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High hopes for rookie skaters
After finishing last season at an even .500 (18-18-3), the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team will hope to build on that success en route to their first Division I playoff appearance since 2002.
The polls were not rewarding for the Bobcats as the ECAC Coaches’ Poll ranked them eighth in the ECAC. To boot, the ECAC Hockey Writers and Broadcasters Association Preseason Poll projected them to finish 11th in the 12-team conference.
The Bobcats will have its largest freshman class in its Division I history, as it carries 13 freshmen in the 2009-2010 season.
“We’ve got some great freshmen,” said head coach Rand Pecknold. “Jeremy Langlois was player of the year and leading scorer in the Eastern Junior Hockey League last year, Darcy Oakes, who led the British Columbia Hockey League in scoring, and Reese Rolheiser, who led the Alberta league in scoring. So those guys could put numbers on the board.”
Pecknold spoke just as highly of his defensive newcomers as well.
“We have Zach Davies and Zach Currie who were all-stars in the British Columbia Junior League and Mike Dalhuisen, a big, tough, physical defenseman who was also an all-star (with Lincoln of the United States Hockey League),” Pecknold said.
Coach Pecknold will be expecting these 13 freshmen to provide this program with four (or more) productive years much like the performances of Brandon Wong and Reid Cashman in their freshman campaigns.
Repeating last season’s ECAC Hockey quarterfinals appearance will not be easy after the Bobcats lost five key players, one of which led the Division I ranks in points and assists in 2008-09, Bryan Leitch. Quinnipiac will also be missing David Marshall, who ranked second in points and fourth in game-winning goals last season. Pecknold will also be missing the other half of last year’s great power-play duo, senior captain Dan Henningson. The Bobcats also lost fifth-year senior defenseman Matt Sorteberg and goalie Bud Fisher.
“Eric Lampe and (captain) Jean-Marc Beaudoin are going to have to elevate,” Pecknold said. “Scott Zurevinski had a good year and we’ll be looking for him to step up for us as well.”
Pecknold will also be looking to seniors Brandon Wong and Mike Atkinson to step up and fill the massive void left by the scoring duo of Leitch and Marshall. Additionally, the Bobcats will return sophomore forward Spencer Heichman and junior defenseman Zach Hansen.
With the loss of Fisher, one big unanswered question remains between the crease for the Bobcats this season. Quinnipiac returns junior goaltenders Dan Clarke and Pat McGann as well as the addition of two talented freshmen stoppers, Eric Hartzell and Mathieu Cadieux. The one who will be suiting up between the posts for the Bobcats is still to be determined.
The Bobcats will begin the upcoming season with back-to-back games in Columbus, Ohio, against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Oct. 8 and 9.