Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Thought's and Observations from Quinnipiac's North Country struggles against Clarkson

Peter Diliberatore scored the shootout winning goal Friday against Clarkson

It was a weekend of struggles for the Quinnipiac Bobcats especially on the offensive end as they only scored four goals in three games this past weekend. The teams skated to two ties on Friday and Saturday with each team splitting the extra point with shootout wins. On Sunday it was all Clarkson as the Golden Knights erased a 1-0 Quinnipiac lead with four unanswered goals until the Bobcats scored in the third period. Thankfully this is the last three game stretch for Quinnipiac the rest of the season as they now play the traditional Friday-Saturday games except they will play the same opponent. Here are my thoughts and observations from the weekend that wasn't for the Bobcats.

- Quinnipiac had a chance to put some distance between themselves and Clarkson for the league regular season title but squandered on that chance especially Saturday when Quinnipiac had a late third period lead and probably should have won the game outright. Now the teams are tied and should they finish tied it will probably come down to a wacky tie breaker as the teams finished 2-2-2 against each other this season. 

- These two teams definitely don't seem to like each other this year but that is to be expected when they are the two best teams in the league and they just played two three game series over the past three weeks. There was lots of penalties and physicality and it seemed Quinnipiac's Peter Diliberatore was at the center of a lot of those encounters. It only makes sense these teams meet a 7th and final time for the ECAC Tournament Championship.

- Quinnipiac needs more younger scoring from its freshman and sophomores. It cannot be just Ty Smilanic who carries the load. Some of these other young guys need to up their scoring including Skyler Brind'Amour, Ethan Leyh, Christophe Fillion and others. The Bobcats cannot just rely on their top guys to consistently come through for scoring because there are going to be times where those guys are held down especially this past weekend when Odeen Tufto only had one assist in three games. Clarkson did a good job taking away Tufto from this series after he had five points in the three games in Hamden just a few weeks ago. 

- The undisciplined play by the Bobcats has to stop. They had 21 penalties in the three games including a boarding major to Iivari Rasanen. These penalties led to two power play goals by Clarkson on Sunday which was the difference in the game. If these penalties totals continue, it is going to be hard for Quinnipiac to win games against opponents like Clarkson in the playoffs. 

- Keith Petruzzelli's shutout streak was ended just 2:44 into Friday's game against Clarkson. The senior has continued his outstanding season for the Bobcats and should win the goaltender of the year if he continues his stellar play.

- Speaking of goaltenders, Quinnipiac brought in a 4th goaltender in Yaniv Perets from Penticton in the BCHL. He was slatted to come in next fall but with the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility it probably made sense to get him in now to prepare him for the rigors of the college game and to push backup goaltender Evan Fear. 

- Junior Zach Metsa is quietly putting together a great offensive season from the blue line. Already he has tied his point total from a season ago (17) in essentially half the amount of games played. He has been a real good power play man and has been solid in his own defensive zone. He is just another example of a player who has gotten better each year under Rand Pecknold. 

- The Bobcats were supposed to be off this weekend but added a game against first year program Long Island University. These two teams were suppose to meet earlier this season but it got cancelled due to COVID reasons. However with the Bobcats not having any scheduled games this weekend, it was a nice add on game to keep the team on the grind before they finish the ECAC season with eight games against Colgate and St. Lawrence. 

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Thought's and Observations from Quinnipiac's weekend sweep of Colgate

Keith Petruzzelli shut out Colgate twice en route to ECAC Player & Goaltender of the Week

It was another good weekend for Quinnipiac hockey as the Bobcats swept the Colgate Raiders in a home and home series shutting out the Colgate 3-0 in both games starting Friday in Hamilton followed by a Sunday game back in Hamden. Quinnipiac is now on its second four game winning streak of the season and has a record of 10-4-1 along with sitting in first place in the ECAC by three points. Here are my thoughts and observations from this past weekend.

- The star of the weekend was Keith Petruzzelli who has now recorded three straight shutouts and has four on the season. The senior won the ECAC player and goaltender of the week award after his stellar weekend when he made 38 saves in the two games. Petruzzelli has definitely saved his best season for his last. 

- The Quinnipiac defense cannot be overlooked as they definitely have played a key role in three straight shutouts. They are definitely starting to gel and it seems like a lot of this came to happen once Jayden Lee settled in after missing first part of the season. 

