Brosh’s Breakdown: Rivalry on Ice

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Brosh’s Breakdown: Rivalry on Ice

Photo: Rebecca Castagna

Photo: Rebecca Castagna

Photo: Rebecca Castagna

Photo: Rebecca Castagna

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The Quinnipiac Bobcats will make their first appearance ever in the “Rivalry on Ice” at Madison Square Garden in New York City when they face off with the Harvard Crimson. Here’s what to look for:

Tale of The Tape

 No. 1/2 Quinnipiac Bobcats (18-1-3, 9-0-2 ECAC)

To say the Bobcats are coming in hot would be an understatement. They are currently #1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and only trail North Dakota in the USCHO.com Poll. The team’s lone loss came in the finale of the first half of the season against Boston University when they fell 4-1. Since coming out of the holiday break, the Bobcats are 3-0-1 including two big shutouts from senior goaltender Michael Garteig.

No. 4/5 Harvard Crimson (8-2-3, 4-1-3 Hockey East)

The Crimson will enter this one with a lot less games played than Quinnipiac, but they may be just as good. Since opening play for the second half of the season, Harvard is 2-1, including a 6-5 loss at the hands of the Terriers in a heartbreaker where the Crimson allowed Boston to score three times in the final four minutes to come from behind and win. 

Offense

Quinnipiac (3.73 goals per game)

This is a team where anyone can score at anytime. Junior Tim Clifton leads a team that has tallied 82 goals so far this season with his team-high 13 goals for the Bobcats. Clifton’s 13 goals are tied for ninth overall in the nation, but the Bobcats offense doesn’t stop there. With veteran playmakers like Travis St. Denis and Sam Anas, who are both now over 100 career points, setting up the offense in the zone, it opens up opportunities for big shots from defensemen Devon Toews and Connor Clifton. If the Bobcats are patient with the puck and limit their turnovers, they can usually find the back of the net.

Harvard (3.92 goals per games)

This will be one of the first times that the Bobcats will enter a game where they are not the better team offensively and rightfully so. Jimmy Vesey is a bona fide offensive stud and is a nightmare for coaches. He is currently ranked third amongst all players in points per game. Not to be outdone is his teammate Kyle Criscuolo who is currently ranked 3rd in the nation in goals per game with .85 (11 on the season). Between these two players and Alexander Kerfoot, who is second in the nation in assists per game with 1.25 a game, the Bobcats will have to be stout defensively.

Advantage: Quinnipiac, because this team is not a one-trick pony. Their entire lineup consists of players who can strike from anywhere, anytime.

Goaltending/Defense

Quinnipiac: Michael Garteig

It’s almost not fair to Garteig to say he’s been dominant this year. The Canada native has been a brick wall this season. Every single goalie stat you look up, you will find Michael Garteig’s name in the top five. Goals against average, save percentage, winning percentage, and of course, shutouts. Garteig is coming off a record setting performance against Union, where he got his seventh shutout of the year to set a new program record. He, along with the Bobcats defense, has only allowed three goals after the second period in 22 games so far. Long story short: Michael Garteig has been a superstar so far this season. 

Harvard: Merrick Madsen

This will be the most electrifying goalie battle of the season. Just as prolific as both teams offenses, are their goalies. For Harvard, they have relied on Merrick Madsen, who has played just as well as Garteig this season. Madsen is currently top 10 in all major categories, including goals against average, save percentage, winning percentage, and shutouts.

Advantage: Quinnipiac, Madsen is no slouch in net, but Garteig is not afraid of the bright lights and has been in between those pipes all season when it has counted. Madsen can be shaky at times and doesn’t have the numbers like Garteig does this year and or in his career.

Intangibles:

Quinnipiac:

This is one of the bigger stages for the Bobcats in recent memory, but they have played big time games this year already. If you were at High Points Solutions Arena for the game against Boston, you felt the big time feel of that game. They aren’t afraid of the bright lights. However, the Bobcats will need to rely on their young talent to step up to the challenge come game time.

Harvard:

This is their third consecutive year playing in the Rivalry on Ice at MSG, so their upperclassmen are used to the atmosphere that is comes along with playing in the city that never sleeps. It’s not the game, because when the puck drops, it’s the same game that both teams have been playing all their lives. It’s everything before. It’s the hotel stay in the city the night before and it’s the energy the day of. This on top of the fact that they will be playing in the “world’s most famous arena.” However, for Harvard, They have been there before and it will be routine to them.

Advantage: Even though I think Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold will have his guys ready to go come game time, I think the Crimson will feel a bit more relaxed because they have the experience.

Prediction:

It’s just hard to pick against the Bobcats. They have arguably the best player in the nation right now in Michael Garteig, they have a junior foward playing out of his mind in Tim Clifton, and they have four lines that can score anywhere, anytime. They can score in bunches or sit back and play defense. You mix that all together and add in two insane playmakers like St. Denis and Anas, and a captain like Soren Jonzzon who will do anything for his teammates. It’s a Pecknold recipe for success—a team game played with a ton of heart and some beautiful skill. This team is on fire. Harvard is coming off a terrible loss against Boston. Bobcats win 3-1.

 

Stats courtesy of Collegehockeystats.com and QU/Harvard Athletics