Regional Final preview: Quinnipiac takes on UMass-Lowell in East Region final

Regional Final preview: Quinnipiac takes on UMass-Lowell in East Region final

Andrew Badillo

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: MJ Baird

Sam Anas may not have been one hundred percent healthy, and he did not participate in the morning skate on Saturday, but the Quinnipiac Bobcats felt his presence on the ice.

Quinnipiac (30-3-7, 16-1-5 ECAC ) defeated Rochester Institute of Technology on Saturday in the NCAA East Regional semifinal game by a final score of 4-0. Quinnipiac held RIT (18-15-6, 14-9-5 AHC) scoreless in the game, Michael Garteig earning his 10th shutout of the season.

“He was a game-time decision. We really needed to see where he (Anas) was,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “He has a letter on his shirt for a reason and felt like he could give us something on the power play tonight and maybe a shift here and there.”

Anas did not skate his normal workload, but he did record an assist on the first Bobcat goal of the night scored by Travis St. Denis, on the power play. Keep the power play in mind for a little later on.

In the other East semifinal game, it took UMass-Lowell and Yale an extra frame. In a matchup with two of the premier defenses and goaltenders in the nation, extra time was no surprise.

Not to be forgotten, UMass-Lowell took three overtimes last weekend to get by the defending national champion Providence College Friars.

In the overtime period it was Joe Gambardella who lifted the River Hawks to victory on a loose puck in front. Not only did Gambardella score the overtime winner, but he also tallied a goal at the end of the third to force the tie and send the game to the extra frame.

After one day in Albany, only two teams remain. Quinnipiac and UMass-Lowell will battle Sunday with a trip to Tampa Bay, Florida and the Frozen Four on the line.

So what is there to expect come the East Regional final on Sunday?

Well first things first, a goaltending showdown.

The two are arguably some of the best net minders in their respective conferences, both in their senior seasons.

Kevin Boyle sports a .936 save percentage, good for second in the nation and best in Hockey East. He also owns a 1.77 goals against average, third in the nation and first in the conference, and add seven shutouts on the season, third in the NCAA.

Similarly Michael Garteig has an impressive line of his own. A .926 save percentage, a 1.85 goals against average (good for 2nd in the ECAC), and an impressive nine shutouts (2nd in the NCAA).

“There are a lot of good goalies in this bracket. When you talk about Garteig and Alex Lyon, they are two of the better goalies in the country,” UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin said.

The two goalies are protected by strong defenses of their own, but the goaltenders are known to be able to steal wins for their teams. A low-scoring affair is more than likely given the seniors between the pipes for each team.

Another big factor in the game is more than likely special teams. Like I said before, remember the power play. UMass is a disciplined team. Lowell is averaging only eight and a half penalty minutes a game compared to Quinnipiac’s 11 minutes a game, the penalty killing and power play units must be clicking.

Fortunately for Quinnipiac, they have the number four ranked power play in the nation. But with a less than healthy Sam Anas and a limited number of chances with the man advantage expected on Sunday, the Bobcats will need to take advantage of every opportunity they get.

 

Players to watch:

UMass-Lowell: CJ Smith

Purely in the game against Yale on Saturday, it is evident Smith is the type of player to make plays happen, not wait for them to come to him. Using his blistering speed to win races to the puck and develop passing and shooting lanes, Smith’s 22 assists come as no surprise. Smith can make opportunities happen Sunday for Lowell, perhaps enough to get pucks behind Garteig.

 

Quinnipiac: Connor Clifton

Clifton has 10 points in six postseason games for the Bobcats. The only game he didn’t record a point? The second game in the ECAC quarterfinals, against Cornell. Quinnipiac went on to lose that game. Every other game the junior recorded a point in this postseason the Bobcats won. If Clifton can find the score sheet against Lowell, well then Quinnipiac has a good shot at winning.