- Ty Smilanic is a such a great player to watch in a Bobcats uniform. He's easily the most talented player in program history and his play on the ice is showing that. Smilanic leads the team with 10 goals with three of them of game winning variety. His snipe of a goal against Colgate on Sunday was a thing of beauty. Let's hope he sticks around the Bobcats program for a couple of seasons. 

- The fact that Desi Burgart has stepped up offensively especially in the wake of the Wyatt Bongiovanni has been huge. The junior already 10 points this season and is just two points behind his total point production in his first two seasons. Secondary scoring for the Bobcats is important and Burgart has given them just that. 

- The Bobcats who usually are very good on face-offs struggled this weekend losing the face-off battle on Friday before edging out the Raiders 26-24 on Sunday. That is an area the Bobcats need to be better at especially when they play stronger teams. 

- Three more assists this past weekend for Odeen Tufto who continues to pad his national scoring lead with 27 points, 8 more Brandon Kruse and Cameron Wright of Bowling Green. He has nine multi-point games this season and has only been held scoreless in one of the Bobcats games this season. I'd love to see the goal totals increase but his continued play should make him one of the Hobey Baker favorites this season. 

- More than halfway through the regular season, you can start to get a read on some of these teams in the ECAC. Quinnipiac is probably the best team right now as they have scored the most goals and have given up just a shade over two goals per game. St. Lawrence looks improved on defense but they are still having scoring issues. Clarkson can score but there goal differential is only a plus eight. Colgate has shown they are competitive but they struggle to score goals and they have a goal differential of minus eight. With 11 games to go this will be a dogfight between Quinnipiac, Clarkson and St. Lawrence for the regular season title. 

- Big weekend on tap for Quinnipiac as they head to North Country for a three game slate against Clarkson. Two weeks ago the Bobcats took two of three against the Golden Knights in a hard fought well played series. Lets hope we get more of the same this weekend. After this weekend the Bobcats will only have to play St. Lawrence and Colgate the rest of the way before the ECAC Tournament.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Thoughts & Observations from Quinnipiac's weekend series with Clarkson

Desi Burgart's overtime winner gave Quinnipiac a win in Game 2

Quinnipiac entered into the second weekend of the league year coming off a disappointment the previous weekend against St. Lawrence which resulted in a tie and a loss. Quinnipiac welcome fellow North Country foe Clarkson for a three game series in Hamden. Friday night saw Clarkson race to three first period goals before Quinnipiac rallied from 4-2 down to force overtime before a Zach Tsekos goal gave the Golden Knights the 5-4 win. Saturday saw Quinnipiac once again trail early as Clarkson scored twice in the first and then held a 3-1 lead into the third period before Desi Burgart and Ethan de Jong goals tied the game at three and send the game to overtime for the second consecutive night. Desi Burgart gave the Bobcats a reason to celebrate with his seventh goal of the season 2:29 into the extra frame to give Quinnipiac a come from behind win. The rubber match on Sunday was a duel of goaltenders Keith Petruzzelli and Ethan Haider as the Bobcats came out on top 1-0 on a first period Ty Smilanic goal. The shutout was the second of the season for Petruzzelli who made 28 saves in the winning effort. Here are my thoughts and observations from the weekend slate.

- The Bobcats starts are definitely a concern as they have allowed their opponents to take first period leads in five of the past six games dating back to the second AIC game. The Bobcats need to be a team that plays from in front as its usually a recipe for disaster if they are constantly playing from behind and playing catch up. Stronger starts are needed especially if the Bobcats want to make the NCAA tournament this season. 

- Odeen Tufto continues to put an impressive senior season for Quinnipiac. He had another five points in the weekend series against Clarkson, all assists and continues to hold the national scoring lead with 24 points this season. He has a six point lead over Bobby Trivigno of UMass and Matthew Kopperud of Arizona State. As long as he stays on pace and avoids any injury or prolonged slump he should win the ECAC player of the year and likely be a Hobey Baker Finalist and possibly into the top three for the Hobey Baker award. 

- Ty Smilanic's eight goals lead the Bobcats and his lone goal on Sunday gave the Bobcats the rubber match against Clarkson. With 11 points this season, Smilanic will be in the conversation for the ECAC rookie of the year and his biggest competition is Alex Campbell of Clarkson who leads all freshman ECAC scorers with 15 points. 

- There were definitely some defensive issues in Friday and Saturday's games that need to be corrected going forward as there have been too many defensive zone turnovers that have lead to opposing goals. Keith Petruzzelli only can do so much in net as the defense needs to cut down on the turnovers and move the puck out of the zone much cleaner than what we have seen.

