Monday, May 12, 2014

Quinnipiac recruiting class a family affair

Quinnipiac hasn't quite cornered the market on brothers, or identical twins for that matter. But the Bobcats have done well on the recruiting trail making the most of households with multiple college prospects. So while the campus has bid farewell to the Jones twins, they should prepare to welcome two new sets of brothers in the incoming class. Identical twins Jonah and Nathan Renouf and the Piepers, Bo and Canon, separated by a year -- highlight the 10-man recruiting class assembled by Quinnipiac.

Also on their way to Hamden this fall: forwards Landon Smith, Andrew Taverner, Nelson Gadoury and Tanner MacMaster, defenseman Kevin McKernan and goaltender Sean Lawrence. Justin Agosta, a transfer from the University of New Hampshire, also joins the roster and is eligible immediately, giving the Bobcats a 29-man roster for the upcoming season.

It's a group with the potential to be the finest single class ever assembled at Quinnipiac.

"From top to bottom, the depth of skill level and point production...let's put it this way, at the end of four years, this is going to be a special group; a group where people look at it and say 'Wow, they're losing all these guys,'" said Quinnipiac assistant and recruiting coordinator Bill Riga "There's a lot of different intangibles. If all goes as planned, this might be the best class we've ever had."

Several should make an impact right away, helping replace voids left by the Joneses, Bryce Van Brabant and Jordan Samuels-Thomas. Not the least of whom is Smith, leading scorer in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League, had offers from Denver and North Dakota. A goal scorer (he had 43 this winter) Smith has skills to convert from anywhere on the ice.

MacMaster, just 18, became available after he de-committed from Boston College. Although slowed by injuries this season, he had 11 goals and 29 assists for Camrose of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he teamed with fellow QU recruit Gadoury. Riga said McMaster's skill level is similar to that of Matthew Peca.

Taverner, also out of the AJHL, is another explosive scorer who finished with 28 goals and 34 assists at Sherwood Park. At 5-11, 182 pounds, he's roughly 30 pounds heavier than McMaster, though both are considered late-round possibilities for next month's NHL Entry Draft.

Lawrence, named most valuable player of the USPHL, went 29-8-3 with a 2.06 GAA and .932 save percentage for the Boston Jr. Bruins. Several schools were after his services. He's expected to compete with incumbent goalie Michael Garteig for playing time right away.

Gadoury is cut from the mold of Van Brabant, a physical, power winger unafraid of getting dirty in front of the net. He had 28 assists and 40 points while amassing 148 minutes in penalties for Camrose. "He has a lot of emotion to his game," Riga said. "We expect him to fill that physical element left by Bryce."

The Piepers, both 5-11 and 180, emerged as scoring threats this season in the BCHL after two seasons on the checking line. "I don't think we can ever replace the Jonses, but they bring the energy and tempo and pace that the Joneses bring," Riga said. "We're hoping their offensive upside continues to develop. But they go all in every shift, all out, up and down the ice, full tempo, compete level, Minnesota kids, great kids."

The Renoufs, listed at 5-8, 155, are skill players who thrive on puck movement and the power play. Riga said they'll need to get stronger this summer, though he noted Sam Anas' success at 150 pounds last winter. "They have that chemistry together," Riga said. "They don't have the same speed or oomph that the Joneses had, but between them and the Piepers, they bring many of the same elements."

McKernan, also from the Junior Bruins, is a 6-foot, 180-pound defenseman Riga likened to Dan Federico. "They look similar on the ice, they kind of skate similar," Riga said. "Kevin has more of an offensive upside, but it's tough to find kids as solid defensively as Dan is."

The 11 incoming players replace nine lost to graduation and early departure. That includes Peter Quenneville, who left the program in November, and Brady Rouleau and Zach Luczyk. Rouleau has informed the Quinnipiac coaching staff he plans to transfer to Division III SUNY-Plattsburgh. Luczyk is still undecided, but believed to be looking into some Atlantic Hockey programs.


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