Playoff hockey: Brosh and Cloutier’s weekend preview

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Photo: Rebecca Castagna

Photo: Rebecca Castagna

ECAC Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament: Cornell vs. Quinnipiac

Brosh: The top-seeded Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team welcomes in the eighth-seeded Cornell Big Red on Friday night for a best-of-three series of the ECAC quarterfinals.

Cornell has been one of the toughest opponents for Quinnipiac, as the Bobcats were forced to battle back from a three-goal deficit in their first matchup of the season.

When the teams met again in February, the Bobcats skated to a 2-2 tie after a questionable goal by the Big Red.

Quinnipiac enters the weekend well rested after a week off.

The Bobcats are riding a massive momentum boost from two weeks ago when they captured the Cleary Cup in a 4-1 victory over Brown and defeated Yale convincingly the following night.

Cornell is coming off a sweep of Union last weekend in a series where the Big Red’s goaltender Mitch Gillam stopped 59 of the 60 shots he faced.

Cloutier: Expect Cornell to lay everything on the line because without a conference title, the Big Red will miss the NCAA Tournament.

While Cornell is fighting for another day, Quinnipiac is essentially guaranteed to make the round of 16 with the bonus of limited travel if they remain a high seed.

Brosh: One of the biggest challenges the Bobcats will face this weekend is trying to match up against Cornell’s size.

The Big Red’s roster has 16 skaters over 6-foot-2 while the Bobcats only have four skaters who top those heights.

As always, Quinnipiac will look to use their speed to make chances offensively. However, standing in their way will be Gillam, who has given Quinnipiac some problems this season.

Gillam is coming off a stellar weekend. The good news? The Bobcats have beaten Gillam before, including putting five goals on him in their contest in November.

The Bobcats also have goaltender Michael Garteig, who continues to be superb in net and is coming off one of his best performances against Yale.

Cloutier: I consider the Bobcats a physical team, but Cornell has the size advantage.

But the speed advantage goes to Quinnipiac and will be the key factor in this series.

If the Bobcats stick to what they have been doing all year long, by dumping and chasing the puck and beating the opposing team’s first defenseman, then this could be a more lopsided game than anticipated.

With Cornell’s size, they lack the speed and agility needed to defend a dump-and-chase forecheck.

Look for the Bobcats to turn the Big Red defensemen’s hips to gain that extra stride as a way to capitalize on scoring opportunities.

Brosh’s prediction: Bobcats win this series. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. This series should go three games and will need an overtime to settle the score at least once.

Players to watch: The Clifton brothers. Between Tim scoring goals and winning faceoffs along with Connor being the defensive force that he is, the Bobcats find themselves getting a lot of their energy on the bench from these two.

Cloutier’s prediction: Quinnipiac sweeps the series. One of these games will be decided by more than one goal but the other win will come off a one-goal game that potentially goes into overtime. Look for the Quinnipiac power play to be lethal in this series.

Player to watch: Since I think this game is going to come down to speed, I’m looking for Sam Anas to be the most productive player in this series. Anas lost his 16-game point streak in Quinnipiac’s last game, so I expect him to be the hungriest player on the ice.

Photo: Emma Robertson

Photo: Emma Robertson

NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament: Clarkson vs. Quinnipiac

Cloutier: Tell me if you have heard this before, but Quinnipiac and Clarkson are going to face off in a pivotal game. The Bobcats and Golden Knights face off in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

This matchup is transforming into one of the most thrilling rivalries in college hockey.

Last weekend Quinnipiac and Clarkson played each other in the ECAC Tournament final. Quinnipiac won 1-0 because of excellent goaltending from Sydney Rossman and a perfectly executed, well-organized defensive system.

Both of these teams’ staffs have coaches with playing experience. Clarkson assistant coach Meghan Duggan is still playing professionally and Cassandra Turner is no stranger to the ice.

In the ECAC final, both teams recorded less than 20 shots. Rossman obtained her 16th shutout of the season and the Bobcats won the championship title.

Brosh: At this point in the season, there are no surprises. Clarkson and Quinnipiac know each other well.

The game last Sunday was as defensive as it gets with Quinnipiac’s Nicole Brown pushing the Bobcats ahead with the lone goal of the game.

However, I expect both coaches to make changes to bring more offensive pressure for their final battle this season.

Cloutier’s prediction: The unfortunate part of this matchup is we don’t get a three-game series. I don’t believe hockey is a sport that should be played in a single elimination format.

Nonetheless, this is going to be a great hockey game that is difficult to predict. These teams know each other well and the game is going to reflect that.

My final score prediction is 3-2, decided in overtime. I’m not exactly picking a winner in this game because these teams are too evenly matched. However, I do believe whoever scores first will have the momentum to carry them to a victory.

I see no way around free hockey from these two teams. With the excellent goaltending and defense these two teams have displayed thus far, a 3-2 final may be a bold statement. But these teams have watched a lot of tape of each other and may be able to squeak in some extra goals this weekend.

Player(s) to watch: It’s too easy to pick the goaltenders as the players to keep an eye on, so I’m going to go with each teams’ first-line centers and two top defenders. Watch out for Quinnipiac’s Nicole Kosta and Clarkson’s Shannon MacAulay in this game. For defensemen, pay close attention to Quinnipiac captain Cydney Roesler and Clarkson’s Erin Ambrose.

This game is going to need production from everywhere, but I believe these four players must lead the way if their teams want to win this weekend.

Brosh’s prediction: Luckily for the Bobcats, they haven’t really been stopped all year.

With three lines that can score anywhere and at any time along with excellent goaltending from Rossman, this team is determined to reach Durham for the Frozen Four. I say they do.

3-1 Quinnipiac.

Player to watch: Taylar Cianfarano. After her amazing weekend where she netted four goals in one game, Cianfarano has flown a little under the radar the past few games.

I think that changes Saturday afternoon. Expect her to make a difference in this one.