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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

New Year’s resolutions for Quinnipiac hockey, basketball entering 2024

Photos+by+Peyton+McKenzie%2C+Photoillustration+by+Cameron+Levasseur
Photos by Peyton McKenzie, Photoillustration by Cameron Levasseur

As the calendar turns to 2024 and the Quinnipiac men’s and women’s hockey and basketball teams turn their attention toward the second half of their seasons, The Chronicle sports staff breaks down resolutions each team should focus on in the new year. 

 

Men’s Hockey: Keep improving, even as competition declines

By Cameron Levasseur

There’s a proverbial saying that goes: “iron sharpens iron.” That certainly was the case with Quinnipiac men’s hockey in the first half of this season.

The Bobcats, boasting an almost unrecognizable roster from their national championship run in April, were thrown into the fire from October to December. They saw ranked opponents in seven of their 18 games, including bouts with Boston College and Boston University, the current No. 1 and 2 teams in the nation. 

On paper, Quinnipiac’s second half slate is not nearly as tough as the first. Cornell is the only ranked team left on the schedule, whom the Bobcats stacked eight goals on in November. But the game plan cannot change. They need to keep their feet on the gas and use every game as an opportunity to build upon the weaknesses that were visible against some of the nation’s best. 

Quinnipiac didn’t ace those early tests. It struggled with turnovers on the road at New Hampshire, cohesion at home against Maine and playing with a lead in a loss at BU.

Jacob Quillan, junior forward (left), and Collin Graf, junior forward (right), skate towards the faceoff against LIU on December 8, 2023. (Tripp Menhall)

But each of those faults have improved as the season’s drawn on, in part thanks to the high level of competition the team faced. And the Bobcats’ 12 newcomers, six of them freshmen, have shined, helping the team to a 13-4-1 record. 

Freshmen forwards Mason Marcellus and Andon Cerbone, who have 17 and 16 points respectively, have been as good as promised — if not better. Senior Cooper Moore and junior Davis Pennington, blue line additions out of the portal, are stalwarts in their roles. Graduate student forward Zach Tupker is elite at the face-off dot and freshman forward Matthew McGroarty is an energizer bunny on the fourth line. 

Despite a handful of injuries up front early on, the return of senior Travis Treloar from a nine-game absence against Holy Cross on Dec. 30 puts Quinnipiac at full health entering the new year. 

The team is not perfect. It’s not as defensively sound as last season, nor does it have a Richter Award finalist in net. But when it plays the brand of complete hockey that has become synonymous with the name Quinnipiac, the Bobcats are very hard to beat.  

So with the ECAC comparatively weaker than a year ago, Quinnipiac should have one word on its mind as it gears up to defend the throne: dominate. 

 

Women’s Hockey: Close out strong heading into conference tournament 

By Colin Kennedy

The Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team has shown through the first half of the season that they can compete with the best of the best. Now the Bobcats have to finish the season strong and be playing their best hockey if they want to contend come tournament time. 

The first half of the season was business as usual for Quinnipiac, boasting a 18-3-0 record to go along with an undefeated 11-0-0 on home ice. Those three losses came against ranked teams on the road (Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Colgate). 

The first half confirmed that this is a good hockey team, but now they have to go out and replicate that performance, unlike last year. 

The Bobcats closed out the final eight games of the 2022-23 regular season 4-4 with some ugly losses mixed in. An 11-3 beatdown on the road against Princeton and a reverse sweep in New York to wrap up the year left the Bobcats with little momentum heading into the postseason. 

The Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team gathers in a pre-game huddle before facing off against Dartmouth College on Nov. 3, 2023, at the M&T Bank Arena. (Nicholas Pestritto)

Quinnipiac was able to muster an ECAC quarterfinals win against St. Lawrence, but didn’t compete with Colgate in the semifinals. Its overall performance earned the Bobcats a place in the NCAA Tournament where they pulled out a triple-overtime win over Penn State before falling 5-1 to Ohio State in the Regional Finals.

In the end Quinnipiac never could reach the level of play it found in the early part of the season, which is why it should be hyper focused on not replicating its end-of-year slump. 

