Tournament roundup: Up north, out west, across the pond and back home

How the four Quinnipiac winter teams fared in tournament action last weekend.

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Cameron Levasseur

Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey has won 10 Nutmeg Classics.

Men’s hockey by Cameron Levasseur: Ice hockey and Northern Ireland are two things that typically don’t go together, but the No. 2/4 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team played a role in the beginnings of a culture shift over the weekend. 

The Bobcats brought home the   Trophy as champions of the sixth annual Friendship Four tournament in Belfast Saturday afternoon in an enthralling 3-2 shootout win over then-No. 17 : . 

Because the teams were tied after overtime, the game goes in the books as a tie. But regardless, a positive result against a ranked opponent is a boost for Quinnipiac in the PairWise rankings, where the Bobcats now sit No. 3 in the nation. A poor strength of schedule makes success in every game like that crucial to securing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if the conference playoffs don’t go the Bobcats’ way. 

And that’s not to mention the obvious confidence boost that winning a championship gives a team, especially as Quinnipiac heads back into ECAC Hockey play. 

“I’m proud of this group,” graduate student defenseman and team captain Zach Metsa said on NESN+ following the win. “We stuck with it, sometimes I thought it’d be easy to get distracted out here but we were able to dial it in and get two wins and it feels great.”

Men’s hockey jumped to No. 2 in the DCU/USCHO poll this week. (Jack Spiegel)

At 10-1-3, the Bobcats hold the highest winning percentage in the country, though that certainly didn’t come easy. Tight games, especially against conference opponents, define Quinnipiac’s season thus far, but under that pressure is where this team thrives. 

“We find ways to win,” head coach Rand Pecknold said on the BBC broadcast. “We don’t blow anybody out. It’s a grind every game, but we always talk about ‘embrace the grind’ and we’re good at that.” 

With balanced scoring up and down the lineup and continued consistent play from reigning All-America sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets in net, it will be the Bobcats applying the pressure down the midseason stretch as they ride the momentum from this tournament victory. 

 

Men’s basketball by Ethan Hurwitz: The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team has been rock solid up to this point, so much so that it has been on top of the MAAC for the entire year so far. After starting the regular season on a historic 5-0 start, the Bobcats were able to travel to Quebec for the latest installment of the Northern Classic. 

While it heads back to Hamden with a sour taste in the mouth after dropping the finale on Sunday, Quinnipiac was able to shine on the international stage and improve its already-historic record to 7-1, the best since 1969-70. 

“I think we are able to keep fresh bodies on the floor because we have depth,” head coach Baker Dunleavy said on Nov 15. “We can be really good defensively … we are seeing what it should be like.” 

The team was able to utilize that new-found depth during the stretch of games. While sophomore guard/forward and East Carolina transfer Alexis Reyes was out with an illness after not practicing all week, the likes of graduate student Ike Nweke and junior Paul Otieno paid dividends in the front court. 

In the three games, the forward duo combined for 50 points and 55 rebounds across 169 minutes. Those additions, who Dunleavy has called their two best players so far, helped knock off formidable foes in Stephen F. Austin (in what I think was their best game of the year) and Montana State.

Quinnipiac men’s basketball went 2-1 on its trip to Quebec. (Jack Spiegel)

And the one loss to heavily-favored Hofstra came down to the wire. The Bobcats were faced with a double-digit deficit constantly and were able to pull to within just one score before the final horn sounded. 

The weekend can be seen as a success, not just because of the wins in the box score, but because of the continuous breakout by junior guard Luis Kortright. The Bobcats’ best pure scorer has been the team’s most reliable player all year and continued that in Quebec, averaging 11.6 points per game. 

Kortright’s consistent ability to produce off the bench, along with the solid backcourt of redshirt senior Matt Balanc and junior Dezi Jones, provide Dunleavy with a roster that complements each other on both ends of the floor. 

As the Bobcats head into confernce play, they will look to use the success up north to help climb north in the conference standings. 

