Team of the Week: Quinnipiac
Coming into the season everyone knew that Quinnipiac would be able to keep pucks out its own net. The biggest question was whether the Bobcats would be able to find a consistent offense to again become a dominant force in the ECAC.
The Bobcats struggled out of the gate against Boston College and Boston University. They left the weekend 0-1-1, but a bounce here and there and QU could have left with a pair of big wins. Instead, after scoring just three goals, QU left many questions unanswered.
A 3-2 win against Vermont last weekend was a good bounceback and gave the Bobcats their first win, but it was just a sign that QU was just getting going. After a nine-goal weekend and weekend sweep at Northeastern many of those questions are starting to get answered. It is this sweep that has given Quinnipiac CHN Team of the Week honors.
"We played those (early) games to overtime and thought we played well in them," QU coach Rand Pecknold said. "We still have some deficiencies, but this is a normal thing for October. I think we are getting to the point where we understand what we need to do to win games. If we play to our identity and pay attention to details, we are a tough team to beat. It wasn't a perfect weekend but we were able to get two wins, on the road, against a good Northeastern team."
Despite putting just 15 shots on net on Friday night against the Huskies, QU scored six goals. The finishing was there, just not the identity and tenacity that we are accustomed to with Pecknold coached teams.
"On Friday, we did not play well, struggled and Northeastern was also really good," Pecknold said. "We were able to take advantage of our opportunities. We were down (4-3) going into the third and we were fortunate it was only one. We scored a really nice goal to tie it. We got a bounce in overtime on a goal from (Alex) Whelan."
The Bobcats came back from three deficits and were resilient despite the struggles.
"I was really happy with the resiliency on Friday," Pecknold said."We were able to find a way to win a hockey game against what I think is a really good hockey team."
Saturday against the Huskies, the Quinnipiac we are more accustomed to was on display; the Bobcats sent 46 shots on goal, dominated possession and, although it needed overtime, played a much cleaner game.
"I thought we played a great 60-minute hockey game," said Pecknold. "It was our best game of the year. We played with pace, to our identity and I thought we were really good."
Despite the first week troubles, the Bobcats have proven they can score. They are being led in the early going by rejuvenated sophomore Alex Whelan, who scored the overtime winner Saturday night. Whelan leads the team with four goals and has taken a whopping 25 shots in five contests.
"Alex has been great for us," Pecknold said. "He is a really good story because he was in and out of our lineup last year. He had a couple deficiencies but was very accountable, bought into what we were telling him and continued working on them. He just keeps getting better and better. He just works hard."
QU always has that one freshman that comes out of the blocks quickly, every year, and this season that its Odeen Tufto. Tufto has three goals, five assists and is a plus-8. Tufto scored a pair of goals in the 3-2 win against Vermont, along with scoring the winner in overtime.
"You always need a couple of freshmen to be successful," said Pecknold. "We have had a lot of success in that, which allows us to reload. There is a few other guys in that class that will be really good."
The emergence of Whelan and Tufto adds to a deep lineup that had minimal questions to start. This weekend was a step in the right direction for Quinnipiac, which should propel it going into the tough ECAC schedule.