Union-Quinnipiac pregame report
Good evening from Messa Rink, as we close out November with a terrific ECAC Hockey matchup between No. 8 Union (3-1 ECACH, 8-2-1 overall) and No. 16 Quinnipiac (4-0, 8-3-2).
The two top defensive teams in the league will be facing each other. But more on that later.
There was big news made by Union around 1 p.m. Friday afternoon when it was announced that junior defenseman and team captain Mat Bodie was returning to the lineup tonight. Bodie broke his left wrist on the first shift of the Nov. 2 game at RPI. He was expected to be out six-to-eight weeks, which would have meant a return after Christmas. Instead, he missed just five games.
Bodie’s return should spark the Dutchmen in a couple of ways. First, he is the quarterback on the power play, and it has struggled in the last four games. Union has just two power-play goals in its last 16 opportunities.
The other spark will be a jolt to the entire team in that no one’s spot in the lineup is safe. Union coach Rick Bennett is dressing an extra defenseman and one less forward. Forwards scratched for the game are Matt Wilkins, Theo DiPauli, Nick Cruice and Cole Ikkala. Only Ikkala is injured.
Here is the Union lineup, starting with the forwards (LW-C-RW):
Daniel Ciampini/Kyle Bodie/Wayne Simpson
Kevin Sullivan/Mark Bennett/Matt Hatch
Daniel Carr/Josh Jooris/Max Novak
David Roy and Sam Coatta are the extra forwards.
The defensive pairings are:
Shawn Stuart/Charlie Vasaturo
Greg Coburn/Ryan Forgaard
Shayne Gostisbehere/Mat Bodie
Sebastien Gingras is the extra defenseman.
Troy Grosenick starts in goal.
As I mentioned earlier, Quinnipiac and Union are the top two defensive teams in the league. The Bobcats have allowed just 1.77 goals per game, while Union has given up an average 1.91 goals per game.
For a team that has a reputation of thinking offense first, it may be a surprise to college hockey observers that the Bobcats, who are on six-game unbeaten streak, are defensively sound. It starts in goal with senior Eric Hartzell, who is 8-2-2 with a 1.55 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and two shutouts. Quinnipiac has a senior-laded defense, with Loren Barron, Zack Currie, Mike Dalhuisen and Zach Davies,
“You’ve got an excellent goaltender, you’ve got four defensemen that are seniors, you have a junior [Zach Tolkinen] and a sophomore [Danny Federico],” Bennett said earlier this week. “That tells me that’s an older corps. It might be the oldest corps in the country. [They have] forwards making the commitment to playing defense. They do clog up the neutral zone with the best of them.”
The Bobcats’ offense is led by senior forward Jeremy Langlois, who has six goals and five assists in 12 games. Keep an eye on the Jones’ twins. The juniors are terrific offensive talents. Kellen Jones, an Edmonton Oilers draft pick who has 23 goals and 40 assists in 87 career games, is off to a slow start with a goal and four assists. Connor Jones, who has 25 goals and 44 assists in 83 career games, has three goals and an assist in seven games. He missed six games because of injury.
Here is the Quinnipiac lineup, starting with the forwards:
Matthew Peca/Connor Jones/Kellen Jones
Clay Harvey/Jeremy Langlois/Russell Goodman
Byrce Van Brabant/Ben Arnt/Jordan Samuels-Thomas
Kevin Bui/Travis St. Denis/Alex Baron
The defensive pairings are:
Zach Davies/Zach Tolkinen
Dan Federico/Mike Dalhuisen
Loren Barron/Zack Currie
Hartzell starts in goal.
The referees are Brad LeBlanc and Bryan Hicks. Jim Briggs and Andrew Suhovic are the linesmen.
I’ll have updates on the on Twitter. If you’re not following me, my Twitter handle is @slapschotts. The hashtags I will use for this game are #UnionHockey, #QUHockey and #ECACHockey.
I’ll update my Parting Schotts blog after each period, and have more description of the game.
If you haven’t done so, please like two Facebook pages — my own, The Daily Gazette on Ice and the Slap Schotts College Hockey Segment.
Enjoy the game!