Tale of the Tape: Quinnipiac vs. Yale on Feb. 7

Steven Pappas

One of the most anticipated days of the ECAC Hockey season is upon us, with the 33rd edition of the Battle of Whitney Avenue set for Feb. 7 in New Haven.

Both teams have been on very different paths this season. Quinnipiac is shaking off an early slump to really find their stride throughout the last 17 games of the season. For Yale, it seems like the Bulldogs have taken two steps back for every one step forward this season. The Bulldogs have beaten one quality opponent all season and have been severely outplayed against better competition this season with losses to Harvard twice, Cornell, Clarkson and Boston College.

Before the puck gets dropped at Ingalls Rink on Friday night, let’s take a look at the tale of the tape and where each team has advantages.

The Stars: 

Quinnipiac’s Odeen Tufto:

It’s without a doubt that Tufto is one of, if not the best playmaker in college hockey over the last three seasons; putting up over a point per game in his career. With Tufto’s goal-scoring numbers down this season, he has excelled at dishing the puck around this season averaging an assist per game through 26 games and is on pace to shatter his career-high in assists. Tufto is on pace for 37 points through the 34 guaranteed game but has known to pop off for 3-4 point nights from time to time. The Bobcats offense runs through the 5’9 winger and when he is on, the Bobcats are very dangerous.

Courtesy: QBSN

Yale’s Curtis Hall:

Not to be outdone, Curtis Hall is one of the best 19-year-olds in the world at his position. Hall played in the 2019-20 IIHF World Junior Championships for Team USA in Ostrava Czech Republic. Hall stands 6-foot-3 210 pounds and uses every inch and pound to his advantage. Hall plays a huge role in front of the net, screening goalies and giving his teammate shooting lanes. The Boston Bruins draft pick is an elite goal scorer at this level and garners attention from defenseman whenever he touches the puck. Hall’s 13 goals in 17 games this season lead the team and put him 2nd in the NCAA for goals per game, only behind rival and USA teammate Jack Drury of Harvard.

Courtesy: Yale Athletics

Advantage: Yale

The Defense: 

Quinnipiac’s Karlis Cukste:

The senior Latvian defenseman has continued to show his professional readiness this season as Cukste has contributed on the offensive side of the puck with 14 points this season (four goals and 10 assists). Where Cukste shines is on the defensive side of the puck. The 6-foot-3 senior has led the team in shot-blocking three of the last four years. The only time Cukste did not lead the team, he was second with one less shot block. With a defensive core that is really young and inexperienced, Cukste has calmed the group down and made them a pretty good defensive group.

Courtesy: QBSN

Yale’s Phil Kemp:

Kemp, much like his teammate Curtis Hall, played for Team USA at the World Junior Championships. Kemp, however, was a member of last year’s team that lost to Finland in the finals. Kemp is one of the best defensive defensemen in the country and makes it really difficult for opponents to carry the puck by him into the neutral zone. He forces players to dump the puck around him and his outstanding retrieval skills allow him to negate any offense attack by the opposition. It’s been a tough season for Kemp and the defensive core, but a statement outing against their rival could be a springboard into the postseason.

Courtesy: Yale Athletics

Advantage: Quinnipiac

The Goalies: 

Quinnipiac’s Keith Petruzzelli:

There’s not much to say about Keith Petruzzelli that hasn’t been said so far this season. The 6-foot-6 junior has proved the doubters wrong to this part of the season. After a shaky start with some bad nights in goal, Petruzzelli has rattled off a 17 game stretch where he is giving up 1.76 goals per game and has a save percentage of .929; making him one of the elite goaltenders in the conference. Petruzzelli is coming in fresh off of an ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Week award in a week in which he allowed one goal on 53 shots.

Courtesy: QBSN

Yale’s Corbin Kaczperski:

It’s been a textbook roller-coaster season for Corbin Kaczperski in goal. There have been nights where he has stolen the show and won games by himself, and there have been games where his play has really hurt his team. Kaczperski’s last seven games have been a microcosm of his season. The senior posted a shutout against Union back in mid-January, a 42-save night in the Connecticut Ice consultation game, and made 25 saves against a very stingy Clarkson team. Then there are nights like Harvard and Sacred Heart, where Kaczperski’s play was detrimental to the team; 7 goals allowed on 39 shots against Harvard at Madison Square Garden, and four goals on nine shots against Sacred Heart.

Courtesy: Yale Athletics

Advantage: Quinnipiac

The Young Guns: 

Quinnipiac’s Wyatt Bongiovanni:

Bongiovanni has blown expectations out of the water this season after a really good freshman season last year. The sophomore winger leads the team in goals this year with 13. He is an integral part of the teams’ power play, taking over for Chase Priskie on the one-time spot from the circles. Bongiovanni has also played a bigger role from a leadership perspective this year being one of the more experienced sophomores on a team with 22 underclassmen. With 20 points on the season, the ceiling has only gotten higher for Bongiovanni and could very well take over a game with his lethal shot and great awareness on the ice.

Courtesy: QBSN

Yale’s Justin Pearson:

I’m going to be blunt here. There is not much help coming from the underclassman on this Yale team that is not named Pearson, Hall, or St. Ivany. These three have carried the team and have inflated the underclassmen numbers. This trio has combined for 43 points this season, while the rest of the underclassmen have combined for 14 points. Pearson has had a very well balanced season with seven goals and eight assists which shows he is able to do multiple things well on the ice. He’s not an elite scorer or passer but he’s exactly what this team needs to drive an offense.

Courtesy: Yale Athletics

Advantage: Quinnipiac

The Key: 

Quinnipiac: Shutting down the neutral zone and slow the game down 

The Bobcats have been so successful this season when they have shut teams down through the neutral zone. They break the flow of a team’s offense that likes to play fast and that’s exactly what Yale does. Quinnipiac has been burned this season by fast teams that are able to burn through the neutral zone, with Sacred Heart most recently.

Yale: Getting an early lead

The Bulldogs this season have not been able to come back in games when they surrender the first goal. Yale is 2-9-1 this season when surrendering the first goal and are winless in the conference when giving up the first goal. Ingalls is going to be rocking, so Yale needs to use that to their advantage early.

Last Meeting: 

Quinnipiac 4-1 Win

Prediction: Quinnipiac 4-2