Monday, November 15, 2021

Thoughts and Observations from Quinnipiac's sweep of Arizona State

Quinnipiac swept Arizona State in two games this past weekend

Quinnipiac went into the weekend facing off against a high power offense in the Arizona State Sun Devils. The last time these two teams met back in the 2019-2020, Arizona State swept the Bobcats in the desert by scores of 5-3 and 4-1. It was only appropriate that Quinnipiac returned the favor this weekend and they did by having an offensive explosion scoring ten goals total in the two wins. This type of scoring has been few and far between this season. Maybe this was the weekend in which the Quinnipiac offense starts to put it together and now continues to build off this weekend as they head into the final stretch of games here in the first half of the season. Here are my thoughts and observations from the weekend.

- Lets start with my disastrous take on Friday night after Arizona State scored its third goal. I said I would be shocked if the Bobcats mounted a comeback because they have don't a big time offense that can score at will. I think up to that point you could question that, especially over the prior four games where they really struggled offensively scoring only eight goals total against some weaker opponents. Arizona State came in as one of the top offensive and power play teams in the country with some really skilled players. What I didn't expect was for Arizona State to start to lose steam in the second period and for Quinnipiac to continue to get stronger as the game on. The physical toll wore on Arizona State and the Bobcats made them pay with five unanswered goals. I have no problem eating crow and even having the team account having some fun at my expense.

-  This sweep was just massive for Quinnipiac for pairwise reasons. I know people think its early in the season still but wins like these will help later in the season. Just ask the 2016-17 or 2019-2020 teams. A couple early season losses against non-conference teams flipped to wins and those two teams are NCAA tournament teams. Note the 2019-2020 season was ended by the pandemic but Quinnipiac was still past the pairwise cut line. The Bobcats sweep pushed them to 7th in the pairwise. Had they split they would have been 12th. Had Arizona State swept they would have fell to 24th. The comeback Friday will prove big in the long run and there is no denying that.

- It is looking like the Quinnipiac power play could be turning a corner. They went 3 of 10 on the weekend with goals by Ty Smilanic, Michael Lombardi and Oliver Chau. I still think there is too much passing and not enough shots on goal along with traffic in front. I also think you need to take the fact that Arizona State is not a disciplined hockey team. They take way too many penalties and that costs a team like that in the long run. 

- One of the big things that won Quinnipiac the game on Friday was their conditioning. They are probably in the top five of top conditioned teams in the country and it showed against Arizona State as they rallied from a three goal deficit only to continue to get stronger as the game went along. That is impressive to say the least and strength coach Brijesh Patel should get a ton of credit working with these players. 

- It will be interesting to see how long the goaltender split will continue for Quinnipiac. I think Yaniv Perets has outplayed transfer Dylan St. Cyr with the eye test and frankly on the stat sheet. I am to the belief that there comes a point in the season where you need to ride one of the two goaltenders especially down the stretch. 

- Brendan Less was out of the lineup on Saturday due to an injury. Less has been a very consistent player on the back end for Quinnipiac. If there is any silver lining, its that Quinnipiac has the depth on defense this year to sustain an injury on the back end. In other years they may not but the Bobcats go at least nine deep and that doesn't include freshman Jack Babbage who has yet to see game action.

- Saturday saw the season debut of Chrtistophe Fillion who missed the first 11 games of the season. He immediately contributed with an assist on the Michael Lombardi power play goal. Fillion is expected to be a solid contributor especially after an 11 point campaign in his freshman season. He should be a boost to the lineup for the Bobcats going forward.

- Quinnipiac plays the next four games in league play with the North Country teams coming to Hamden this upcoming weekend followed by a road trip to the New York Capital region the following weekend to play RPI and Union. Friday night will see Quinnipiac play Clarkson in a match up with two of the top teams in the ECAC. The following night I expect to see Quinnipiac with some revenge in their eyes against St. Lawrence who won the Whitelaw Cup on the Bobcats home ice last March.

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