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Pecknold: “These kids are hungry, they want to win a championship”
Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold says his team’s success this year is a product of the character on his roster and an insatiable hunger to win games, which he discussed on Saturday afternoon as a phone guest on ‘The Pipeline Show,’ a college hockey radio program based in Edmonton, Canada.
“It’s an outstanding group of players,” Pecknold said. “They come every day to work and practice. That was the one thing in the spring that we talked about, being better in practice and coming to work and get better every day. We play with pace, we play with tempo and it translates into games.”
Pecknold went on to say it was a combination of factors that has carried the Bobcats up the national ranks. He first mentioned the NHL-caliber talent on his roster and highlighted goaltender Eric Hartzell and forward Jeremy Langlois as being his two most productive players.
“Those two kids have been my best two players but we’re a lot deeper than that. We’re three lines deep, the fourth line has been chipping in, and we have seven great defensemen that we’ve been rotating through. So it’s just a lot of depth, and it seems like every game it’s somebody different that finds a way to score and win for us.”
The Bobcats’ next game is on Friday against Brown, and launches the Bobcats on the last leg of what has been a very successful season. Their final 10 games will all be played against ECAC opponents, opponents the Bobcats have experienced success against in conference games this season and have an 11-0-1 record to show for it. They currently sit atop the ECAC standings, 3 ½ games ahead of second place and No. 8 Yale, who they play on the road Saturday night. As impressive as the conference record is, it is just one of many impressive statistics the Bobcats have compiled throughout the season.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic is the team’s record within the hostile confines of opponents’ arenas, where it has yet to suffer a loss.
“We’ve got a veteran team, and again I go back to the character. Guys have been there, they’ve played on the road at St. Lawrence, at Clarkson, at some of these difficult places before and got used to it,” Pecknold said. “We want to get out, play hard and try to jump teams. It doesn’t work every game but sometimes you’re up one or two before you know it. It’s usually a lot easier to do that at home, but again, good character and really good leaders.”
Captain Zack Currie has carried his role well and it can be seen by his stats and smart play. Currie has picked up just three penalties all season none of which have come in 12 conference games. He also has a +5 rating in those conference matches.
“My captain Zack Currie has been great,” Pecknold said. “Connor, Kellen Jones and Cory Hibbeler are all wearing letters for me. They’ve been great in getting these guys prepared and ready to go when the puck drops.”
Pecknold noted his team’s mindset throughout the season and recognized its ability to stay focused and energized throughout the entirety of a schedule that runs five months.
“We’re just absolutely relentless,” Pecknold said. “We’re relentless in practice, the kids compete. They guys are hungry, they’re excited, they just can’t wait to get to the rink every day. It seems like a simple thing, but it can be a grind in January and February whether it’s college, pro or junior hockey. Whatever you play, it can be a little bit of a grind and those guys are coming to the rink with a bounce in their step.”
Pecknold was also asked how he will prepare his team mentally and physically for the ECAC playoffs, and then what seems likely to be the Bobcats’ first berth into the NCAA tournament since 2002.
“I think the big thing is that we don’t do anything different,” he added. “What we’ve been doing is working. I really don’t think we need to change anything. These kids are hungry, they want to win a championship, they want to win hockey games – that’s probably why we haven’t lost in three months.”