After offseason overhaul, all three men’s ice hockey goaltenders share one goal: Keeping pucks out of it

Cameron Levasseur, Staff Writer

For the first time since the 2019-20 season, the starter between the pipes for the Quinnipiac Bobcats men’s ice hockey team will not be named Keith Petruzzelli. In fact, all three of the goaltenders on the team’s roster heading into this upcoming season were not Bobcats this time last year.

“We’ve got a totally new crew from last year,” Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey goalie coach Justin Eddy said. “Obviously Keith graduated and now he’s in the pro ranks, Evan Fear ended up transferring to Northeastern and Josh (Mayanja) graduated so he’s gone too.”

Sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets, the team’s longest-tenured goalie, joined the team in Jan. 2021. (Contributed by QU Athletics)

Of the three goalies joining the team in Hamden this season, there is one returner: sophomore Yaniv Perets. Perets, a Quebec native, joined the team in mid-January of this year after the COVID-19 pandemic shortened his season with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL.

“The staff is great, the guys are great, everything’s great,” Perets said. “In terms of school, the teachers have been great also. So it’s been a pretty good transition.”

Perets played 32 minutes in two games for the Bobcats during the latter half of the 2020-21 season, saving all nine of the shots he faced.

“He was just thrown into a team that had already been together for a long time, and I think he handled it really well,” Eddy said. “He’s been on two or three different junior teams, he’s moved around since he was a younger guy, so it was a very easy transition for him.”

Another former BCHL product making the jump to college with Quinnipiac this season is freshman Noah Altman, who played for Wenatchee Wild in 2019-20 before the pandemic forced him to shift gears and play for the Bismarck Bobcats of North Dakota in the NAHL last year.

“For me, this last year was a very difficult year,” Altman said. “I wasn’t able to go back to the junior team I played for two years ago, so I ended up getting an opportunity in the NAHL, it didn’t go super well for me.”

The opportunity to come to Hamden came late for Altman, who was weighing a number of options before committing to the Bobcats in early August.

“It kind of came to me needing to make a decision whether I wanted to play Division III hockey, club hockey somewhere or to continue to try to pursue a Division I spot,” Altman said. “It (ended up) being basically last minute, I got a call from our assistant coach and he offered me a spot and at that point, it was a no-brainer.”

From an organizational perspective, the coaching staff saw the potential that Altman possessed.

“He’s a really interesting character,” Eddy said. “He’s so raw, he started playing (hockey) when he was 13, most guys start when they’re like five, and he’s already playing Division I hockey, so it’s like, ‘Where can he go from here?’ He’s a really good kid and works hard, so I’m looking forward to seeing how much he can soak up from Dylan (St. Cyr) and Yanni.”

The 21-year-old Los Angeles product is an intimidating figure on the ice, standing at 6 foot, 7 inches, before lacing up his skates.
“Obviously, when you’re bigger, you take up more of the net,” Altman said. “I think my size has 100% afforded me a lot of opportunities, because when you see a goalie that’s 6’7, it definitely catches your eye.”

While his size may have granted him opportunities on the ice, it also earned him quite a reputation in the locker room.

“People will comment on how uncoordinated I can look at times, which is pretty funny,” Altman said. “I’ve gotten the nickname of Kevin Durant, which I know is sarcastic, but I’m going to take it anyways.”

Unlike the other two, St. Cyr, the Bobcats’ third addition on the backend, is no stranger to college hockey. Coming in this year as a fifth-year graduate transfer, St. Cyr spent the last four seasons manning the net for Notre Dame. Appearing in 22 games last season, he posted an 11-9-1 record to go along with a .921 save percentage and a 2.44 goals against average.

“He’s in this new group of guys who are taking advantage of almost being like a free agent and going where they want,” Eddy said. “So we were extremely lucky that we were in the mix to get him.”

Before his career in South Bend, Indiana, St. Cyr. played junior hockey in the USHL with the USNTDP, competing in the top American junior league alongside current NHL players such as Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes, Ottawa winger Brady Tkachuk and Philadelphia winger Joel Farabee.

“I was pretty lucky,” St. Cyr said. “I live two minutes away from the rink (in Plymouth, Michigan), so most guys are moving from all around the country, and it was actually closer (for me) than my original hockey team was.”

During the two-year stint, St. Cyr played internationally with the USNTDP in the 2015 U17 World Hockey Challenge in British Columbia and the 2018 U18 World Championships in Slovakia, taking home the gold with a 4-2 win over Finland in the latter tournament.

“I think it’s just a special feeling anytime you get selected,” St. Cyr said. “Because you never know when that next opportunity will come again, or if it is ever going to arise again. That was definitely an experience that I’ll never forget and probably at this point the pinnacle of my career playing wise, so being able to emulate something like that this year would be very exciting if we could win a championship here with Quinnipiac.”

Graduate student goaltender Dylan St. Cyr played in an NCAA championship game with Notre Dame. (Contributed by Michael Caples)

Building upon his championship prowess from junior hockey, St. Cyr’s freshman year with Notre Dame saw the Fighting Irish make a playoff run all the way to the national championship game, falling 2-1 to Minnesota Duluth.

“You never really know when you’re going to get back there, or if you ever do,” St. Cyr said. “It’s kind of been something that I’ve used as motivation to fuel myself for the last few years. So I’ve been excited to get back to that same point because it’s a pretty awesome experience that not many people are fortunate enough to get.”

While all three newcomers are competing for the same starting spot in the lineup, they all share the same goal, both literally and figuratively.

“I think, just obviously, as a team goal it’s winning championships,” St. Cyr said. “The rest will take care of itself.”

The other two held a similar sentiment.

“For the team, the goal is obviously to win championships,” Perets said. “I feel like we could do that if we put our minds to it, keep working every single day and keep getting better.”

“Team goals for sure are to win the ECAC and then eventually try to win a national championship,” Altman said. “I just want to do whatever I can for this team, whether it’s taking extra shots in practice or whatever it is just to make sure everybody is ready to go.”

The Bobcats open the season next weekend in the Icebreaker Tournament in Worcester, Massachusetts, facing off against No. 6 Boston College Friday afternoon before going head-to-head with No. 18 Northeastern on Saturday.