- Keith Petruzzelli was stellar a 28 save shutout performance on Sunday and probably kept Quinnipiac in the games Friday night and Saturday when Clarkson was strong early on. He's been the Bobcats rock on defense as Quinnipiac looks to continue to see improvement in its defensive core. I am not sure where this team would be without Petruzzelli in net as its likely possible they don't have the record they do with another goaltender in net. 

- Freshman Christophe Fillion has given the Bobcats some nice play especially since he jumped from juniors to the Quinnipiac right before the season. He has been a consistent presence in the Bobcats lineup since the second Bowling Green game and scored his first collegiate goal on Friday against Clarkson. He brings an element of good speed and the ability to chip in offensively.  

- Jayden Lee has really stepped up offensively from the back end since his return to the lineup in the AIC series. In just seven games this season he has five points and already surpassed his point total production in the 27 games he played a season ago. He brings a really nice offensive element from the blue line.

- Quinnipiac has a home and home with Colgate this weekend as they head to Hamilton Friday night with a return trip on Sunday in Hamden. The Raiders have played eight games this season and only one was a non ECAC opponent in RIT. They did play Clarkson twice as a non-conference opponent but they have not been challenged outside of the RIT which they played to a 4-4 tie. 

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Monday, January 4, 2021

Thoughts and Observations from Quinnipiac's ECAC Opening Weekend

Odeen Tufto leads the NCAA in scoring with 19 points

The Quinnipiac Bobcats opened ECAC play with a home and home series with St. Lawrence that started on New Year's Eve in North Country and concluded that Sunday in Hamden. The teams tied on Thursday after the Bobcats rallied on a Ty Smilanic goal with less than three minutes to play and took the extra point with a Odeen Tufto shootout win. Quinnipiac wasn't as lucky in the second game of the home and home as St. Lawrence took control with two first period goals before closing out the game with two empty net goals. Here are my thoughts and observations from this weekends series.

- It was a really poor effort by Quinnipiac against a team that won a total of four games last season and only 18 over the past three years. The Bobcats played from behind in both games and really couldn't find a rhythm this weekend. They honestly stole two points this weekend when their effort just wasn't good enough. Quinnipiac has talent but they need to bring an effort for 60 minutes each game because you can't win on just talent alone.

- Give St. Lawrence credit for the way they played this weekend. They have 11 freshman on the roster and 18 underclassmen and had not played a single game up until this series. They outplayed and outworked Quinnipiac and had the Bobcats on their heels during these two games and won their first game in Hamden since 2014. While they are still lacking high end talent, they should be much more competitive this season than the previous three.

- The injury to Wyatt Bongiovanni definitely has an effect on how the Bobcats played this weekend. Bongiovanni is a true goal scorer and someone that is not easily replaced in the lineup. He is a power play threat and plays in many situations for the Bobcats and those are things that are tough to replicate with other players. Whether they get Bongiovanni back this season remains to be seen but his injury is a big loss for Quinnipiac. 

- Odeen Tufto had a four point weekend and picked a good time to lead the NCAA in scoring as his play will needed even more now with the injury to Bongiovanni. Tufto has 19 points and is averaging 1.9 points per game. He is definitely going to be in the conversation for the Hobey Baker award when the season comes to a close. His goal in the shootout also allowed Quinnipiac to pick up an extra point.

- Ty Smilanic is settling in well to college hockey. After only a single goal in his first four games, he has seven points in his last six games and should be in the conversation for the ECAC rookie of the year at seasons end. With the Bongiovanni injury, he is going to have to probably take on more responsibility for providing the offense. He looks to be someone that should be up for that challenge. 

- The injury to Bongiovanni is definitely showing up on the power play as the Bobcats only went 1 for 10 this past weekend and that lone power play goal was with an extra attacker as well. The team is still in the top ten in the country for the power play but lets see if that changes a bit with the injury to Bongiovanni. 

- Quinnipiac has a big test with a three game series at home starting Friday against Clarkson who is 6-3-1 on the season. Clarkson has won the past three games against Quinnipiac and four of their last five against the,. The Golden Knights have some skill up front but the back end while talented with some draft picks on defense and in goal has struggled a bit this season especially the two goaltenders. This series could tell us a lot of what we may expect from Quinnipiac the rest of the season. They need to bring their A game against a top ten opponent who has really played well against them over the past five plus seasons.

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