Thursday, September 18, 2014

Notes from Quinnipiac Media Day

Quinnipiac put together a fall media day today, bringing in coaches and player's from men's and women's hockey as well as men's and women's basketball. Here's a few men's hockey notes to pass along.

** Matthew Peca, whose NHL rights are owned by the Tampa Bay Lightning, says the dream of winning a national championship is what brings him back to Quinnipiac every year. "Our team has had great opportunities to win the last few years," Peca said. "This is the last kick at the can. We have a team that can win a championship and that's one of the main reasons I'm here, to help our team team win an championship, win our league and go out winners."

** His pro career will begin somewhere in the Lightning system, but Peca says the team has never pressured him into leaving school early. "Based on my conversations with them, it's really been up to me," Peca said. "They're happy with where my development is, and how I'm doing as a player here at school. So really they said it's up to me whenever I'm ready. We haven't talked in much detail as to where I'll be after this season, where I'll end up. They don't hound me, which is good, they kind of just let me play." 

** Quinnipiac is in the process of finalizing a bid to bring the annual Ice Breaker Tournament to High Point Solutions area in October 2016. The annual tournament brings together top teams from four different conferences and marks the traditional start to the college hockey season. Quinnipiac athletic director Jack McDonald said the deadline to submit bids is next month, with a winner picked by Dec. 1. Typically held in larger arenas, often at off-campus sites, High Point Solutions Arena would be one of the smallest venues in the 18-year history of the tournament. Exempted from the NCAA limit of 34 games (meaning participating teams can play the Ice Breaker in addition to its 34-game schedule,) it should attract top teams from Hockey East and the Big 10.

**Tickets will be even harder to come by at Quinnipiac this season. Eric Grgurich, executive director of the TD Bank Sports Center, says the school has sold 1,900 season tickets for this season. That's an increase of 400 from last year, and 700 since the Bobcats reached the 2013 national championship game. Since an additional 1,000 seats are reserved for students, that leaves only around 300 and change for the general public (not including standing room only.) As it stands, only SRO is available for Yale's visit on Feb. 20. Harvard, Cornell and the home-opener against Bentley "are close" to sellouts, according to Grgurich.

** Dan Federico's first NHL developmental camp also provided him a chance to skate with the newest addition to the Bobcats defensive core. Justin Agosta, a transfer from New Hampshire and eligible right away, was also in Montreal for the Canadiens' camp. "He's a dynamic offensive player and a big, tough guy," Federico said. "With (Zach Tolkinen) we lost a big body, but Justin should fit right in."

** Junior goaltender Michael Garteig had the perfect summer. He flew home to British Columbia to be best man in a friend's wedding, spend time with the family and attend his first NHL camp in Vancouver. The experience with the Canucks, he says, was an eye-opener. "It was something that definitely motivated me," Garteig said. "I didn't know what to think when I went in there. I had  nothing to lose as an older guy and a college free agent, but there was a lot to gain and I think I gained a lot. It motivated me to want to play pro hockey in two years, or whenever it might be. I know it's a realistic goal, and knowing it's a realistic goal puts shivers down my spine."

** Sam Anas attended the Washington Capitals camp prior to arriving in Hamden two summers ago, there as an unknown with a local tie (he's from Potomac, Maryland.) A big freshman season -- he was the Division I national rookie of the year -- brought him attention and options. He went to Montreal's camp as a commodity. It changed his mindset, an attitude he says will carry over to his sophomore campaign with the Bobcats, where he is expected to be paired with Peca on the top skating line. Matching offensive numbers aren't as important to him as becoming a better all-around player and leader. "I enjoy that responsibiluty. Most teams I've returned to, I've been a captain, I've been a leader. I like that role. As a freshman, you're worried about other things. Now, I think some guys look up to me and I want to set a good example on and off the ice."

** Half-practices began Monday, not enough time to judge much, Pecknold said. But he tossed around a few plans for his personnel, which will include Peca and Anas on the same line to begin the season. "We just need a wing," Pecknold said. He also mentioned moving Travis St. Denis to center and keeping the brother combinations together. Jonah and Nathan Renouf, the newest set of identical twins, join Canon and Bo Pieper, separated by a calendar year.


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