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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac men’s hockey preview: line projections and schedule analysis

Aidan Sheedy

For the first time in its 48-year program history, Quinnipiac men’s hockey will take to the ice at M&T Bank Arena this weekend as defending national champions. 

But with that title comes a target on the Bobcats’ back. Every team wants to dethrone the king, and more often than not, someone does. Only three schools have won back-to-back titles since the turn of the century, most recently Minnesota Duluth in 2018 and 2019. If the Bobcats want to become the fourth, they have to once again harness a team-oriented culture while fostering significant growth in the team’s young talent. 



A lot has changed since that fateful night in Tampa six months ago. 12 players who lifted the NCAA Championship trophy have moved on. Eight signed pro contracts, two entered the transfer portal and two began their life after hockey. 

That leaves the Bobcats with a lot of holes to fill on their line chart, across every position. 

Forward Collin Graf returns for his junior season after tying the program record for points (59) as a sophomore (Peyton McKenzie)


Head coach Rand Pecknold refuses to use the designations of first, second, third or fourth lines to the media, insisting that all of his lines and pairings are created equal. But for the sake of this story’s organization, I will do the opposite. 

Up front, Quinnipiac’s top line of sophomore Sam Lipkin, junior Jacob Quillan and junior Collin Graf remains completely intact, despite serious NHL interest for all three. This will undoubtedly be each of their last years at the collegiate level, but for now they represent the most whole piece of the Bobcats’ championship core. 

“I wanted to play with Graf and Lipkin again,” Quillan said. “There’s also some other stuff to prove in the league, I think I can make the next jump … just (wanted) to get another year under my belt before I make any decisions.” 

The only other forwards that dressed in the title game that remain on the roster are the then-third line of junior Christophe Fillion, sophomore Victor Czerneckianair and junior Cristophe Tellier. 

This line shuffled considerably over the course of last season, most often replacing Fillion with the now-graduated Desi Burgart, but settled into the above combination after a strong NCAA Regional and presumably will continue this season. 

From here the blueprint becomes murkier, as Quinnipiac has to replace two entire forward lines from the championship team. 

“We’re excited to defend our national championship, but I think its a tall task in terms of what we lost,” Pecknold said. “It’s a lot right now in the month of September. I think we’ll get better as the year goes once we integrate (the new players) into our identity and our culture.” 

The Bobcats have to replace a prototypical Quinnipiac second line of Burgart, Skyler Brind’Amour and Ethan de Jong. This group fully fit the system of complete hockey that Pecknold preaches. They did the little things right: being hard on pucks, getting into lanes, disrupting plays with good stickwork and physicality, which ultimately led to turning defense into offense. 

Cornell grad transfer Zach Tupker looks like the ideal replacement at center for this line. At 6-foot-1-inch and 197 pounds, he fits the same physical mold as Brind’Amour. He was a nominee for the ECAC Hockey Defensive Forward of the Year Award in 2022-23, an award Brind’Amour took home. And while he might not quite be at the same level as Brind’Amour at the faceoff dot, Tupker was the second best faceoff man for the Big Red last season, at just over 55%. 

Sophomores Anthony Cipollone and Timothy Heinke make sense on the left and right wings on this line, respectively. 

Each is poised to step into a greater role after playing less than 15 games apiece last season. Heinke has the physical presence at 6-foot-1-inch and 194 pounds, but both possess the necessary sandpaper to wear opponents down and make an impact on the offensive end. 

The fourth line also promises to be youthful, as is the entire team. Freshman Mason Marcellus is the likely choice at center, with freshman Andon Cerbone on the left wing and senior Ohio State transfer Travis Treloar on the right. 

Marcellus and Cerbone were each bonafide stars in the USHL and share complimentary styles of play. The former’s elite vision and the latter’s speed and evasiveness could lead to noteworthy production in their first collegiate seasons. 

Treloar produced in all of his three seasons with the Buckeyes, notching 20+ points as a freshman and a junior and bringing an element of speed and skill as an outlet on the opposite wing. As an added chemistry bonus, his two full junior seasons in the USHL were spent with Lincoln and Chicago, the clubs Marcellus and Cerbone played for, respectively. 

Sophomore Alex Power and freshman Matthew McGroarty project to be the two extra forwards, while graduate student CJ McGee, who typically plays defense, acts as a swiss army knife that can play the wing if need be. 

Graduate student defenseman Jayden Lee was named Quinnipiac’s captain on Aug. 31. (Jason Bupp)


Predicting defensive pairings for this team is a little like trying to hit a bullseye blindfolded, but I’m going to do it anyway. 

Graduate student and team captain Jayden Lee will man the top pairing, but his partner remains a question mark. 

Lee spent most of the back half of last season alongside McGee, but played with sophomore Charles-Alexis Legault when McGee suited up as a forward. He also played significant minutes with senior Iivari Räsänen during the first half of the season. 

All of those combinations are plausible, but also none of them may be correct. To me, Legault seems like the most likely option, to pair a right-hander with Lee, who is also right-handed but accustomed to playing the left side. 

Legault, who was a fifth-round selection by Carolina in this summer’s NHL Draft, will take on a bigger role in his second collegiate season, building off the experience of a national championship campaign and an NHL development camp. 

