Murphy’s Law: Milestone mania

A closer look into how Rand Pecknold got to 500 wins and how Chase Priskie reached 100 career points

By on December 30, 2018

An NHL venue. A dominant victory. And a night full of milestones for the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team.

Returning from its holiday break, the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team dominated Colgate in a 6-0 win at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York on Saturday night. The win included two freshmen’s first career goals, senior defenseman and captain Chase Priskie’s 100th career point and head coach Rand Pecknold’s 500th career win.  

“Yeah, you just want to get it out of the way and move forward,” Pecknold said of the milestone. “It would’ve been nice to get it at UMass, but they’re a really good team. I’m happy with the year we’ve had so far. We still have some work to do. I thought tonight was a really good team effort.”

Morgan Tencza | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
Pecknold is known for bringing Quinnipiac from a low-level D-II program to a highly-touted D-I dynasty. But it wasn’t always easy for the him.

After Pecknold was hired at Quinnipiac at the age of 27 in May of 1994, Quinnipiac went 6-15-1 in his first season as head coach. His second season, the team went 11-12-4.

“Year one, what I accomplished was survival,” Pecknold said. “Practicing every night, I wasn’t making any money, so I had to teach my guys about surviving. It was crazy. It was really about getting through year one, and I remember year two, the big thing was moving from a midnight practice to a 9:40 p.m. practice. It was heaven…So it was more about survival in those early years.”

Once Pecknold got through his first two years of coaching, he found a winning stride and hasn’t looked back. Since then, Pecknold’s teams haven’t had a sub-.500 record until last season. Not bad, eh?

In his 25th year at Quinnipiac, his team closed 2018 with a 15-3-0 record, a No. 5 ranking and sit at second in the ECAC Hockey standings. For a career, Pecknold has had 20 winning seasons, two conference championship wins (one MAAC win in 2002 and one ECAC Hockey win in 2016), five NCAA tournament appearances and two NCAA Frozen Four appearances.

He is currently the third-winningest coach among active D-I coaches, only behind Jerry York of Boston College and Rich Gotkin of Mercyhurst University.

When it comes to the formula of success, Pecknold credits the players and coaches for the success he has had.

“I think the one thing that we’ve had over the 25 years is we’ve just had high-character players,” Pecknold said. “Certainly we’ve had a ton of talent and then a really good staff. My assistants have been excellent, our strength coaches have been excellent over those 25 years, our goalie coaches, athletic trainers, equipment, everything has been excellent.”

While Pecknold gave the nod to his fellow coaches, associate head coach Bill Riga praised Pecknold and how he takes into consideration the opinions of everyone on the coaching staff.

“Everyone’s voice is equal,” Riga said. “In the end, [Pecknold] makes the decisions and all, but it’s all advice is taken and everyone’s input comes into the game plan every weekend. He’s the boss, he makes the final calls, but for him to allow us to have as much input, we’re thankful for that and it works well with our dynamic.”

Part of that dynamic is the recruiting process, in which Riga and associate head coach Joe Dumais helm. The two of them, as well as other associate before them, like Reid Cashman, have been responsible for going and looking at getting players to come to Quinnipiac.

Priskie explained how it wasn’t necessarily about the talent that the coaches bring in, but who the players are that helps with the winning.

“I think the biggest thing is recruiting not only good players, but good character kids,” Priskie said. “When you get a team that really commits and buys in to the identity that we want to play to and how we want to play hockey, it makes it a lot easier to coach that team.”

While Pecknold lets his associates take the reins on the recruiting, once those kids are at Quinnipiac, it’s Pecknold who molds them into Quinnipiac hockey players. With that, comes instilling the Quinnipiac identity into them.

“I think it just comes down to freshmen year, they only showed us one way to play and that’s the Quinnipiac way, our identity that we talk of” Priskie said. “That was the only thing we really knew, so we threw everything else out the window. Rand likes to use blind trust. We just have a lot of faith in him. As I got older, I’ve realized a lot of the stuff we do has put us in the place to win.”

With Pecknold’s accomplishment being the big highlight of the night – as rightfully so – Priskie himself had a milestone night that is worth noting. His two assists brought his career point total up to 100. He became only the fourth defenseman in Quinnipiac history to reach the century club.

Morgan Tencza | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
It’s only one more mark in a career year for Priskie. In addition to this achievement, he earlier broke the record for career goals by a defenseman at Quinnipiac, and is currently tied for seventh in the nation in points, first in points among defensemen, tied for third in the nation in goals and is in second in power play goals. His 12 goals lead the team and he is second on the team in points with 23.

“I think a lot of my goals this year have been from [shooting with my head up],” Priskie said. “I gotta give credit to the guys, they do such a good job of putting me in situations with the puck, or getting open for me to find them. They’ve made it really easy this year.”

Priskie has constantly put his teammates before him, no matter how many individual accomplishments he gets. But there’s been no doubting what he himself brings to the team.

“[Priskie] is such a high character person,” Pecknold said. “He’s been a great captain, obviously having a great year and he’s been our best player.”

While Priskie will be wrapping up his Quinnipiac career this spring and most likely be heading to the professional level, Pecknold is here to stay for at least another few years. Over the summer, he signed a contract extension through the 2022-2023 season, and doesn’t seem to be looking to go anywhere else.

“It’s my life,” Pecknold said. “I’m very fortunate to be at Quinnipiac. I don’t think I’ll do another 25 [years] but I don’t think I’m going anywhere right now.”

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