Monday, October 11, 2021

Thoughts and Observations from the Ice Breaker Tournament

Michael Lombardi had a goal and an assist in the tournament

The 2021-2022 officially kicked off and for the Quinnipiac Bobcats they started the season off on a good note. Playing in the Ice Breaker Tournament at DCU Center in Worcester, MA, Quinnipiac went 1-0-1 on the weekend to finish in second place in the tournament behind Boston College. Friday night saw Quinnipiac rally from a two goal deficit to earn a tie with Boston College though the Eagles took the shootout which was for tournament purposes only. Saturday night saw the Bobcats race to 3-0 lead after two periods and used a suffocating defensive performance to shut out the Northeastern Huskies behind a 19 save effort from sophomore Yaniv Perets. Here are some of my thoughts from the opening weekend.

- You couldn't have asked for a better start to the season other than starting with two wins. But a tie and a win against two top 20 opponents is nothing to sneeze about. Boston College is a top 10 team with loads of talent while Northeastern is in the top 20 with solid talent and coaching. While the effort against Boston College wasn't great in the opening period plus, give credit to Quinnipiac who fought back from two goals down to force a tie. The effort against Northeastern was outstanding which saw a wire to wire win and in pretty dominating fashion too. I thought Quinnipiac controlled the game from the start and really never let their foot off the gas. It was one of the more complete performances they played in a long time against a really solid team.

- With the loss of Peter Diliberatore on defense there was some questions in my mind who would step up and fill those shoes on the defensive end outside of Zach Metsa and some of the other returning players on defense. I thought the defense was very solid in their own end this weekend especially in the second the half of the Boston College game and all throughout the Northeastern game. They were downright suffocating at times. Graduate transfers Tony Stillwell (Brown), Brendan Less (Dartmouth) and Griffin Mendel (Denver) slide right in like they had been with the program for the past few years. The Bobcats have a lot of depth on defense and they didn't even suit up players like Nick Bochen or CJ McGee who gave the Bobcats a lot of games played last season. While the questions remain about offensive production from this group so far they are sound in their own end which is the most important thing.

- Last season was suppose to be a step forward for Skyler Brind'Amour but his production dipped from his freshman season. Part of that could have been due to the pandemic but more was expected from the Edmonton Oilers draft pick. So it was great to see Brind'Amour have a strong weekend with a goal and two assists and a plus three rating. His weekend was worthy of being named to the All-Tournament team for the Ice Breaker along with being named the ECAC player of the week. A breakout season for Brind'Amour will go a long way to help replacing the production of Odeen Tufto.

- Speaking of the All-Tournament team. Two other Bobcats joined Brind'Amour on the squad as TJ Friedmann (2 goals) was named the tournament MVP while Yaniv Perets (1-0-1, 0.96 goals against, 1 shutout) earned tournament honors. Players like Michael Lombardi and Ty Smilanic had good tournaments as well but missed out on the all-tournament team.

- I was really impressed by Yaniv Perets this weekend. The sophomore goaltender only played in two games last season in relief of starter Keith Petruzzelli so not much was known about the Quebec native. With graduate transfer Dylan St. Cyr on the shelf with an injury, Perets more than was up to the task for the Bobcats. He struggled a bit with rebounds in the Boston College game which led to both goals but settled in and became more comfortable late. Against Northeastern he was very solid in goal but a lot of that was due to the defense as well as he only faced 19 shots.

- If there was any area that Quinnipiac struggled with on the weekend it was the power play. They went a combined 0 for 7 on the weekend and that includes having two five minute power plays each game. The power play was not very good and they didn't get a ton of good chances on the weekend. With the talent they have that should improve but it was kind of worrisome to see.

- While the power play was not good, the penalty kill was. The Bobcats killed off all six of their opponents power play opportunities on the weekend. Quinnipiac is usually a very good team at killing penalties so getting off to a good start on the penalty kill is a good thing to see.

- Quinnipiac will play just a lone game this weekend on the road against Vermont who is 0-2 on the season. The Catamounts are in the second season of a rebuild under head coach Todd Woodcroft. In a COVID plagued season a year ago, Vermont went 1-10-2 but has added some quality young talent that should help improve the program in the next couple of seasons. After this weekend, Quinnipiac will return home in front of a home crowd when they host a weekend series against national power North Dakota.

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Friday, October 8, 2021

2021-2022 Quinnipiac Season Preview

Wyatt Bongiovanni will captain the Bobcats in 2021-2022

The 2021-2022 season is upon us and the Quinnipiac Bobcats are fresh off their fifth ECAC regular season title in program history and the seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament in the Division I era. After losing 4-3 in overtime to eventual Frozen Four team Minnesota State, the Bobcats suffered some big losses with the graduation of forward Odeen Tufto and goaltender Keith Petruzzelli along with the early departure of defenseman Peter Diliberatore to the Vegas Golden Knights. They also lost associate coach Bill Riga who took the head coaching position at Holy Cross. He has been replaced by former Alabama Huntsville head coach Mike Corbett. Quinnipiac returns a good amount of talent and added five graduate transfers to boost the depth of the roster.

