Freshmen helping Bobcats repeat success

Doug Manners

The freshmen on the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team may lack experience at the collegiate level, but that has not stopped them from lighting up the scoreboard lately. In the Bobcats’ 5-1 win over Army on Nov. 27, the freshmen tallied nine of Quinnipiac’s 15 points in the game.

Freshman defenseman Den Lefort, of Ajax, Ontario, scored his first collegiate goal in that game and also picked up a pair of assists. The three-point night earned Lefort Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week honors.

Lefort came to Quinnipiac after playing Junior A hockey in Wexford, Ontario last season. An offensive-minded defenseman, Lefort had more points than any other defenseman in the South Conference. He already ranks second in points among Quinnipiac blue liners with six in nine games played.

Lefort’s solid play in junior hockey caused schools to notice him. Several schools were interested in him, including some in the CHA and ECAC conferences.

“A lot of the schools wanted me to play another year of junior hockey,” Lefort said. “But Quinnipiac didn’t, which is why I chose to play here.”

Another freshman defenseman that has been producing points for the Bobcats is Matt Sorteberg, of Anoka, Minn. Sorteberg made an immediate impact with the Bobcats, scoring the game-winning goal in the team’s first game of the season. He was also the only freshman to be named to the All-Tournament team at the Quinnipiac Cup.

Sorteberg is one of just three freshmen to have played in all 11 games this season. He has scored two goals during the season and assisted on Lefort’s first collegiate goal in the game against Army.

“Sorteberg and Lefort both played really well (in the game against Army),” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “They’re starting to do a better job of playing like older kids instead of freshmen.”

Another freshman that is having a strong season for the Bobcats is forward Mark Van Vliet, of Dorchester, Ontario. Van Vliet has nine points on three goals and six assists for Quinnipiac. He leads the team in shots with 28 and was named Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week on Nov. 22 after tallying five points in a two-game series against Bentley.

Scoring goals is nothing new to Van Vliet. Last season, he recorded a whopping 49 goals and 100 points in 48 games played in the Ontario Jr. B league. He played for the same team as current Quinnipiac senior Matt Craig, of London, Ontario. Craig is the Bobcats’ leader in goals, assists and points.

For all eight of the freshman on Quinnipiac’s roster, the future is bright as they will have the opportunity to play three years in the ECAC, the league the Bobcats’ ice hockey teams joined over the summer.

“It’s definitely good news for us and I think it says a lot about our program,” Lefort said.

The Bobcats wait for the freshmen to continue producing this weekend when they host non-conference opponent Robert Morris on Friday and Saturday evening at the Northford Ice Pavilion. The Colonials are 3-10-1 overall, but all three wins have been against Atlantic Hockey teams.