Quinnipiac turned in a dominating defensive effort to stymie St. Cloud State on Saturday night at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. The Bobcats earned a 4-1 victory to rebound from Friday night's 3-2 loss to the Huskies and earn a series split in their non-conference series against St. Cloud State.
Minnesota-native Tommy Schutt got the scoring started for Quinnipiac in his first trip back to his home state as a member of the Bobcats when he scored short-handed at 8:49 of the first period.
Tim Clifton would add to the lead early in the second period when he scored on a screened shot at 3:22 of the frame. St. Cloud State would have their best offensive opportunities in the second period, putting up 12 shots on goal and having 50 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time, but Quinnipiac's defense did a tremendous job of blocking shots and clogging up the ice.
Clifton would add his second goal of the game midway through the third period when he tipped in a power play goal off a shot by Justin Agosta. Jonny Brodzinski would draw the Huskies within one goal late in the game, but Quinnipiac's Travis St. Denis iced the game with an empty-net goal in the game's final minute.
The win moves Quinnipiac to 13-6-1 overall this season, while the Huskies drop to 7-10-1 on the season. The Bobcats return home next weekend to host a pair of Capital District teams in RPI and Union. Meanwhile the schedule gets no easier for St. Cloud State when they host NCHC-leading Miami.
Shots on goal: SCSU: 4-12-7-23 QU: 5-8-15-28
Corsi(even strength shot attempts) SCSU: 7-23-9-39-48.75% QU: 11-14-16-41-51.25%
Prime scoring area attempts: SCSU: 1-12-8-21 QU: 4-7-10-21
What do the numbers tell us?
The big thing that stuck out to me was how little action there was in the first period. Just 18 combined even strength shot attempts. The overall possession numbers ended up pretty even, but I'm a tad skeptical of SCSU's 23 chances in the second period. I think a few PP attempts got marked down as even strength.
In any case, the prime scoring area numbers show that Quinnipiac did a pretty good job of keeping SCSU out of dangerous scoring areas.
-I was tremendously impressed with Quinnipiac's team defensive effort tonight. St. Cloud State is usually the team that excels at clogging up the neutral zone, but the Bobcats really slowed St. Cloud State down tonight. When St. Cloud State gained control of the puck, the Bobcats were willing to cede territory in the neutral zone in favor of dropping back four defenders standing strong along the blue line. The Huskies were unable to penetrate the offensive zone against that line time after time. It was like running into a brick wall.
The one clean zone entry it seemed SCSU got all night was on Brodzinski's goal late in the game, but that came during 4-on-4 play when the Bobcats got caught giving up a rare 3-on-2 rush.
-Quinnipiac was only credited with five blocked shots on the game, which seems insane to me. It felt like they blocked a ton of shots tonight, including some excellent blocks from defensemen after SCSU was able to get shots past the first line of QU defense. They really sold out to protect their goalie tonight.
One key stretch came early in the second period when St. Cloud State held the puck inside the Quinnipiac for a very long stretch of about 90 seconds. While SCSU controlled the play, every shot attempt was either blocked or sent wide of the net. Even when the Huskies were playing well, they couldn't get much through to Gartieg.
-The big issue for St. Cloud State all season has been a lack of depth in scoring. Last night, they were able to get three goals, and none of them came from Jonny Brodzinski or Joey Benik, an extreme rarity this season. Tonight, it was back to reality, with Jonny Brodzinski playing very well, and netting a goal, but no offense to be found anywhere else in the line-up. It's a problem that doesn't seem to appear to have an apparent solution at this point in the season.
The third and fourth lines for the Huskies played pretty well, but aren't quite consistent enough, and just don't seem to have the finishers to really hurt the opposition.
-The Huskies finished the night 0-for-6 on the power play, and 0-for-10 on the weekend. That included a key stretch of 50 seconds of 5-on-3 late in the second period with St. Cloud trailing 2-0. During that 5-on-3, the Huskies had three shot attempts. Two were blocked by traffic and immediately cleared with a rebound chance, and the third was gloved and frozen by Gartieg. Overall, the Huskies just didn't seem to win many second chance puck battles tonight.
-St. Cloud State freshman defenseman Nate Widman continues to play well and earn more ice time. He reminds me a bit of St. Cloud State assistant and former team captain Garrett Raboin, who like Widman, was a walk-on that little was expected of, but kept earning more and more ice time because he was rock solid every time he got the opportunity. Widman is a little bigger, though his lack of foot speed hurts him against faster competition, but he'll be a reliable second pairing defenseman for the Huskies.
-Very long stretch midway through second period of SCSU possession in QU zone. All SCSU shot attempts were either blocked or went wide. Nothing on net.
8:49 Tommy Schutt from Alex Barron and Matthew Peca (short-handed) 1-0 Quinnipiac
Peca skated the puck into the St. Cloud State zone while short-handed and fed a drop pass to a trailing Barron, who then dropped another pass to a trailing Schutt, leaving Schutt with a wide open lane to the net. Schutt fired a high snap shot that beat Lindgren.
3:22 Tim Clifton from Tanner McMaster and Alex Barron 2-0 Quinnipiac
Clifton fired a quick wrist shot from the right half boards that caught Lindgren by surprise
10:16 Tim Clifton from Justin Agosta and Derek Smith (power play) 3-0 Quinnipiac
Quinnipiac worked the puck around the zone on their power play, leading to a one-timed slap shot from Agosta that was tipped into the net by Clifton for his second goal of the game.
16:10 Jonny Brodzinski from Nate Widman (4-on-4) 3-1 Quinnipiac
Widman rushed the puck into the zone up the center of the ice, then fed a pass to Brodzinski on the right wing. Brodzinski came in alone and fired a half-slap shot low to the blocker side of Gartieg.
19:11 Travis St. Denis from Matthew Peca and Sam Anas (empty net) 4-1 Quinnipiac
With the St. Cloud State net empty, St. Denis skated the puck out of the St. Cloud State zone and from center ice, was able to put the puck into the empty net to ice the game.