Thursday, October 2, 2014

Acadia scrimmage to help Quinnipiac sort things out

Stopped by Quinnipiac this morning before practice to chat with Rand Pecknold and Sam Anas. Here's a few notes on the Bobcats, who take on Acadia, a Canadian University in Nova Scotia, in an exhibition Saturday night.

  • Pecknold, like most college coaches who open with a Canadian exhibition, feels he'll have a better read on his personnel after Saturday. "I like using it as an evaluation tool for our young players and our returners who haven't played a lot," Pecknold said. "It's a chance to show me they deserve to be a top nine forward. Put guys in positions to succeed and see how that all plays out. Last years game, a couple of kids struggled and they dropped down the depth chart." 
  • Senior forward Matthew Peca and junior goalie Michael Garteig won't dress. Pecknold doesn't see the need to play Peca, his top player. He'll still run five lines of forwards and eight defensemen in and out against Acadia. Garteig is firmly established as the No. 1 goalie, so freshman Sean Lawrence and junior Jacob Meyers will share duties.

  • Peca and Sam Anas will begin the year on the same line. Just who lines up at right wing on that line is still up for grabs. Freshman Landon Smith, the MVP of the BCHL, is being considered and will skate with Peca Saturday. "We also have to find balance on the lines," Pecknold said, noting that last October Peter Quenneville skated the first five games with Kellen and Connor Jones, and Anas with Peca before Anas was switched to the Jones' line. "Sam and Peca have played before, so there is chemistry and I think it will work. We just have to wait and play it all out."
  • College hockey in Canada isn't nearly at the level it is here, but Acadia should be a better test. It's ranked fifth in the Canadian Intrauniversity Sport poll.

  • Size isn't everything. At 150 pounds each, Boston College's Johnny Gaudreau and Anas were the two lightest every day players in the country last season. Gaudreau, now with the Calgary Flames, won the Hobey Baker Award. Anas was named the Tim Taylor Award winner as national rookie of the year. Anas, who Pecknold estimates played the bulk of last season at 145, bulked up to 160 in the offseason after a summer of weights and changes to his nutrition habits. "It's helped my skating a lot," Anas said. "When you're heavier, you're more powerful on the ice.I was glad that I was gaining weight as I was skating in the summer because you always hear of people taking off time, putting on a bunch of muscle and their games has completely changed. It was nice to be able to skate four times a week in the summer and still gain weight."

  • Pecknold would like to see Anas become a more complete player this winter. "He had a great year. The chemistry between he and the twins, it was the perfect complement. I think he's going to have to do more this year. I want to be sure he becomes a better defensive hockey player and we can use him late in the game with a one-goal lead. I think that will happen. He was adequate defensively last year; we need him to be above average. He should make that jump this year, especially if he wants to play pro hockey." Expect to see Anas more in 4-on-4 situations with the Jones' twins gone.
  • Three of the top five scorers have graduated. Look for Tim Clifton, Tommy Schutt and Soren Jonzzen, all fourth line forwards last year, to increase offense. Defenseman Alex Barron will likely be counted on to kill penalties as a forward, much like Zach Currie a couple of years ago, until another forward establishes himself.
  • Pecknold raved about the compete-level of practices and cohesiveness in the locker room. It's nothing new for him, but without leaders and workhorses like the Joneses and Cory Hibbeler, and nine freshman and a transfer, he wasn't sure what to expect. "There hasn't been much difference," Anas said. "Everyone has made an effort to be extra vocal and include freshmen in everything. We try not to look at them as freshmen versus returning players, we want to be one group with a family aspect. Obviously, they are freshman and there's a learning curve with everything.


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