From Oliver Chau to Dylan St. Cyr, the men’s ice hockey team’s graduate transfers are exceeding expectations


Alex Bayer

Graduate student forward Oliver Chau celebrates after scoring his second of three goals against Arizona State on Saturday.

Benjamin Yeargin, Staff Writer

Imagine devoting yourself to one team, building relationships and creating a legacy, but then it ends after four years.  After you graduate, something still lingers inside of you: a burning love and passion for the sport that’s been with you since childhood. You decide to play more hockey and become a graduate student.

No. 5 Quinnipiac welcomed five new graduate student players this year: forward Oliver Chau, goaltender Dylan St. Cyr and defenders Brendan Less, Griffin Mendel and Tony Stillwell.

Stillwell and Less transferred to Quinnipiac from within ECAC Hockey, where they represented Brown and Dartmouth, respectively. Chau transferred from UMass, St. Cyr from Notre Dame and Mendel from Denver.

Adapting to Quinnipiac has been easy for the graduate students as they came to campus in the summer and had some of the upperclassmen mentor them.

“The community has been accepting of us … the returning guys on the team have helped us through getting settled with classes and housing,” Chau said.

Chau had an illustrious career at UMass, totaling 84 points on 28 goals and 56 assists in 134 games. His playstyle at UMass mirrors that of former Quinnipiac star forward Odeen Tufto, who loved to disperse the puck. That playstyle was most evident in Chau’s senior season when he amassed 22 assists in 29 games played.

So far in the 2021-22 season, Chau has tallied nine points on five goals and four assists, recently earning a hat trick against Arizona State on Nov. 13.

While at Quinnipiac, Chau hopes that the Bobcat faithful sees that he makes the game fun and energetic with his style of play.

“I just try and make plays with the puck … and fans like goals so hopefully (I) get a couple of those too,” Chau said.

Chau was the only offensive player to transfer into Quinnipiac this year, with the rest being defenders and a goaltender. Mendel, Stillwell and Less came to replace key defenders Logan Britt, who transferred to Sacred Heart, and Peter DiLiberatore, who signed an entry-level contract with the Vegas Golden Knights.

St. Cyr’s presence combined with sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets will replace the astronomical gap left by goaltender Keith Petruzzelli, who was the 2021 ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Year and was named to the 2021 ECAC Hockey First Team.

Stillwell spent the past four seasons with fellow ECAC Hockey team Brown where he consistently earned double-digit points as a defenseman and got his body in shooting lanes, tallying 16 blocked shots in 2019-20, which he can bring to the Bobcats.

Less came to the Bobcats from Dartmouth where he was an ironhorse, playing in over 30 games two out of his three seasons as a Big Green. None of the Ivy League athletic teams played last year due to COVID-19, so Less hadn’t played a regulation college hockey game for close to a year and a half. Assimilating to Quinnipiac hockey has been easy for Less as he’s spent a lot of time with the team.

“Practicing with the team itself, I wasn’t really able to do that at all last year, so getting here early in the summer definitely helped … being around the team and taking it one day at a time helped,” Less said.

The final two graduate students, Mendel and St. Cyr, transferred from distant parts of the U.S.

Prior to arriving in Hamden, Mendel played four seasons with the Denver Pioneers where he put together quite the resume. He earned associate captain honors, played in 134 games and tallied 20 points.

Mendel also took home the Keith Magnuson Best Defensive Player Award in 2019-20 and 2020-21, an accolade given to the Denver Pioneers’ best defender every year. Transitioning from the NCHC to the ECAC Hockey has not been much different hockey-wise for Mendel, but the travel has impacted him.

“I’m used to playing two games at home or two games away against the same place and the same team and we flew everywhere,” Mendel said. “… I’m not really used to bussing, especially day-of bussing so it’s a little different.”

Mendel has played in every game for the Bobcats so far, most frequently appearing on the second line alongside junior defender Jayden Lee. He has been and should continue to be a defensive anchor for Quinnipiac, providing a foundation for which the rest of the team can thrive upon. Having already amassed 10 blocked shots and 17 shots, he’s clearly making an impact.

Finally, St. Cyr played his first four collegiate hockey seasons for Notre Dame. In his senior season, he started in 22 of the 29 games the Fighting Irish played, and he put up a 2.44 goals against average, .921 save percentage and three shutouts.

Graduate student goaltender Dylan St. Cyr has allowed 10 goals in six starts this year. Photo from Alex Bayer

St. Cyr is smaller than most college goaltenders — he stands at 5 feet, 8 inches and 167 lbs, while the average NCAA goalie is at least 6 feet tall. He compensates for his lack of size by being more active and agile in the net compared to other goaltenders, constantly pouncing on loose pucks with the reflexes of a cat. St. Cyr frequently plays with the puck, making stretch passes after collecting opposing dump-ins.

Regardless of where each graduate student Bobcat comes from, they all want to win not only for themselves, but for the spectators too.

“Fans like to win, so that’s obviously the ultimate goal, to win,” Chau said.

Quinnipiac sits at 9-1-2 (2-0-0 ECAC Hockey), looking to reach double-digit wins as it faces Clarkson on Friday, Nov. 19, at the People’s United Center at 7 p.m.