in the blowout win against Sacred Heart making three saves in five minutes. Its always nice to rewards players for being strong team players and Mayanja has been one of them in his four years with the program.

- Its nice to see Marcus Chorney chip in with his first two points of his career. After only playing 15 games in two seasons, the junior is expected to play a lot more this season and take on a bigger role to help anchor the Bobcats defense. He showed some nice ability down the stretch last year and it looks like it has carried into this season.

- It stinks that students, alumni and fans can't be in the building this season due to COVID-19 but the team will have full support behind them and hopefully by the 2021-2022 fans will be able to return to the People's United Center along with all sporting events. 

- Quinnipiac will play its toughest non-conference games this weekend when they host Bowling Green who already have seven games under their belt this season. Granted two of them were against Division III Adrian which do not count in the standings but this is a team looks to be in a groove right now. The only defeat for Bowling Green was at the hands of Mercyhurst back on December 5th. 

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