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Quinnipiac Preview; KAEO Rick DeRosa

Quinnipiac Bobcats 7-6-2 (1-4-2) ECAC T-9th

vs

Massachusetts Minutemen 4-6-3 (2-6-3) Hockey East T-8th

Once again UMass will take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats of the ECAC in a post-Thanksgiving tilt. Previous matchups have resulted in some pretty exciting games, such as the epic 5-4 overtime game in 2009 where UMass came back from a 3-0 deficit only to fall in the extra frame. Last year’s win over the Bobcats by the Minutemen could be considered the best win of the season that saw very few of them.

Quinnipiac has done a very good job against their non-conference opponents thus far. They’ve gone 6-2-0 against non-ECAC teams including a win at Ohio State. They also beat Bentley and Holy Cross by similar margins as UMass when they faced those two Atlantic Hockey teams. Against league teams they’ve struggled though, gaining just one league win so far, against Princeton on the first day of the month. That’s also the last time they’ve won a game, going 0-4-2 recently.

Statistically, the team looks very good. Their 3.20 goals per game puts them in the top third of college hockey teams. Junior Jeremy Langlois is far and away their best player on the team, scoring 10 goals so far on the season. No one else on the Bobcat team has more than four. Connor Jones has helped get Langlois the puck on many of those goals, putting up 11 assists to go with four goals. Sophomore Kellen Jones and freshman Matthew Peca round out the other top offensive players. Despite having a healthy offense, Quinnipiac is only converting at a rate of 16% on the power play.

The Bobcats have also been strong on defense, allowing just 2.07 goals per game. They’ve done so with a goaltender rotation of senior Dan Clarke and junior Eric Hartzell. Clarke has the better record at 5-3-0 versus Hartzell’s 2-3-2, but Hartzell has the edge in goals against average with 2.06 versus 2.20. Both goaltenders faced the Minutemen last season with Hartzell getting the start but being lifted after the first period giving up 2 goals on 7 shots. In relief Clarke came in and gave up 3 goals on 13 shots. They’ll be helped out by defensemen Loren Barron and Mike Dalhuisen. The Bobcat penalty kill is a respectable 86.4%.

UMass now has three non-conference games against ECAC foes to try to recapture what was working for them when they won three in a row at the beginning of the month. Since then they’ve completely lost what was working for them offensively. In the last three games UMass has averaged only 20 shots per game and have gone a dreadful 0 for 16 on the power play. As a team UMass must get back to the basics. Even strength it’s about maintaining puck possession and peppering the opposing goaltender. On the extra man they have to get back to executing better passing and try to move the puck from the corners in instead of having everything coming from the point.

That’s what UMass has to do as a team. Individually it’ll be interesting to see how a couple players perform tomorrow in Connecticut. Mike Pereira was controversially a healthy scratch for Tuesday’s game in Vermont for not doing enough on defense. Personally I would not be surprised to see Pereira have a huge game tomorrow. He’s seems the type who will be motivated by the coaching staff’s decisions plus this game will be played not far from where he grew up in Connecticut and he’ll likely have a good number of friends and family in the stands. Adam Phillips also sat for the UVM game. With him it’s not so much as getting back on track, but getting going at all. Fans had high hopes for him after last season where he had 10 goals, 5 of which coming on the power play. So far this year he has only scored one even strength goal and is last among the regular defensemen in plus/minus rating with –2. It’d be great to see Phillips have a breakout game tomorrow.

These non-conference games are the perfect time to tweak things and get the offense back to where it needs to be so the team can hit the ground running when January starts. It’s also a great opportunity to build back some confidence and poise which has been completely lacking in the last couple weeks. For all the worrying about goaltending, it has actually been decent as of late with UMass goalies giving up just two goals per game in five of the last six games. Now it’s time to get them some goal support.

Beer The Triangle
Last time we went to Quinnipiac the BTT selection was one of the Southport Brewing locations that are found in that area on Connecticut. The mediocre beer had during the visit has left me looking for other alternatives. When speaking to one of the hockey parents earlier this season they suggested, if memory serves, the Side Street Grille which looks like a good, pub type place. However I think the first place to check out before the game will end up being Mikro, a craft beer bar right in Hamden. I see a few favorites on the list like the Dogfish Burton Baton and Rodenbach Grand Cru.

– OK, looks like Mikro opens at 4, so that’ll be a place to hit on the way out of town.

Dick Baker of the Republican has a lengthy piece examining UMass’ road woes in recent seasons.

According to this article UMass has shown interest in Rick DeRosa out of the NAHL along with a number of other schools from various conferences.

Seems to have some good moves:

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3 Comments

  1. George

     /  November 25, 2011

    Not much to argue with on the Dick Baker piece

    Like

  2. George

     /  November 26, 2011

    Then you haven’t watched the team of speed play at Providence or Merrimack lately then.

    Like

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