Some new faces are present on the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team this year. Four transfer students have come to the university from three different Hockey East schools. The players are John Dougherty and Dan Travis from the University of New Hampshire, Mike Atkinson from the University of Vermont and Peter Vetri from UMass-Lowell.
“The program is on the up, the new rink is coming in and the move to the ECAC,” said blueliner John Dougherty about his reasons for choosing Quinnipiac. “The players, the coaches and the campus have all been really great.”
What makes it tough for transfer students is that they cannot transfer to another school and begin playing right away. Per NCAA rules, any player who transfers from one Division I NCAA school to another must sit out an entire year before they are eligible to begin playing for their new team. However, head coach Rand Pecknold does not necessarily believe that this is a bad thing.
“The one thing that happens in a positive light for a transfer is that in the one year they have to sit, it is a tough year to sit, but it is usually a good maturation process. The player is almost always a much better hockey player after having to wait a year to play,” Pecknold said.
John Dougherty and Dan Travis have proven their coach’s theory correct having already made an impact on the team after sitting out the entire 2005 season. Dougherty has played solid defense for the Bobcats while also chipping in on offense. The Toronto Maple Leaf draftee has averaged just under one point every two games, an impressive stat for a defenseman.
Meanwhile, his former UNH teammate and current Quinnipiac teammate, is tied for second on the team in points. Travis, who was drafted by the Florida Panthers, has averaged a point a game and is contributing heavily on the power play.
The addition of Travis and Dougherty has had a lot to do with Quinnipiac’s fast start. As a team Quinnipiac has compiled a record of 5-3-2, with two losses coming to perennial college hockey powerhouse North Dakota on the first weekend of the season.
Atkinson, another forward, will be eligible to play after Christmas break. Atkinson joined the team just after Christmas break last season. The transfer from Vermont has had Jan. 4 marked on his calendar for quite some time now. It is the scheduled date for Atkinson to make his first appearance in a Quinnipiac Bobcat sweater. Needless to say for Atkinson this game is well overdue.
“I haven’t played a legit hockey game since my senior year of high school,” Atkinson said. “I’ve been waiting for about two years to play, so I’m really chomping at it right now.” As for what Atkinson can bring to the team, his presence should help the team in doing the “dirty work.”
“My role is probably going to be a PK (penalty killer) guy, and a defensive forward. Being the guy who blocks shots and does the grind work will be my best asset to the team,” Atkinson said.
Vetri, a former Hockey East rookie of the year in 2004, must sit out the entire 2006-2007 season before he will be eligible to play next fall. He will look to make an impact between the pipes next season, but for now will continue to help the team in practice to prepare for Fridays and Saturdays.
With the talent of Quinnipiac rising every year, all players seem to feel that they can be put among the elites in the ECAC.
“Not only do we have a boat load of talent on this team, but we also have the character to really make a run at it this year,” Travis said.
With the addition of these transfer players and the talent that exists within the rest of the team, Quinnipiac surely has the fire power to make some noise at the end of this season. A possible NCAA tournament berth may lie in the near future, and the possibility for these players to have a shot at their former teams.