Quinnipiac made a big statement last weekend with back-to-back 4-0 shutout victories on the road at Cornell and at Colgate last weekend. It was the first ever sweep of that two-game trip in Bobcats’ history and the first win over Cornell since 2018. The wins vaulted Quinnipiac into the fifth spot in both most national polls. More importantly, they’ve also opened up a bit of a lead in the ECAC conference standings, with 21 points through eight games, with second place Princeton at 16.5 points.
It’s an impressive start for a team that was picked to finish fifth in the ECAC in the league’s preseason poll and fell just outside the top-10 of the preseason national poll. So how are the Bobcats doing it?
Like most good hockey teams, things start on the defensive end for Quinnipiac. Starting goalie Corinne Schroeder used her bonus Covid year to transfer in from Boston University. Schroeder was very good as a sophomore and junior at BU, though her numbers took a bit of a hit during last year’s shortened Covid season, when BU only played 12 games. But Schroeder has been outstanding this season. She currently leads the nation with a save percentage of .971, allowing only six goals in nine games this season.
The defense in front of her plays a big role in that. The Bobcats are led by fifth-year senior captain Olivia Konigson, but have an overall very deep group. Their best performance of the season came on Saturday when they beat Colgate, who was ranked #5 at the time, by a score of 4-0 despite being outshot 38-13. Though the Raiders took a lot of shots, there were very few that felt dangerous thanks to strong, disciplined play by the Bobcats. It was the equivalent of watching a boxer throw a lot of punches, but having very few land.
On offense, the Bobcats are extremely balanced. They don’t necessarily have any star players, but they have a lot of really solid players. Junior Sadie Peart leads the team in scoring with 17 points, which is only tied for 30th nationally. But the Bobcats have seven different forwards with at least 10 points on the year. That type of depth, with three forward lines that can provide a consistent scoring threat while taking care of their own end of the ice, is going to be extremely difficult for most teams to match up with.
It might be hindsight to say it now, but perhaps this breakout season isn’t a major surprise for Quinnipiac. The Bobcats brought in a killer freshman class last season, but never really got the chance to show it off, between the weird Covid year that limited practice time and shortened game schedules.
But now, with a year of college hockey under their belt, what is now their sophomore group looks really, really good. Defensemen Kendall Cooper, who made two Canada U18 teams, a rare feat, and Maddy Samoshkevich, who made the US U18 team, have played a big part in the aforementioned deep blue line. Both are skilled players that can move the puck, and Cooper in particular has really been driving play and generating a lot of shots from the point. The forwards are led by Olivia Mobley, who was quietly one of the best Minnesota high school players over the past few years. Her combination of strength and skills make her really tough to defend against. Nina Steigauf and Sophie Urban have both been really solid contributors so far on the 2nd/3rd lines that have given the Bobcats that depth they rely on. It’s a really solid group and one that should only get better.
It might be a stretch to put the Bobcats in the same class as Wisconsin or Ohio State this year. Those two have clearly separated themselves from the pack. But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Quinnipiac compete for, and possibly win the ECAC this year, which is no small feat with five or six really solid teams in the conference. And any team that can defend as well as they do, is going to at least have a shot at pulling off an upset in the NCAA Tournament if they can manage to keep a game low-scoring and hope they pick up a goal or two.