Arizona State is playing in its first-ever NCAA Tournament game this Saturday against the Quinnipiac Bobcats.
Quinnipiac hails from the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). They won their conference regular season title with a 25-9-2 overall record and a 14-6-2 clip in conference play. However, they were bounced by Brown University in the ECAC Quarterfinals. Nonetheless, due to their solid regular season, the Bobcats were a lock for the postseason.
Quinnipiac is coached by Rand Pecknold, who is in his 24th season at the helm in Hamden, Connecticut. He is currently third in wins among active NCAA Division I coaches. His 2018-19 team features a Hobey Baker Finalist on the blue line and one of the best goaltenders in all of college hockey. The Bobcats also have a lethal power play that scores over 25 percent of the time when the unit is on the ice.
Here are a few other things to know about the Bobcats and the matchup prior to Saturday:
What Time/Where to Watch
Players to Watch
Quinnipiac senior defenseman Chase Priskie was on this year’s Hobey Baker Award list. He is one of the top blue-liners in the country and he is second on the team in points. He held a +20 +/- and he has 22 assists.
Among others, sophomore forward Odeen Tufto, leads the Bobcats in points with 42. Quinnipiac has a variety of players with speed and skill, and Saturday likely will be an up and down affair.
Between the Pipes
Saturday could be an up and down affair, but that doesn’t mean there will be a lot of goals. In net, Saturday’s game will feature one of the premiere goaltending matchups in all of college hockey this season. It will be ASU junior Joey Daccord versus Quinnipiac junior goaltender Andrew Shortridge.
Shortridge has a .941 save percentage and he is allowing under two goals per game. He also has familiarity with Daccord on the other end of the ice. The two netminders used to train together with Daccord’s father, who is a goaltending coach back in the Northeast.
“Him and I trained together. My dad is a goalie coach back at home and Shorty used to come train. I know him pretty well and we have hung out before,” Daccord said. “He’s a really good guy and he’s having an incredible year. I am excited for the matchup.”
Although ASU is only in its fourth year of existence and the team still hasn’t played every program in college hockey, the Sun Devils do have familiar ties with Quinnipiac.
With the postseason matchup, ASU will have played Quinnipiac in each year of the team’s existence thus far. The Devils faced Shortridge at Gila River Arena last year and fell 5-3. The night prior, ASU tied Quinnipiac at Oceanside Ice Arena. All-time, ASU is 1-3-1 against the Bobcats, with the lone victory occurring in 2017. Then sophomore forward Anthony Croston had two goals in the contest.
What the Players/Coaches had to say about the opponent:
Coach Powers: “Their structure is incredible. Rand is one of the best coaches in college hockey and what really is spectacular about what they do is on special teams with both the power play and the penalty kill. We are going to try and play as much five-on-five as we can. Discipline is paramount, but structurally they are as good as it gets. They always have been.”
Anthony Croston on facing Shortridge: “I am not that type of guy that is going to pick my corners every time. I think it’s about battling in the corners and getting pucks to the net and bodies to the net. I think if we do that, we’ll score a bunch of goals.”
-Sophomore forward Johnny Walker said he is feeling good and ready to go for this weekend and he is back at 100 percent. He was his lively self on Tuesday in practice, and he had some words for any critics of the program afterwards.
“I actually love that,” said Walker about people dismissing ASU entering the tournament. “I think people from Minnesota or anywhere else go, ‘They have a hockey program? Yeah, we are actually in the tournament. Minnesota’s not (in reference to the Golden Gophers).’ You can laugh at it it or do whatever you want, but at the end of the day, we have a game on Saturday to compete to get to the next round of the national tournament. 16 teams get to do that. We are excited and honored, and it’s even better to kind of rub it in the faces of the naysayers and show them that we are for real.”