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Quinnipiac Recap

Quinnipiac lived up to their reputation as a defensive force and as a result got a 2-2 tie yesterday at the Mullins Center, despite the Minutemen outplaying them for long stretches in the middle of the game.  For most of the first period the Bobcats did an excellent job of getting in every passing lane and disrupting each rush by the Minutemen into their zone.  As a UMass only managed five shots in the opening period.  Luckily one of those shots resulted in a shorthanded goal by Conor Sheary, setup by an excellent play by Kevin Czepiel to gather the loose puck and center it for a skill assist.  That goal tied the game at one apiece after the Bobcats took an early lead just a few minutes into the game.

The Minutemen appeared to make some adjustments during the first intermission because they were able to move the puck and overcome the Bobcats’ stifling defense much better in the second.  However, they were still only able to get one goal during that period past Quinnipiac goaltender Eric Hartzell, despite 17 total shots.  Still Rocco Carzo’s power play goal gave the Minutemen the lead going into the final period.

However in the third period Quinnipiac would seize the momentum as they were able to clamp down on the UMass offense yet again.  They were able to translate that momentum into a tying goal when defensemen Mike Dalhuisen threw a puck to the net that somehow got in just under the crossbar.  From then on Quinnipiac surged while, yet again, the Minutemen faded.  By the time overtime started UMass looked very tired out there, reminiscent of earlier games where they lost late leads.  Luckily, the Bobcats were not able to find the back of the net in the extra frame, but it wasn’t for lack of trying as the puck rarely made it out of the UMass zone.

I guess a tie against a ranked team is a positive for this team, but it was tough not to walk out of the Mullins a little disappointed.  UMass showed in the second period that they were the better skilled team yet an inability to finish combined with what has become a familiar third period and overtime malaise prevented them from getting a nice signature out of conference win.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Kevin Czepiel
I thought Czepiel battling being aggressive on the penalty kill, taking the puck away from the Bobcats, and having the wherewithal to center the puck to Conor Sheary was the play of the game.  Therefore I’m giving him my player of the game as well.

The Republican dubs the game a “sloppy affair”.

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2 Comments

  1. Here’s a question, not related directly to the outcome of this particular game, but I think of import to hockey fans everywhere- Rocks talks about the Bobcats’ “stifling defense” – as a long time hockey fan (50+ years), not someone new to the game that talks about “soccer on ice”, is stifling defense a good thing?- Is there enough scoring in the game? It seems to me that goals are becoming rarer and rarer- after the UMASS game I went home to watch my Golden Gophers skate to a 3-1 (with an empty netter) win over UVM- and the Gophs are a supposed offensive powerhouse! Power plays don’t, to my eye, seem to confer much advantage. I guess I’d prefer 5-4 games to 2-1 games. – What do you all think- Am I nuts? Is there a problem in hockey with scoring? (Two possibly unrelated questions, I know!) And if you agree with me, what can be done?

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    • Obviously from the point of a casual spectator, low scoring games would be a problem. Casual fans are there to see goals. More hardcore fans will be able to appreciate other aspects of the game beyond just scoring, but they also don’t want to see less scoring. And I know we here a lot of people talk about how the trap or tougher defense is killing hockey, but I’m not sure the evidence suggests it really is. Just doing some quick and dirty (i.e. lazy) research, I pulled the goals scored for the 1st, 4th, and 8th place teams in Hockey East starting in 2000 and every year since. Here’s what I came up with (1st column being 1st place team, 2nd column being 4th place team, etc):

      2000 3.93 3.21 2.42
      2001 4.07 3.13 2.42
      2002 4.23 3.15 2.81
      2003 3.71 3.59 2.56
      2004 3.40 2.86 2.71
      2005 3.95 3.33 2.36
      2006 3.48 3.00 2.14
      2007 3.56 2.79 2.11
      2008 3.64 2.72 2.26
      2009 3.93 3.03 2.26
      2010 4.07 3.24 2.90
      2011 3.92 3.36 2.44
      2012 3.57 3.32 2.76

      To me I think the data shows that scoring is cyclical. There did appear to be a legitimate decreasing trend in scoring during the mid-2000s, but since then scoring has steadily increased among the top and bottom teams in Hockey East. I’m guessing this cyclical nature of the data has to do with teams employing new defensive strategies, offense over a couple of years is forced to adjust and make changes accordingly, and then the defense has to change as well. Lather, rinse, repeat. It seems like we may currently be in a downward swing and offenses are currently a step behind the defense. We’ll see if they can adjust.

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