The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team has two terrific senior captains, Matt Erhart and Dan Ennis.
Both players have provided some much needed leadership on a young team which has led to the success of the team so far this season. Ennis, a Kitimat, British Columbia native has had a divergent road to his senior season compared to Erhart.
Ennis has been here the longest and is one of the oldest players in the league. For big number 11 his career at Quinnipiac began as a freshman in the 1998-99 season. As a freshman, Ennis played in every single game for Quinnipiac and his talent matched his dedication as Ennis was named the 1999 MAAC Defensive Player of the Year.
In his sophomore season Ennis continued to grow and pride himself on his defensive skills. Ennis, who has a 6′ 3″, 230 pound frame, started to establish himself as one of the most physical defenseman in the league. His sophomore season was full of accolades as he scored 29 points, which included six multiple goal games.
Dan’s storybook career turned to a different page when five games into the season when a game against American International turned very emotional.
On a play in the Quinnipiac end, Ennis went down to the ice and collided awkwardly against the boards. After receiving medical attention for an extensive period of time the big defenseman was helped off the ice and would not return.
Ennis had done a severe amount of damage to his knee, which caused him to redshirt the rest of the season. For Ennis, sitting out wasn’t easy, but he kept his chin up.
In 2001, Quinnipiac made the MAAC Championship versus Mercyhurst in 2000 but came up a goal short falling 6-5 to the Lakers. It is hard to say what would have happened if Ennis played the entire season and to tell if things may have ended up differently, but that is behind him now.
The Bobcats are hoping that this will be the year for back to back MAAC titles.
During last year’s championship season in 2002, Ennis played a huge part of Quinnipiac quest toward their first ever NCAA tournament birth.
Last year, Ennis was third among defenseman with 15 points, and second among defenseman in games played with 37.
Playing hockey is something Ennis loves to do, there is no doubt about that, and he has the numbers to back it up.
Both Ennis and Matt Erhart recently broke the career games record set by Mike LaRocca last year at 133 games played. Ennis and Erhart have played in 135 games, and counting. After Dan’s redshirt season, it gave him a new appreciation for the game of hockey.
“I’m just happy to be in the line up, every game that I possibly could,” said Ennis.
Ennis played junior hockey in the British Columbia Hockey League where a season consisted of up to 70, games compared to the 35-40 in college. Ennis gained great experience there and have applied it to his college career.
For Ennis is there a key to staying healthy?
“You have a little aches and pains, put some ice on it, put some stim on it, and take care of you body, or otherwise you aren’t going to be able play every night,” said Ennis.
Last weekend Ennis came up big as he scored the game winning goal against Sacred Heart with 7:53 remaining in regulation, as Quinnipiac won 4-3, and maintained their first place position in the conference.
Ennis has found himself in the line up, but has also found himself in the penalty box as well throughout his career. Going into the game against Bentley, Ennis led the team in penalty minutes.
“Somebody’s has got to lead the team,” said Ennis. “Part of my game is being physical and setting a presence out on the ice. There are a lot of guys in the league that a little lighter than I am, and it doesn’t take much for me to toss them down.”
“In the refs eyes I guess it’s a penalty, and in my eyes it’s just overpowering another player,” he said. “I take a lot of penalties for just being big, some of them are probably my fault, but at the same time, a larger player is bound to take more penalties.”
In what will be Dan Ennis’s final year at Quinnipiac he would love to leave his legacy with one more MAAC Championship. Despite the set back with the recent losses to Mercyhurst and Sacred Heart, he knows the Bobcats are headed in the right direction, and the key will be peaking at the right time.
“This is a character team, we have had some trouble of late, but you have to battle through it,” said Ennis. “There is no letting up, you put your jersey on and you come ready to play every night, and we can’t take a night off.”
The Bobcats travels will take them out to Colorado Spings, Colorado this weekend for two non-conference games against Air Force. After the two games out west the team will return for games all against MAAC opponents.
One of the biggest games is scheduled for March 1, against UConn at Madison Square Garden.
“If we can stretch together and we can get our game where we want it to be we should be ready for the playoffs,” Ennis said.
One thing is for sure: Ennis will be ready for every single game.