Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quinnipiac primed to maintain its success

A trailblazing season at Quinnipiac provided enough milestones and benchmark victories to redefine the program.
A school record 21-game unbeaten streak; the Whitelaw Cup; its first NCAA tournament win and first trip to the national semifinals. 

There would be no story book ending, however. Its historic trip to the Frozen Four ended Saturday night with a 4-0 loss to Yale in the national championship game at Consol Energy Center.

But there’s much to look forward to in Hamden, where a new standard of success has been established.

Quinnipiac is now a player on the national scene; a program capable of national accomplishments.

Eleven seniors graduate, including goaltender Eric Hartzell and four defensemen, while a handful of others may entertain professional offers.
Hartzell was among the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. He’ll sign an NHL contract soon, very likely in the coming days.

While he leaves a void in net, Hartzell’s status as a Hobey Baker candidate may well be filled by Matthew Peca. The sophomore forward, a draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, said Saturday night he planned to return to Quinnipiac for his junior season.

That’s big news considering his performance on the big stage. Peca took his game to another level in the NCAA tournament, winning most outstanding player at the East Regional and proving to be a handful even in defeat.

Connor Jones, a draft pick of Edmonton, said he’d return for his senior season, meaning his twin brother Kellen Jones, an undrafted free agent, will surely be back, too. Winnipieg draft pick Jordan Samuels-Thomas may also have a decision to make.

The loss of leading scorer Jeremy Langlois, a senior who finished his career with 100 career points, fellow forwards Ben Arnt and Clay Harvey as well as defensemen Zack Currie, Zach Davies, Loren Barron and Mike Dalhuisen leave more holes in the lineup.

But one of the benefits of success and national media attention is more interest on the recruiting trail. Recruits are familiar with the program; phone calls are returned quicker.

Pecknold said next year's incoming class includes a handful of "studs" that Quinnipiac beat other top hockey schools for, a few of which, he says, have NHL potential.

Pecknold has also lined up the most difficult non-league schedule in program history, with eight Hockey East opponents and a season-opening trip to play Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks in Anchorage.

There’s also a brand new NHL-caliber scoreboard on the way, complete with a massive, high-definition video board as well as ribbon boards to be installed around High Point Solutions Arena. More proof that the school administration is committed to maintaining Quinnipiac’s current level of success.

Welcome to the big time.


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