A preview of the Quinnipiac team by Rhonda R. McClure from The Pink Puck. Follow Rhonda and The Pink Puck on Twitter for all things hockey. And be sure to check out ThePinkPuck.com for articles and interviews—including coverage of The Friendship Four tournament, as Rhonda once again will be visiting Belfast for the tournament.
Quinnipiac University began to host a hockey team at the start of the 1975-76 season, beginning as a Division II team until 1998 when they elevated to Division I. They did not join the ECAC Hockey conference until 2005, when Vermont University, who will also take to the ice in this year’s Friendship Four, moved over to Hockey East. They also changed the name of their team, from the Braves to the Bobcats that year.
The 2012-13 season saw the team in navy and gold take to the national stage. After winning their first Cleary Cup—presented to the ECAC regular season chamption—they found they had received the number one overall seed in the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament. They would beat Canisius and Union to advance to the school’s first Frozen Four appearance. In semi-final play they beat St. Cloud State moving on to the championship game, where they were shut out by their archrival, the Yale Bulldogs. Quinnipiac earned a return trip to the Frozen Four championship game this past spring only to be denied victory once again, this time by North Dakota.
Rand Pecknold has entered his 23rd season as the Bobcats’ head coach. He is ranked sixth among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories with a 446-264-63 record at the end of the 2015-16 season.
The Bobcats current record is 10-3-1 overall and 5-1-0 in their conference. They have had a four game winning streak through this past weekend’s games. St. Lawrence University served their one conference loss to them in a shut out back on November 5th. Undoubtedly they will have a score to settle as they take the ice against the Skating Saints during the semi-final game on Friday at SSE Arena.
The University itself was founded in 1929 in reaction to the closing of Northeastern University’s New Haven Connecticut program at the beginning of the Great Depression—opening under the name of the Connecticut College of Commerce in New Haven. They changed their name to Quinnipiac College in 1951 in honor of the Quinnipiac Native American tribe that used to inhabit the New Haven area. In 1966 they relocated to their present campus in Hamdem, Connecticut and would change their name in 2000 to Quinnipiac University. The private university has an enrollment of 10,000 students.
Many of their hockey alumni have gone on to play professional hockey in leagues including the ECHL and the AHL. Two seasons ago saw two of their alums in the EIHL. Belfast Giants fans may have seen Ben Arnt dressed in the blue and white of the Coventry Blaze and Loren Barron in the white, red and blue of the Edinburgh Capitals during the 2014-15 season.
Quinnipiac will certainly be a team to watch throughout the 2016 Friendship Four Tournament.