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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