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10 things to know about Quinnipiac ahead of this weekend's series against UND

The No. 8 Bobcats and No. 3 Fighting Hawks will meet in a battle of top-10 teams.

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UND forward Connor Ford battles with Quinnipiac forward Ethan De Jong on Friday in People's United Center.
Photo by Rob Rasmussen
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GRAND FORKS — Here are 10 things to know about Quinnipiac before the top-10 showdown between the No. 8 Bobcats and No. 3 UND Fighting Hawks in Ralph Engelstad Arena this weekend (7:07 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday).

1. Veteran team

Quinnipiac has seven fifth-year seniors on its team — more than a quarter of its roster.

That's tied for the most in college hockey. Michigan State and Merrimack also have seven. UND isn't far behind. The Fighting Hawks have six, as do Notre Dame and Bowling Green.

Quinnipiac's seven are defender Zach Metsa, forward Ethan de Jong, forward Michael Lombardi, forward T.J. Friedmann and forward Desi Burgart, as well as defenseman transfers Jake Johnson (RPI) and Jacob Nordqvist (Lake Superior State).

That means Quinnipiac has some of college hockey's most accomplished players — as evidenced in the statistics.

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2. NCAA's active leading scorer

Quinnipiac has the nation's leading career scorer — de Jong.

The North Vancouver, B.C., product has 107 career points, including three this season. He has hit the 10-goal, 25-point mark in every season except the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 campaign.

De Jong is five points ahead of the NCAA's No. 2 active scorer — someone UND fans know quite well. That is Ashton Calder, who played three seasons at Lake Superior State and one at UND. Calder is now at Penn State, where he has two goals in two games for 102 career points.

De Jong has played in 145 career games, which is second nationally to Bowling Green's Taylor Schneider (151).

3. Metsa's big numbers

One of the biggest surprises in college hockey's offseason was Metsa's decision to return rather than sign a pro contract.

Metsa is tied for the most career points by a defenseman with 86. Derek Daschke, who spent four years at Miami before transferring to Minnesota Duluth this fall, also has 86. The only defensemen within 20 points of them are Minnesota's Jackson LaCombe (68) and Bemidji State's Elias Rosen (67).

This weekend's series will feature four of the top six career plus-minus leaders in the country, led by Metsa. He's a career plus-59. Only Minnesota State's Andrew Carroll (plus-63) is better.

Penn State's Paul DeNaples is third at plus-51, followed by Quinnipiac's de Jong (plus-49), UND's Ty Farmer (plus-47) and Quinnipiac's Lombardi (plus-47).

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4. Blistering shot advantages

Quinnipiac routinely outshoots its opponents — and badly.

Going back to the start of last season, the Bobcats have outshot their opponent in 42 of 44 games. The only two teams to outshoot them? UConn and St. Cloud State. Quinnipiac won both of those games.

The Bobcats have outshot their opponent by double digits in 29 of those 44 games. It has been an advantage of 20 shots or more in 12 of them.

They've frequently done it by holding opposing teams to low shot totals. Since the start of last season, Quinnipiac has held its opponent to 20 or fewer shots on goal in 28 of 44 games (60 percent).

UND knows what it's like. Quinnipiac held the Fighting Hawks under 20 shots on goal in both contests last season in Hamden, Conn. Quinnipiac held a 28-16 advantage on Friday and a 36-19 advantage Saturday. The teams split that series.

Quinnipiac has lost just seven times since the start of last year. It outshot its opponent in all seven of those games, and did it by double digits in six of them. The last team to beat Quinnipiac on both the scoreboard and the shot-counter was Minnesota State-Mankato in the 2021 NCAA tournament.

5. College hockey's shutout king

Quinnipiac has college hockey's active career point leaders for both forwards and defensemen, but it's not just the offensive categories the Bobcats sit at the top.

Goalie Yaniv Perets is the NCAA's active career leader in shutouts with 12. He has only started 33 games in his career.

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Perets had 11 shutouts last season to lead the nation — one more than Hobey Baker Award winner Dryden McKay of Minnesota State-Mankato and one more than Mike Richter Award winner Devon Levi of Northeastern.