The Bobcats open the season as the ECAC preseason favorite in the coaches poll edging out Clarkson for the top spot. However in the media poll, the Bobcats slide in at third just behind Clarkson and Harvard. They also open the season ranked 9th in the USCHO poll. With fans back in the building for the first time since the 2019-2020 season, this should give the program a boost. The Bobcats playing a challenging non-conference schedule this season with Boston College, Northeastern, North Dakota and Arizona State just some of the teams that highlight the Quinnipiac schedule. It is time to take a look at how the Quinnipiac roster shapes up for the 2021-2022 campaign.

Forward

For the first time in four years, Quinnipiac will not have Odeen Tufto suiting up for them. 168 career points is always tough to replace but there is no better player that can pick up the production than sophomore Ty Smilanic. The second year player is coming off a 14 goal, 21 point season in 29 games for the Bobcats and the expectation is that the production will increase. Newly named captain Wyatt Bongiovanni only played in nine games due to a knee injury but put up 8 points in those games. When healthy he is a double digit goal scorer and someone you can count on to have 25-30 points. Senior Ethan de Jong had 29 points a season ago and is one of the top goal scorers on the team returning. One player that will help replace Tufto's production is graduate transfer Oliver Chau who comes from National Champion UMass to Hamden. He is a play maker up front who had 84 points in 135 games with the Minutemen. Other players that are expected to pick up the load are Desi Burgart, Ethan Leyh, Skyler Brind'Amour, Guus van Nes, Christophe Fillion, Joey Cipollone and Michael Lombardi. Freshman Jacob Quillan, Christophe Tellier and Liam McLinskey should compete for game action. 

Defense

Quinnipiac lost a big defensive piece in Peter Diliberatore who left after his junior season to sign with the Vegas Golden Knights. Senior Zach Metsa will lead the defense this season as he is coming off a career year with 26 points in 29 games. However after Metsa there is not a ton of offensive production from the blue line. The Bobcats will need players like Jayden Lee, Nick Bochen and Iivari Rasanen to take bigger steps offensively to bring much needed production from the back end. Quinnipiac has a ton of depth on the blue line with Marcus Chorney, swing player TJ Friedmann who can also play forward and CJ McGee. They added to that depth with graduate transfers Griffin Mendel (Denver), Tony Stillwell (Brown) and Brandon Less (Dartmouth). Neither Stillwell or Less have played a game in over a year as the Ivy League schools didn't play last year. Skilled freshman Jack Babbage rounds out the defensive unit. Babbage is a player that might be able to give the Bobcats point production from the blue line as he had 29 points a season ago for Chicago in the USHL. This is clearly a veteran defensive group for Quinnipiac but how much offensive production they get from them is still yet an unknown.

Goaltending

For the first time in over a decade the Bobcats go into a season with some questions at the goaltender position. The only returner on the roster is sophomore Yaniv Perets who played in just two games a season ago in relief of the now departed Keith Petruzzelli. Joining Perets will be graduate transfer Dylan St. Cyr who most recently played for Notre Dame. In 22 games last season for the Fighting Irish, St. Cyr was 11-9-1 with a 2.44 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. Prior to that he had only played 11 games in three years for the Irish. The son of former Canada women's national ice hockey team goaltender Manon Rhéaume, St. Cyr is an undersized goaltender at 5'8, 170 pounds, not the prototypical Bobcats goaltender which is usually over 6'1. Rounding out the goaltender room is 6'7 freshman Noah Altman. The starting position will be a battle between Perets and St. Cyr and it would not surprise me to see head coach Rand Pecknold play both early in the season to see which one can seize the job.

2021-2022 Outlook

Expect Quinnipiac to be a team that finishes in the top three in the ECAC to compete for both the Cleary Cup and a Whitelaw Cup Championship. While the goaltender situation is probably somewhat of a question mark at this point, there is enough talent on the roster to get back to the NCAA tournament and the Bobcats should be tested more this season than they were a year ago when they played a rotation of three other ECAC teams and a pretty weak non-conference slate. This should help prepare the team in the stretch run of February and March as they look to return to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season.

 

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Forward Mason Marcellus commits to Quinnipiac

Mason Marcellus during his time with Drayton Valley Thunder

The Quinnipiac Bobcats picked up their third future commitment since August when 2002 born forward Mason Marcellus committed to the program via an Instagram post this week. Marcellus, a native of Greely, Ontario, Canada is a 5'9, 170 pound left shot forward who primarily plays the center position. The USHL news release goes a lot more into Marcellus commitment to the program.

A skilled offensive player, Marcellus was over a point per game player in a shortened season for the Drayton Valley Thunder of the Alberta Junior Hockey League where he had 22 points in 16 games (6 goals, 16 assists). This season, Marcellus is playing for the Lincoln Stars in the USHL before coming to Hamden likely for the 2022-2023 season. 

Links

EliteProspects Player Page

USHL Player Page

 

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