Trying to ‘Cash’ in on monster season

Doug Manners

Reid Cashman could have played for some of the best college hockey programs in the nation. Among those schools interested in Cashman’s services was the University of Denver, the reigning NCAA champions.

But Cashman was seeking something that none of those schools could provide him with – immediate playing time at the collegiate level. Rather than go back to junior hockey for another season, the sophomore defenseman opted to play for Quinnipiac, a move that has paid immediate dividends.

Cashman was named earlier this month as one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, which honors college hockey’s top player. The national leader among defensemen in points, Cashman is the first Quinnipiac player to be nominated for the award. This year’s winner will be announced on April 8, the day before the championship game at the NCAA Frozen Four.

“He led our league in scoring, which is almost impossible to do as a defenseman,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “He’s certainly a dynamic offensive player that really controls and quarterbacks the power play.”

Players from the two weaker Division I conferences, Atlantic Hockey (formerly the MAAC) and the CHA, are rarely nominated for the Hobey Baker. Over the past six years, only three of the 60 finalists have been from those conferences, making Cashman’s nomination even more impressive.

“I was completely shocked when I got the call from coach Pecknold,” Cashman said.

Cashman, however, certainly has the credentials to be deserving of the nomination. Voted the Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year, he is believed to be just the second defenseman in the modern college hockey era to lead a Division I conference in scoring.

Cashman more than doubled his point production from his freshman season, tallying 45 points (13 goals, 32 assists) in 37 games. All but 11 of those points came during Quinnipiac’s final 18 games, when the Bobcats went 15-3 to reach the Atlantic Hockey championship game.

“He went on a big run late in the year and there’s no question he was our main catalyst,” Pecknold said.

Pecknold credits Cashman for getting stronger over the summer. Through strength and conditioning training, the 6’1″, 190-lb. blueliner became a bigger physical presence on the ice during his sophomore season.

“He was able to hold kids off a little longer and make plays,” Pecknold said. “It helped him become a better defensive player and made him a better skater.”

For most the season, Cashman was paired with freshman Matt Sorteberg, another defenseman with plenty of offensive pop. The two Minnesota natives were put together during the first day of practice and finished the season as the top offensive defensemen in the conference.

“We really feed off each well, which makes things much easier for me,” Cashman said. “He has the best shot on the team, and maybe in the entire league.”

While only a sophomore, Cashman has already established himself as one of the best players ever to suit up for Quinnipiac. And he is exactly the type of player that the Bobcats will depend on over the next two seasons as they adjust to the higher level of play in the ECAC hockey league.

“The best thing about Reid is his work ethic and commitment to excellence,” Pecknold said. “He’ll strive to be a better player next year, and he’ll strive to be a better player for his senior year.”