That’s not to say that it won’t be a challenge, however, as eight of its final 14 games are against teams that are currently ranked. Luckily for the Bobcats, seven of those games are in Hamden with their only road game being in New Haven against Yale. 

It won’t be easy, but if the Bobcats flip the script in 2024, they may just have the momentum needed to make a deep run in the ECAC and NCAA Tournaments come spring. 

 

Men’s Basketball: Getting (and staying) at full strength 

By Ethan Hurwitz

The men’s basketball team has gotten off to a 9-4 start to the 2023-24 campaign, but it hasn’t been without some bumps and bruises along the way. If the Bobcats want to make some noise in MAAC play and beyond, getting everyone to full strength is a must.

Freshman guard/forward Rihards Vavers has faced the brunt of the pain to begin his collegiate career. He was sporting a mask to open the year after getting elbowed in practice in the preseason. Once the mask came off, he dealt with an illness — one that traveled throughout the locker room — before suffering a knee bruise that sidelined him for a couple weeks.

First-year forward Rihards Vavers stares down the court during the Bobcats’ matchup against Navy on December 8, 2023. (Tripp Menhall)

“He drove into the baseline to catch a dunk and there was contact and he landed the wrong way and banged his knee,” head coach Tom Pecora said on Dec. 18. “They’re telling me (he’s out) 2-to-4 weeks … Let’s hope it’s two.”

Sophomore forward Amarri Tice and freshman guard Daemar Kelly both felt the blow of the team-wide illness, with Kelly (and Vavers) sitting out the Bobcats’ Dec. 11 loss to Yale.

“We had a couple guys get IVs before the game,” Pecora said at the time. “They felt better, but it didn’t appear to help … their ability to play great. You (have to) find a way, next man up.”

The MAAC is wide open this year and the Bobcats are poised to be one of the stronger teams ahead of conference play. But staying 100% healthy and injury-free will determine just how strong they can be.

“You can always get in better shape,” Tice said on Dec. 8. “I used to be injury prone … Now I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. Being in great shape helps us play (for) 40 minutes.”

 

Women’s Basketball: Finding a post-Grisdale identity

By Benjamin Yeargin

The headline has been hammered to the ground, but the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team will have to battle with and through the loss of junior guard Jackie Grisdale amid injury for the rest of the year.

Who’s going to score from downtown? Who’s going to handle the perimeter defense? How will the young backcourt manage in taking on more responsibility?

The Bobcats managed well in their MAAC opener against Rider on Dec. 18, winning 60-57 courtesy of a late go-ahead three from junior forward Grace LaBarge. But against Yale on Dec. 30, they were clobbered 72-48.

(From left to right) First-year guard Paige Girardi, Junior forward Grace LaBarge, First-year forward/center Anna Foley, First-year guard Karson Martin, Junior guard Jackie Grisdale all celebrate after Maine calls a timeout on November 6, 2023. (Tripp Menhall)

The Bobcats used six guards in the win at Rider and seven against Yale, the one extra guard being freshman Ava Sollenne. 

“We’re going to keep using a lot of people,” head coach Tricia Fabbri said. 

What’s going to be crucial is how the Bobcats will experiment with guards. 

Freshmen guards Paige Girardi, Karson Martin and Maria Kealy will continue to remain the primary ball carriers and keep their spots in the starting line-up. All three are interchangeable at the one through three, and all three could handle ball carrying. 

What will be interesting to see is the roles of the remaining guards. 

In the Bobcats’ Battle of Whitney Avenue with Yale, sophomore guards Bri Bowen and Sollenne shined. Bowen notched 10 points and was perfect beyond the arc and Sollenne tallied her first collegiate minutes and points, finishing with nine points off of three treys. 

Junior guard Reiven Douglas could also assume a lot of playing time and play a leadership role down the stretch.

The remainder of this year will be a test for Quinnipiac and its younger players, but it’s a test that the Bobcats must pass if they hope to have a deep run come March. 

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About the Contributors
Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor
Colin Kennedy, Associate Sports Editor
Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor
Tripp Menhall, Associate Photography Editor

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