Assuming Legault takes the spot on the top pairing, the bottom four will be some combination of Räsänen, McGee, senior Cooper Moore and junior Davis Pennington, the latter two transfers from North Dakota and Omaha, respectively. 

My best guess slots Räsänen with Pennington on the second pair for the offensive upside and then Moore and McGee to round out the group. 

Sophomore Jake Martin, a Wisconsin transfer, as well as freshmen Chase Ramsay and Nicky Wallace, are the three extra defensemen in this scenario. 



Quinnipiac’s goaltending situation is very reminiscent of 2021-22. That year, the Bobcats were beginning life without Keith Petruzzelli, the reigning ECAC Goaltender of the Year and Hobey Baker top-10 finalist who started every game the previous season. 

On the roster was Notre Dame grad transfer Dylan St. Cyr, who’s senior season with the Fighting Irish was his only campaign as a starter to that point. Alongside him was a budding freshman named Yaniv Perets. 

Two historic seasons later, the Bobcats have to move on from Perets, who earned all the same accolades as Petruzzelli and more. 

Now on the roster is BU senior transfer Vinny Duplessis, the projected starter, who was stellar in 25 appearances over three seasons backing up Drew Commesso with the Terriers. Alongside him is freshman Matej Marinov, a top-three netminder in the USHL last season, going 21-4-2 in the regular season with a .917 save percentage and 2.36 goals against average. 

Perets and St. Cyr split much of the first half slate two years ago, before the former took over the No. 1 role down the stretch. 

“It’s tough to replace Perets,” Pecknold said. “Vinny is really good. He’s had some success at BU, he’s older, he’s won the Beanpot, and then we really like Matej too. He had a great season in the USHL last year, so we’ll kind of let them battle out a little bit. Maybe we’ll split them early.” 

The one constant between the two teams is Noah Altman – then a freshman, now a junior with two minutes of playing time to his name and cult hero status in Hamden. 

Quinnipiac men’s hockey will play New Hampshire for the first time in program history this season. (Aidan Sheedy)


For the first time since 2018-19, Quinnipiac scheduled an exclusively East Coast non-conference slate this season, an 11-game lineup that’s poised to be stronger than a year ago and with a much lighter travel load. 

“There’s a trade-off, whether you have the travel or not,” Pecknold said. “I thought it was a lot of great bonding on the North Dakota trip… and then I thought the Belfast trip was outstanding from a cultural standpoint… so we have to make sure we bond as a group this year.” 

The Bobcats will make the rounds against all four Beanpot competitors, facing Boston College (Oct. 7), BU (Nov. 22) and Northeastern (Jan. 6), with ECAC games against Harvard scheduled for Nov. 4 and Feb. 2. 

Each is an opportunity to learn how to contain game-breaking, NHL-bound talent, like Cutter Gauthier and Will Smith of BC, and BU’s Lane Hutson, that Quinnipiac doesn’t see from many conference opponents. This will prove to be vital experience come NCAA Tournament time. 

Back-to-back series with New Hampshire and Maine in late October add to the schedule’s Hockey East flavor. Maine is the premier opponent of the two. The Black Bears shutout No. 1 Quinnipiac in Orono last October en route to a surprisingly successful season and look to take the next step this year with one of the country’s top recruiting classes. 

UNH will more than likely contend for the bottom spot in the conference, but that was said about Maine last fall, fanning the flames for the upset. It also pits the Bobcats against former teammate Jack Babbage, who transferred to Durham after his freshman season with Quinnipiac in 2021-22. 

A home-and-home with AIC in October and a late December matchup with Holy Cross make up the Atlantic Hockey portion of the schedule. 

AIC’s four-year reign as Atlantic Hockey champion came to an end last season, but the Yellow Jackets have retooled and are set for a comeback campaign in 2023-24. 

Holy Cross nearly turned a seventh-place regular season conference finish into an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2022-23 and look to build off that this season. It’s the sixth straight season Quinnipiac will play the Crusaders, who are led by third-year head coach and former Bobcats’ associate head coach Bill Riga and top scorer Liam McLinskey, a transfer from Quinnipiac. 

The other two non-conference games are against LIU on Dec. 9, and either against UConn or Sacred Heart in the CT Ice Tournament championship or consolation game on Jan. 27. 

The biggest dates in the ECAC slate are the two previously mentioned games against Harvard, a series against Colgate and Cornell in mid-November and January, games against Clarkson on Feb. 10 and March 1 and the rivalry game against Yale at M&T Bank Arena on Nov. 11. It’s the first time since the 2017-18 season that Quinnipiac will host the Bulldogs prior to the start of the new year. 

No ECAC team got significantly better in the offseason. In fact, many got worse, potentially opening the door for another dominant regular season by the Bobcats after a 20-2 in-conference record last year. 

For my full breakdown of each of the 12 teams in ECAC, click here.

Quinnipiac accomplished its ulimate goal last season. As the puck drops on a new campaign this Saturday, the question becomes: what’s next? 

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About the Contributors
Cameron Levasseur
Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor
Aidan Sheedy
Aidan Sheedy, Photography Editor
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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