 

Women’s ice hockey by Cameron Levasseur: Led by three goals from sophomore forward Maya Labad and stifling defensive play, No. 4 Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey brought home the Nutmeg Classic tournament title this past weekend. 

The Bobcats dominated Bemidji State 5-0 in the semifinal game before grinding out a tough 1-0 win over No. 15 UConn in the championship. 

The goaltending tandem of junior Catie Boudiette and graduate student Logan Angers was perfect in net, stopping all 34 shots they faced on the weekend, each recording a shutout. 

The pair has only given up 13 goals on the season, a mark that puts them second in the NCAA and first for teams with more than 10 games played. Consistent play between the pipes was a major factor in Quinnipiac’s success last season and has not diminished, even with the loss of All-USCHO First Teamer Corinne Schroeder. 

“They work hard together,” head coach Cass Turner said. “I think a lot of this is happening because of just how good all three of them were last year. Corinne Schroeder really pushed them to get better and they pushed one another.” 

Up front, Labad’s big tournament put her in a tie for the team lead in goals, but she is not the only one having a standout season on the scoresheet. A dynamic second line connection between junior Olivia Mobley and graduate student Shay Maloney has propelled the Bobcats’ offense. 

The two have combined for 41 points on the year, 18 of which on scoring plays involving both players. That, combined with the scoring prowess of freshman linemate Madison Chantler (7-3-10), has kept this offense amongst the nation’s best even with graduate student forward and co-captain Lexie Adzjia out with injury for the past month. 

Consistent play on both sides of the puck and a commitment to the process has led to Quinnipiac tallying 14 wins in its first 15 games, including five over ranked opponents. With this championship win, it seems as if the Bobcats are just one step closer to their ultimate goal: an NCAA Championship. 

“Our team is hungry to keep getting better,” Turner said. “We want to have things that we’re the best in the country at, and I think that they take that to heart and they really dive in and commit to one another to try to make those plays and be that team.” 

 

Women’s basketball by Jennifer Moglia: In the 2022 Christmas City Classic, the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team lost its first game to Kent State 58-55 and won the consolation game 67-64 over host Lehigh. Neither the loss nor the victory was decisive, an indicator of what could be coming the rest of the season. 

Saturday’s game against the Golden Flashes was a battle for momentum from start to finish with a final score that was heavily impacted by foul calls against both teams. Sunday’s contest between the Bobcats and the Mountain Hawks was evenly matched for the majority of the time, but a hectic final quarter allowed Quinnipiac to pull ahead. 

The star of the weekend was undoubtedly senior forward Cur’Tiera Haywood, who opened the scoring in both games. She recorded a team-leading 13 points on Saturday and 11 on Sunday. 

Haywood was third in points on her team against Lehigh, despite fouling out of the game with one minute left in the fourth quarter. She continues her hot start to the season, where she has recorded at least 10 points in all but one game (the season opener at then-No. 10 N.C. State).

Quinnipiac women’s basketball is 3-3 so far on the season. (Connor Lawless)

Graduate student guard Rose Caverly scored eight points against Kent State, then nearly doubled it the next day with a team-leading 15. Freshman forward Ella O’Donnell, in her first collegiate start Sunday, recorded a career-high 14 points. 

The biggest takeaway from the weekend is that both games were decided by one possession. The Bobcats team did not look like the team that beat Hartford by over 50 points on Nov. 14. 

In addition, sophomore guard Jackie Grisdale was named to the Christmas Classic All-Tournament Team for her weekend performance. She was the Bobcats’ best defender in both games, holding her matchups to only five total points. 

Quinnipiac will have to focus on sustaining offensive pressure and fighting to keep momentum swinging in its direction. When things were going the Bobcats’ way this weekend, they were on fire, but when they weren’t, disaster struck. 

The team’s next game will be on Dec. 4, at 12 p.m. against St. Francis Brooklyn, who has only won one game so far this season. With only two consecutive victories so far, it’d be the perfect time for the Bobcats to start a winning streak.