During the first two seasons in the ECAC, Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey played mostly as the underdog. Following a trip to the conference championship last season, the Bobcats will not be sneaking up on anyone anymore.
In just their third season in the ECAC, the Bobcats were picked to finish second behind Clarkson in both the coaches’ and media poll.
In last year’s conference final, the Bobcats fell just short of advancing to the NCAA tournament, surrendering a two goal lead in the third period to the Knights, this year’s pre-season favorite.
Head Coach Rand Pecknold believes his team is capable of earning that opportunity again.
“We would like to finish in the top four in the conference to earn the first round bye,” Pecknold said. “That will increase our chances of winning the league title and advancing to the NCAA tournament.”
The Bobcats return 24 players from last year’s roster, but suffered a key loss in captain Reid Cashman.
Cashman, a three time All-American who is the Bobcat’s career leader in assists and games played, leaves a large hole to fill on the blue line.
Pecknold hopes the combination of six returning defensemen and three freshmen can fill the void.
“We have to overcome the graduation of Reid. Consistency from the blueline is a necessity for our team this season,” he said.
Freshmen Jake Bauer, Brett Dickinson and Zach Hansen will be depended on to make an immediate impact for the Bobcats.
While the defense may be a question mark, the offense returns 15 forwards from the highest scoring team in the conference last year.
Sophomore Brandon Wong, who led the ECAC in goals and points and was the runner-up for the National Rookie of the Year Award, will look to better his totals from last season.
The Bobcats also return one of the most dangerous lines in the country. Senior captain Jamie Bates will play alongside Ben Nelson and Bryan Leitch for the third season in a row.
The trio combined for over 100 points for the second consecutive season.
With almost the entire front line returning, Pecknold expects the same production and effort from his team.
“Scoring goals is definitely our strength. We’ve got a lot of dynamic goal scorers that are willing to go hard at the net and pay the price to score,” Pecknold said.
Freshman Isak Tranvik is the only newcomer at forward, but will be expected to compete for ice time as well.
“We expect big things from our freshmen. Hansen and Dickinson are solid in the back and Tranvik can make plays up front,” Pecknold said.
In an exhibition game versus Canada’s Ryerson University, the Bobcats showed the offensive fireworks they are capable of, defeating the Rams 10-0.
Freshmen goaltender Pat McGann earned the shutout.
McGann, along with now eligible Peter Vetri, will look to challenge Bud Fisher for time between the pipes.
Five different Bobcats scored, including a hat trick from junior David Marshall.
Marshall netted 17 goals for the Bobcats last year after a freshman campaign in which he scored a team-high 22 goals.
Bates will also look to take on the leadership role left behind by Cashman and will wear the captain’s “C” this season.
Pecknold has been impressed with his attitude thus far.
“Jamie was a great leader all spring and all summer. He’s done a great job and I expect it to continue throughout the season,” he said.
The Bobcats are being recognized in national polls as well. They were picked 14th in the USCHO.com poll, 13th in the InsideCollegeHockey.com poll, and 15th in the USA Hockey poll.
“It was good to be the underdog,” Wong said. “Now we are gaining respect and have to work even harder everyday to be successful.”