Frozen Four dreams could be realized

Nick Solari

A day after playing out a 1-1 draw against an unranked Brown team on Friday night in Providence, the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team faced one of its toughest challenges of the year.

Riding an NCAA Division I record 18-game streak without a single loss, the Bobcats would travel to the not-so-friendly confines of Ingalls Rink in New Haven and square off with ECAC rival then No. 8 Yale only one night later. It was one of the most anticipated games of the year for both teams, and it didn’t disappoint.

Upon finding themselves in a 2-0 hole in the game’s first 6:45 Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold called a timeout.

Following the break, his team quickly regrouped and rattled off six straight goals to tame the Bulldogs and extend their lead in the ECAC standings to seven points.

“After Yale’s second goal, we were great the rest of the way,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said Monday afternoon. “I think we might have been a bit too emotional out of the gate, but the guys regrouped. We got it going after that timeout, won some races to the puck, and finished strong.”

“We have a lot of character and confidence in that locker room,” Pecknold said. “It’s a hard combination of ingredients to have, and we have it right now. We’re fearless. We don’t feel like we can lose any games.”

Perhaps he feels that way because the last time his hockey team has experienced the feeling of defeat was on November 6, almost three months ago.

Still, though, the relentless bunch finds itself No. 2 in the USCHO poll to Minnesota, who has lost twice since that very date. In fact, they lost two first place votes in the latest rankings, extending their record to 9-0 against ranked opponents this past week.

And yet, that doesn’t concern the 18-year coach one bit.

“It doesn’t phase me,” he said on Monday afternoon after practice. “For us, it’s all about where we are in the Pairwise and where we are in the ECAC. That’s all that we can control. The polls are great for the fans and the media, but ultimately we’re first in our league and first in the Pairwise, that’s what we want.”

Pecknold has also tokened his team’s success on his veterans. Senior forward Russell Goodman, understands just what it means to be ranked so high.

“It’s a bit tougher now with every team,” Goodman said. “They’re going to bring their A-game, so getting two points is always tough. Yale was a perfect example of that, and an awesome game for us. We had a slow start but we came back after that timeout with some goals and the team was rolling. We just have to keep on doing what we’re doing to be successful.”

The Bobcats will be tested next week when they travel to conference foes Cornell and Colgate.

“They have to stay focused,” Pecknold said, referring to his bunch. “The minute we go onto the ice thinking we are going to win simply because we are the better team is when we will lose. As long as we pay attention to detail and continue to compete we will be alright.”

For the rest of this week, it’s business as usual for Quinnipiac. They will continue to practice the same way as they have throughout the season, and take each challenge on a game-by-game basis.

This type of formula has worked for them so far, as they continue on their quest for a conference championship, and even a trip to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh.

“For me, I feel we can play any given team on any given night and win,” coach Pecknold said. “If we play well we can beat anyone. Are we the most talented group? No, but as a group we’re confident in the way we play.”

“All year the mentality hasn’t changed much,” Goodman said. “We just want to win a championship, and that’s the goal.”