Monday, April 8, 2013

Quinnipiac chomping at the bit

Little different atmosphere at today's Quinnipiac press conference. Last week it was a sea of TV cameras and reporters. Today? Only me and Bob Mortali from WQUN-1220. No complaints on my end. It's been a small but dedicated group of media all season until recently. And today was the calm before the storm we'll see in Pittsburgh, starting with Wednesday's open practices and press conferences.

A couple of quick notes:
  • Proud new papa Rand Pecknold (and his wife, Nikki) have a bouncing baby boy, born Wednesday. Pecknold said Rex Thomas Pecknold is healthy, though dad is a bit sleep deprived.
  • Preparation for St. Cloud hasn't changed Quinnipiac's approach much. "What we'll focus on is what we've done all year long. Our system works, it's been proven over and over again. We will have some things we'll tweak and adjust for St. Cloud. The adjustments for St. Cloud might be similar to what we did for Nebraska-Omaha, for Yale, and some of the teams that rely on transition and high-powered offenses. It's not going to be completely foreign what we do with St. Cloud."
  • Quinnipiac players are no stranger to winning big games. Five players have won a combined seven Royal Bank Cups as Canadian Major Junior national champions (Connor and Kellen Jones won two each, Matthew Peca, Travis St. Denis and Mike Garteig one each.) Among the others are former USHL league champs Loren Barron (Indiana) and Ben Arnt (Omaha) and Bryce Van Brabant, who won two Alberta Junior league championships. "It's a big part of the reason we've had success this year," Pecknold said. "You have that kind of winning culture, it permeates through the locker room. When you recruit, you want talent, but you want character, you want captains and kids who know how to win."
  • Pecknold, as a member of the NCAA ice hockey selection committee, attended the Frozen Four in Tampa last season. So he can prepare his team for what to expect in terms of hoopla, hype and crowds: red carpet treatment, 100-foot posters, police escorts and capacity crowds pushing 20,000. "We've talked a couple times about not being overwhelmed," Pecknold said. "They treat you like a rock star. It's important our guys know that's coming and we deal with it appropriately. We need to be grounded and we need to be competitive."
  • Peca said the biggest and loudest crowds he's ever played in front of are the 4,500 or so at Quinnipiac who jam the place for Yale. He says the players won't be negatively affected by a crowd roughly five times that size on Thursday. "As players, you feed of it," Peca said. "If anything, it makes us better."
  • Senior defenseman Loren Barron says there's a noticeable difference in the style of play between Eastern and Western hockey teams. "Especially in the ECAC, its a lot more systematic and defensive-minded. The game is shut down a bit more, not as much flow. When you go to the Midwest teams its a lot more open with more room for individuals to shine, mostly because of the bigger ice, as opposed to more of a team game."
  • Pecknold, Peca and Barron all said practices over the past week have been excellent. Quinnipiac is feeling the magnitude of what lies ahead, and that energy has taken on a life of its own during practices. "To put closure on it, especially as a senior, we came to the same spot in the (ECAC) playoffs three years in a row," Barron said. "For us to finally not only break that spot but move ahead is an amazing way to recap four years. The freshmen might not realize how hard it is to get as far as we got. For the sophomores and juniors, they know how difficult it is. It's a fairy-tale way to end the season."
  • Quinnipiac will fly to Pittsburgh tomorrow via charter jet. Team Register will be hitting the highway in our custom whip tomorrow, too. We'll have full coverage from the Steel City starting with Wednesday's open practice and press conference.


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