Quinnipiac University, located in Hamden, Connecticut, may not be the first name that comes to mind when discussing top hockey programs. However, in recent years, the Bobcats have made a name for themselves on the ice, solidifying their position as a powerhouse in the world of college hockey. With three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and two Frozen Four appearances in the last four years, Quinnipiac has become a force to be reckoned with, and their ascent to success shows no signs of slowing down.
The rise of Quinnipiac’s hockey program can be attributed to a combination of factors, including strong coaching, consistent recruitment, and a supportive community. Built on a foundation of hard work and determination, the Bobcats have proven themselves as a team capable of competing with and often defeating some of the biggest names in college hockey. But what sets them apart from their competitors? How did this small university become a dynasty in the making? Let’s take a closer look at the recent success of Quinnipiac’s hockey program.
The Beginning of a Legacy
The Quinnipiac Bobcats first joined the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) hockey league in 2005 under the leadership of head coach Rand Pecknold. Pecknold, a former Bobcats player himself, began his coaching career at Quinnipiac in 1994, leading the team to success in their former division, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Northeast. Under his guidance, the Bobcats quickly rose through the ranks of the ECAC, securing their first conference title in the 2004-2005 season, earning them a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
However, it wasn’t until 2013 that the Bobcats truly made their mark on the national stage. Despite being labeled as underdogs, Quinnipiac won their second ECAC title and advanced to their first-ever Frozen Four appearance. In a nail-biting semifinal game against cross-town rivals, Yale University, the Bobcats fell just short of making it to the championship game. The following year, they returned with a vengeance, making it to the Frozen Four once again and this time, coming out on top as the 2013-2014 national runner-up.
The Rise to Prominence
After their impressive back-to-back appearances in the Frozen Four, Quinnipiac continued on their upward trajectory, dominating the competition and securing a place among the top teams in the country. In the 2015-2016 season, they set a school record with 32 wins, and once again, captured the attention of the nation by making it to the Frozen Four for the third time in four years. This time, they emerged victorious, defeating Harvard University in the championship game and earning their first national title.
The Bobcats’ success on the ice has not gone unnoticed, as they have consistently been ranked in the top 10 teams in the country and have produced several NHL-level players, including former captain Connor Clifton and current defenseman Devon Toews. Pecknold’s strong recruitment strategies have played a crucial role in the team’s rise to prominence, as he seeks out talented players with strong character, determination, and a team-first mentality.
The Quinnipiac Community
While strong coaching and talented players have been key factors in Quinnipiac’s success, the school’s tight-knit community has also played a significant role. With a small student body and a close relationship between students, faculty, and alumni, there is a strong sense of pride and support for the Bobcats’ hockey team. The community’s unwavering support has helped create a home-ice advantage for the team, with packed crowds at every home game and a loyal fan base that travels to support their team at away games.
Furthermore, Quinnipiac’s commitment to academic excellence has not been overlooked in their success. The team has consistently maintained one of the highest graduation rates in college hockey, emphasizing the importance of education and character development alongside athletic success. This dedication to the student-athlete experience has made Quinnipiac a top choice for aspiring hockey players, leading to strong recruitment and a competitive team year after year.
The Future of Quinnipiac Hockey
As Quinnipiac continues to build on their legacy, the future looks bright for the Bobcats. With a new state-of-the-art athletics facility set to open in 2020, the team will have access to top-tier training facilities and resources, further solidifying their position as a top program in college hockey. Pecknold’s unwavering commitment to developing a strong culture and recruiting the best players will undoubtedly continue, ensuring the Bobcats’ success for years to come.
The rise of Quinnipiac’s hockey program serves as a testament to the power of dedicated coaching, strong recruitment, and a supportive community. From underdogs to a dominant force in college hockey, the Bobcats have proven themselves time and time again as a team to be reckoned with. As they continue to make their mark on the national stage, it’s clear that Quinnipiac is a dynasty in the making and a program to watch in the years to come.