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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Non-‘flashy’ path to Quinnipiac propelling Mason Marcellus to breakout freshman season

Peyton McKenzie

It took Jacob Quillan four games to score his first collegiate goal. It took Sam Lipkin 11. Cristophe Tellier didn’t find the back of the net until his sophomore season. But for Quinnipiac men’s hockey freshman forward Mason Marcellus, it took just 55 minutes.

“People aren’t going to admit that they’re worried about it, but everyone wants to get their first,” Marcellus said. “Being able to get it right away in that first game, and the time that it happened, it was kind of perfect for me.”

Marcellus broke a nearly two-period-long deadlock to force overtime against Boston College on the Bobcats’ banner night, a bit of redemption after his own errant pass gave the Eagles the lead 40 minutes earlier.

“I owed the boys a goal after that first one,” Marcellus said.

Two games later he found the back of the net again, an early tally in an 8-0 thumping of AIC. Then he scored the go-ahead goal in a come-from-behind win over New Hampshire, a no-look backhander out of mid-air that earned No. 6 on the SportsCenter top-10 plays of the day.

“That third goal, Marcellus, that’s nuts,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said after the game. “That’s pretty special, pretty special player.”

Marcellus added another goal the next weekend against Maine, making him just the fourth Bobcat in the last decade with four goals in his first month of college hockey — a feat that earned him ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Month honors for October.

With the departure of six forwards from Quinnipiac’s national championship roster, Marcellus had a role carved out in the Bobcats’ offense from the outset — an opportunity he has fully embraced.

“Rand kind of said (that) he sees a lot of potential in me, but it’s up to me on how much of that I bring out,” Marcellus said. “I personally think I have a lot of potential and I should be a big player on this team as long as I keep rolling and keep playing well.”

Scoring is nothing new for Marcellus. Nineteen of his team-leading 68 points last season with the USHL’s Lincoln Stars were goals, including a couple on rival-turned teammate, freshman Matej Marinov, a goaltender for the Fargo Force who helped beat Marcellus and Lincoln in the league’s Western Conference Finals.

“I made a few jokes because I scored on him a few times last year and he’s my roommate,” Marcellus said. “But obviously they beat us, so I can’t really say too much.”

But that season almost never happened. Marcellus initially committed to join Quinnipiac in 2022-23, until conversations with Pecknold and Lincoln head coach Rocky Russo led him to stay for a third year of junior hockey.

“I was talking with my coach in Lincoln, and he was like it was probably best if I go back, have a really, really big role on that team and get a lot of ice time and develop that way,” Marcellus said.

That decision worked out for the best for both sides.

“In his first year he really started to understand the compete-level side of things and the effort that he had to make to create offense,” Russo said.

“And then an offseason of getting stronger and faster enabled him to have such success last year.”

It’s not the first time in his young career that Marcellus has pivoted or taken an unconventional route. An Ontario native, he moved to the U.S. as a junior in high school to go to prep school in Vermont. There were conversations about going the Division III route, but a 107-point senior year and a point-per-game season in the AJHL landed him a college offer at Alaska Fairbanks, which he jumped on.

“My first year of juniors in the AJ(HL) is where I realized I kind of do have a little more talent than some of these guys so I do have a chance (to play college hockey),” Marcellus said. “It was super rewarding because I took a not super flashy path.”

But after just two preseason games with Lincoln in 2021-22, he decommitted, thinking Alaska would “be a big trip.”

That’s where Quinnipiac comes into play.

“I think it was that same week that (Quinnipiac) reached out to me,” Marcellus said. “They offered me a tour on Monday (or) Tuesday, I went on the tour, loved every bit of it.”

Quinnipiac freshman forward Mason Marcellus scores his first collegiate goal to tie the game
late in the third period against Boston College on Oct. 7. (Aidan Sheedy)

It was a dream come true for Marcellus, whose introduction to college hockey came from watching the 2016 Bobcats, a team that won 32 games and stormed its way to the national championship game.

“Quinnipiac was the team that got me into college hockey,” he said. “When I was here, it was like everything I wanted and then I think it was that same week I committed.”

Seven years after watching the Bobcats fall in the national championship, Marcellus watched them finally reach the top of the mountain last spring — this time as a commit. He saw the comeback unfold in Lincoln’s locker room, just minutes after finishing a game of his own.

“Rocky has his own office with a TV, it was ahead of where our TV was,” Marcellus said. “So right when the puck dropped (in overtime), Rocky came running into where we were watching and didn’t say a word, but everyone was like,‘holy cow, why is he here? What’s going on?’

And then obviously they score 10 seconds in and everyone went crazy.”

Seven months later, now sharing a locker room with many of the players from that national championship roster, he’s hoping to help the Bobcats do it again.

“You’re always kind of judged based on the last year,” Marcellus said. “I want to be a part of a team, a legacy that has a win. I don’t want to be just a guy that comes in and doesn’t win anything. I think it’s definitely fueling (us) a lot.”

And if the first month of his collegiate career is any indication, Marcellus seems poised to do just that.

“I think he’s going to be one of the best freshmen in the country,” Pecknold said. “His skill set’s excellent. His hockey IQ is elite and he fits what we do so well. He’s an elite character kid. We’re excited for the year he’s going to have — actually for the career he’s going to have for us.”

It’s going to take more than just Marcellus to pull Quinnipiac back to the pinnacle of the sport — the Bobcats have started the season 5-3-1 after losing only four games all of last year. But the 21-year-old freshman, a “tone setter” on and off the ice seasoned by three years of junior hockey, has made his impact known in Hamden. Don’t expect that to end anytime soon.

“He’s a guy that can carry a line,” Russo said. “He can turn the momentum back to your team every time he’s on the ice and he’s not willing to ask his teammates to do anything that he’s not willing to do himself … guys can rally around him because he’s the first one to do the little things.”

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

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