|Rand Pecknold's team enters as a top ten program in the pre-season polls|
The program lost eight players from last years squad including five starters on the back end including the starting goaltender in Andrew Shortridge who signed with the San Jose Sharks organization foregoing his final year of eligibility. Brogan Rafferty also departed early to the Vancouver Canucks while Chase Priskie, Luke Shiplo and Brandon Fortunato all graduated. Up front the Bobcats lost only two players of note in Craig Martin and Scott Davidson. Martin's 30 points will be tough to replace and the leadership of Davidson along with Priskie will also be missed as well. Freshman Matthew Cassidy also is not returning to the program and has headed to the USHL with the Youngstown Phantoms.
Despite the losses on the back end there is a lot of optimism in Hamden this season for another good season on the ice. Quinnipiac also opened as a top ten team in both the USCHO.com and USA Today polls. The team was also picked second in the ECAC coaches poll while they were picked third in the ECAC media poll. Cornell took the top spot in both polls. Junior forward Odeen Tufto was the lone Bobcat to be picked on the ECAC pre-season all league team as he is coming off back-to-back 40 point seasons.
|Odeen Tufto is expected to lead a talented Bobcats offense|
If there is a potential weakness to this team, its probably on the back end. With Chase Priskie, Brandon Fortunato, Luke Shiplo gone to graduation and Brogan Rafferty leaving after his junior season for an NHL deal with the Vancouver Canucks, the lone upperclassmen back there is senior Karlis Cukste. Quinnipiac has ten underclassmen on the back end. Sophomores Peter Diliberatore and Zach Metsa each got significant playing time a season ago and will need to step up as leaders on the back end and log a lot of minutes along with picking up the point production of the departed Priskie, Fortunato and Rafferty. Fellow sophomores Cam Boudreau and Marcus Chorney saw 21 games and 3 games respectively last season and the hope they can crack the lineup full time this year. Rand Pecknold has moved back forward T.J. Friedmann to defense which on the surface of it doesn't bode well for the defensive corps. In this bloggers opinion that screams of desperation early especially when this team has ten other defensemen on the roster. There are likely to be four scratches a night as coach Pecknold will likely play with seven defensemen on game days. Freshman Logan Britt, Wyatt Head and C.J. McGee should expect to factor highly into the mix. Each of them had successful junior seasons in the USHL, BCHL and NAHL respectively. Britt won the Clark Cup after getting traded to Sioux Falls. Fellow freshman Jayden Lee while undersized was accelerated to Quinnipiac this season after playing in the BCHL a year ago. He was expected to be part of the 2020-2021 recruiting class. It remains to be seen if he is ready for the collegiate level or if he was rushed to Quinnipiac when he could have used another year of seasoning in junior hockey. It may take the Bobcats a half season to get the defense settled out but they have good coaches on the staff who will figure out which parts fit where on the roster.
|Keith Petruzzelli will need a strong season if QU wants to reach the NCAA tournament|
Those three goaltenders will have a new goal-tending coach as Jared Waimon has moved on to a scouting position with the Tampa Bay Lightning that was well deserved. He has been replaced by former Bobcats goaltender and goal-tending coach Justin Eddy ('04), who returns to the program for a second stint after coaching back in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons for the Bobcats.
This will be a big challenge for Rand Pecknold and the coaching staff. While the talent is there, along with expectations high being a top ten team in the country, we have to remember this team has 22 underclassmen on the roster and there are expected to be some growing pains. Quinnipiac has the benefit of great coaches who will work to figure out how to put it all together and once they do it wouldn't surprise me to see this team competing for the Cleary and Whitelaw cups this year along with another NCAA tournament berth.
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