#18 Quinnipiac Bobcats 8-3-1 (4-0-0) 2nd ECAC
Massachusetts Minutemen 4-5-1 (3-5-1) T-5th Hockey East
The Massachusetts hockey team will play just their second non-conference game of the year later today. After running a gauntlet of early season games against top Hockey East foes like Boston College, Boston University, and New Hampshire today they’ll take on one of the best so far from the ECAC, the #18 Quinnipiac Bobcats. It’ll be a welcome break from league games for the Minutemen, but also a chance to see how they stack up against other conferences.
The Bobcats are undefeated within their own conference so far, a perfect 4-0-0. But out of conference it’s been a little different. They have some key wins, including road victories over Maine and Providence. But they somehow also dropped a game to AIC at home. They also dropped a game to Colgate in a matchup that did not count in the ECAC standings. Still, the wins they have accumulated is enough for them to gain a ranking in the most recent USCHO poll.
The Bobcats have gotten the job done with defense so far this season. The 1.75 goals they’ve given up per game is 3rd lowest in the country. So is their 94.3% penalty kill. They’ve only given up more than two goals in two of their dozen games this season. Goaltender Eric Hartzell has been a big reason for their defensive dominance. So far he has a goals against average of 1.53 and a save percentage of .927. Against UMass he’s had mixed success. Last year he only gave up two goals to the Minutemen in a 5-2 Bobcat win. The previous year in Amherst he only lasted one period, pulled after two goals in the 5-2 UMass win.
Offensively the Bobcats are scoring 2.67 goals per game, pretty much the same as UMass. Unlike the Minutemen they’ve struggled on the power play however, converting on just 15.5% of their chances. What’s more interesting though is that they’ve given up four shorthanded goals, second most in the country. The Minutemen will have to focus most of their attention on senior forward Jeremy Langlois who leads the team with six goals and 11 points. Fellow senior forward Russell Goodman has also played well, scoring four goals including three game winners for the Bobcats.
For UMass they’ll have to shake off the turkey hangover and make sure they’re ready to play. Last Sunday they learned the hard way what happens when you’re not mentally prepared to play hockey. They’ll also have to generate their own energy and motivation as it’s likely going to a smaller and quieter crowd at the Mullins Center for this holiday weekend game. I think the game will come down to special teams. UMass will have to make sure to keep Quinnipiac’s power play off the board and in general keep them to just a goal or two. At the same time the Minuteman power play will have to find a to score with the extra man. They’ve already done so against teams with equally successful penalty kills like UNH and BC. Hopefully they can find a way to do it again.
Beer The Triangle
The Hangar had a special “Black Wednesday” earlier this week where some top notch stouts and porters from across the country filled all the taps. They included the likes of Wormtown Norm, Founders Breakfast Stout, and Sierra Nevada Narwhal. Those are some leftovers I can look forward to.
The Republican preview says today will be a clash of styles.