When the Huskies travel to Hamden, CT this week to face ECAC power Quinnipiac they’ll be facing a team they are quite familiar with. You see, the Huskies and Bobcats have faced off against each other seven times since the 2009-10 season. Undoubtedly, the most memorable of those contests was on Thursday, April 14, 2013 in the semifinals of the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, PA. It’s also a game most SCSU fans would prefer to erase from their memory. The #1 seeded Bobcats scored three goals in the first 11:19 of period one and never looked back in the 4-1 win to advance to the NCAA Final vs Yale.
The teams have faced each other twice since then splitting a series in St. Cloud last January. The Huskies took the Friday night contest 3-2 and the Bobcats won the rematch by a 4-1 score. The Huskies lead the overall series 4-3. The Huskies return to Hamden with a 4-0-0 record to face a team with an identical record and similar recent results. In their most recent contests, SCSU blanked Minnesota State University Mankato by scores of 4-0 and 3-0 while the Bobcats shut out Maine 4-0 and upstart Arizona State by a 5-0 score.
Both squads enter the 2015-16 season looking to replace key departed players. Quinnipiac lost two outstanding leaders in Matthew Peca and Dan Federico to graduation. Pecca was a dynamic two-way player and although he was not known for his goal scoring still put up 42 goals and 101 assists for 143 points in 157 games. Federico was another solid defensive player and team leader that logged a lot of ice time. The Huskies lost a prolific goal scorer, Jonny Brodzinski (64-48-112) to the NHL and his ability to score goals in key situations will be difficult to replace. On defense, the loss of Andrew Prochno and Tim Daly, who ate up large chunks of minutes will be missed as well.
The Bobcat’s program is used to success evidenced by earning 20 wins in 13 of their 16 Division I seasons. They’ve also won the ECAC’s Cleary Cup two of the past three seasons. The program’s expectations are to win and they’ve done so with a strong pipeline to the BCHL and dedicated recruiting for players that fit their culture. QU will be relying on returning goaltender, Michael Garteig to continue his consistent play in net. He posted a 2.03 GAA and .917 SV% last season and after four games so far this season has a 1.25 GAA and .932 SV%. At forward, they have one of the top players in the country in Sam Anas, who netted 23 goals and added 16 assists last season. He’s started this season well with 3-3-6 in four games. Travis St. Denis is another forward with offensive abilities posting 15-18-33 in 2014-15 and sophomore Landon Smith was a 15 goal scorer his freshman year.
The Huskies success so far is defined by the outstanding play of junior goaltender, Charlie Lindgren. After three games it would be impossible to improve on his numbers: 3-0-0, three consecutive shutouts, 0.00 GAA and 1.00 SV%. However, he is receiving strong defensive help from senior, Ethan Prow, sophomore Nathan Widman and a strong trio of first-year defensemen that have exceeded everyone’s expectations so early in the season. Will Borgen, Jon Lizotte and Jimmy Schult have been composed, reliable and steady in their play back at the point and are a combined +9 in plus/minus. Sophomore forward Patrick Russell has exploded out of the gate offensively this season with 6 points in four games and +5 rating. Seniors Kalle Kossila, David Morley, Jimmy Murray and Joey Benik have all been major contributors to the offense combining for 16 points and a +12 rating. On the flip side, although the points aren’t there first-year forwards Patrick Newell, Mikey Eissymont, Jacob Benson and Robby Jackson have been impressive. Jackson leads this crew with 3 goals in 3 games and is +3.
The Huskies practiced on a small rink this week in preparation for the 200 x 85 dimensions of High Point Solutions Arena. It’ll be an adjustment considering the Bobcats tend to tighten things up by clogging the blue line defensively. Expect to see more puck dumping by the Huskies and a strong forecheck as they try to deal with the Bobcat’s typical defensive strategy. This is another key series for Pairwise points and should feature two evenly matched teams with strong goaltending. Quinnipiac likes to throw the puck on net so expect to see a busy Charlie Lindgren this weekend. Senior and Captain Ethan Prow will not be making the trip due to injury and that certainly places more pressure on the young defensive corps of the Huskies. They’ll also have to insert some different personnel on the power play and penalty kill as Prow was a key component of their special teams. Finally, don’t be surprised to see first-year player Mikey Eissymont moved from center to wing on a line with Patrick Russell and Kalle Kossila.
This is a significant early season matchup for the Huskies. Enjoy the games.
All the pertinent links for this weekends games can be found HERE