Perets had better numbers than McKay in nearly every category, including his goals-against average (1.17) and save percentage (.939).

6. Potent power play

UND coach Brad Berry and some Fighting Hawks players stressed the importance of keeping Quinnipiac's power play in check this weekend.

Quinnipiac's top unit is loaded with Metsa running it from the top, Union transfer Collin Graf in the left circle, de Jong between the dots, Christophe Tellier in the right circle and rookie Sam Lipkin on top of the net.

Graf, who was second on Union in both goals (11) and points (22) last season, has been a key addition to the group. He scored a power-play goal on a one-timer against Long Island University on Sunday. Graf also can distribute. He often looks to pass to Lipkin for backdoor tip-ins. UND let a similar seam pass get through against Holy Cross last weekend, but Drew DeRidder got over and made a save.

While Quinnipiac runs a typical 1-3-1 power play with its first unit, it switches it up on the second unit, using two defensemen at the points.

7. NHL connection

For the second-straight weekend, the son of an NHL head coach will be playing against UND in The Ralph.

Last week, Dallas Stars coach Peter DeBoer's son, Matt, was on Holy Cross.

This week, Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour's son, Skyler, is on Quinnipiac. The Hurricanes will likely be in Seattle on Saturday night awaiting a Monday game against the Kraken and Dave Hakstol.

Skyler is one of the top players for the Bobcats. He's a center and will take most of Quinnipiac's draws. The Edmonton Oilers draft pick had 20 points last season.

8. Chasing Gotkin

Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin is the active leader in career victories with 588.

But Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold could catch Gotkin for that distinction this season. Pecknold is on his heels at 582 wins.

Mercyhurst is 0-5 to start this season. Quinnipiac is 1-0-1.

Pecknold is in his 29th season at the helm. The only coaches who have been at their schools longer than Pecknold are Gotkin (35th season), Ferris State's Bob Daniels (31st) and Colgate's Don Vaughan (30th).

9. Recent teammates

A few players in this series were teammates a year ago.

Graf played with UND defenseman Ryan Sidorski at Union, while Lipkin played alongside UND's Jackson Blake with the Chicago Steel in the United States Hockey League.

This series will feature four of last season's top 20 scorers in the USHL — Blake (77 points), UND's Owen McLaughlin (72), Lipkin (71) and UND's Dylan James (61).

10. Early arrival

Although most teams arrive in Grand Forks on Thursday for a Friday-Saturday series, the Bobcats came a day early.

They arrived on Wednesday and practiced in the early evening in Ralph Engelstad Arena. They also held an early afternoon practice in The Ralph on Thursday.

The Bobcats haven't often played outside of the Eastern Time Zone. In fact, their only trip to the Central Time Zone in the last decade was to play in the 2015 NCAA regional in Fargo. UND beat Quinnipiac in the first round.

Quinnipiac's games outside the Eastern Time Zone in the last decade have been:

  • March 27, 2021 — 4-3 OT loss to MSU-Mankato at NCAA Loveland (Colo.) Regional.
  • Nov. 2, 2019 — 4-1 loss at Arizona State.
  • Nov. 1, 2019 — 5-3 loss at Arizona State.
  • Jan. 20, 2018 — 5-3 win at Arizona State.
  • Jan. 19, 2018 — 2-2 tie at Arizona State.
  • Nov. 26, 2016 — 5-1 loss to Vermont in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • Nov. 25, 2016 — 0-0 tie vs. St. Lawrence in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • March 27, 2015 — 4-1 loss to UND at NCAA Fargo Regional.
  • Oct. 12, 2013 — 4-1 win over Alaska (Fairbanks) in Anchorage.
  • Oct. 11, 2013 — 3-1 loss at Alaska Anchorage.

Quinnipiac has been to Grand Forks once. The Bobcats opened the 2006-07 season in The Ralph. UND swept 6-1 and 4-2. An 18-year-old named Jonathan Toews had three goals and four points in the series finale.

No. 8 Quinnipiac at No. 3 UND

When: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena (tickets available).
Records: Quinnipiac 1-0-1, UND 2-0.
TV: Midco Sports Network (GF Ch. 27/622 HD).
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).
Stream: NCHChockey.com.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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