Saturday, April 6, 2024

Excitement and Patience await the 2024-2025 Quinnipiac Men's Ice Hockey Team

Quinnipiac saluting its fan's after an overtime win over Wisconsin

Coming off the most satisfying four year stretch in Quinnipiac men's ice hockey history, excitement and patience await for the 2024-2025 squad. After 110 wins, four ECAC regular season titles, four NCAA tournament appearances, three regional finals, a Frozen Four which cumulated in the program's first ever National Championship in the 2022-2023 season, new challenges await for next years team.

Gone are the likes of Frozen Four hero Jacob Quillan who signed a two year entry level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He will finish out the season on an amateur tryout with the Toronto Marlies (AHL). Joining him in the professional ranks are Collin Graf who had 108 points over two seasons after transferring in from Union College. He signed a three year entry level contract with the San Jose Sharks and was immediately brought the the NHL club. Also gone is the third member of that championship line in Sam Lipkin, who gave up his final two seasons of eligibility to sign with the Arizona Coyotes, the team that drafted him in the 7th round of the 2021 NHL Draft. Anytime you lose a combined 130 points, it is going to sting. That is the price of success. Quinnipiac benefited from the Covid shutdown which helped them win the programs first ever national title. It enabled them to bring back a bunch of their own players for extra seasons along with filling some holes via the transfer portal. Now Quinnipiac will have a mini reset as they will likely bring in the biggest first year class since the 2019-2020 season. 

Other players not returning are captain Jayden Lee, CJ McGee and Zach Tupker who used a 5th Covid season this past year. Lee was a key member of the past three teams that won 93 games and went deep into the NCAA tournament in each of those years. McGee played a ton over the past two seasons in multiple different roles and will be missed. Others not returning are senior Iivari Rasanen who could have used a 5th year due to Covid and goaltender Vinny Duplessis. I thought that Rasanen was someone that might return to give the backend more experience. Duplessis not returning is not shocking. When the team got a commitment from a talented prospect in Dylan Silverstein, it was clear they were probably moving in a different direction for 2024-2025. Duplessis gave them stability in goal for one more run at championship glory but it was not meant to be. 

The scoreboard in Tampa after winning the 2023 Title

The Sherbrooke boys are both not returning as well. One day after the overtime loss to Boston College in the regional final, Christophe Fillion entered the transfer portal and two days later committed to play at Miami (OH) under new head coach Anthony Noreen. A day after Fillion entered the portal, Cristophe Tellier also put his name in the portal as well. After back to back 20 plus point seasons, he was expected to be a key member next season but now has decided to do that elsewhere. Fillion and Tellier were always a package deal especially when they committed together years ago. It is not surprising that Tellier has moved on once Fillion left first. It is not known what went into the departures of both, but it could be that the coaching staff felt it was time to bring in the committed recruits and not push them back any longer. 

Other players that have entered the transfer portal are sophomore defensemen Jake Martin (25 games), freshman defensemen Nicky Wallace (2 games) and sophomore forward Tim Heinke (6 Games). Heinke has already announced he will transfer to Holy Cross to play under Bill Riga.

Quinnipiac got some good news when they announced that both defensemen Cooper Moore (22 points, plus 26) and Travis Treloar (24 points, plus 8) were both returning for a 5th season. The Bobcats have also added transfer Jack Ricketts (35 points in 39 games) from Holy Cross. He will have one season of eligibility remaining and is strong on the faceoff dot. 

Quinnipiac celebrating after winning the 2023 National Title

The Bobcats will have some key players returning in Mason Marcellus (36 points), Andon Cerbone (26 points), Davis Pennington (24 points), Charles-Alexis Legault (24 points). Quinnipiac will need the likes of Victor Czerneckianair (14 points), Anthony Cipollone (13 points, Alex Power (9 points) and Matthew McGroarty (6 points) to take a greater leap next season if they want to remain in the upper echelon of teams not only the ECAC but nationally.

What will make or break next season for the team will be the incoming recruiting class which has a lot of talent. The gem of the class is Christopher Pelosi, a big strong center who is averaging a point per game for Sioux Falls in the USHL. A third round draft pick of the Boston Bruins in 2023, Pelosi is expected to see immediate minutes for Quinnipiac in likely a top six role along with the power play. He has the ability to challenge for the league rookie of the year with his talent. Aaron Schwartz is another standout in this class from the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. Schwartz put up 81 points in 51 games and is a finalist for the league MVP. He is a creative play maker who also has the ability to score goals as well as he finished second in the league for goals at 34. Two other players who should play a factor in next years team are Tyler Borgula (48 points for Sioux Falls, USHL) and Ryan Smith (23 goals, 37 points for Tri-City, USHL). Noah Eyre (Sioux Falls, USHL), Andrej Kovacevic (Cowichan Valley, BCHL) and Michael Salandra (West Kelowna, BCHL) round out the committed forwards. It remains to be seen if maybe someone like Kovacevic is held back in juniors for another season if the coaching staff gets another forward from the transfer portal. Salandra has aged out in juniors so he will head to Hamden in the fall.

The back end is where the biggest concern lies. Moore, Pennington and Legault are a good start but after that they lack any experience besides Chase Ramsay who played in two games this past season. Nathan Tobey (Madison Capitols, USHL) and Braden Blace (Alberni Valley, BCHL) are coming in next season. Two other players I have listed but I am not sure they are even committed anymore in Aaron Brown (Blackfalds Bulldogs, BCHL) and Jonah Copre (Rockets Hockey Club, NCDC) This is based on Chris Heisenberg list but elite prospects does not have them listed for Quinnipiac next season. Based on how the defense only returns three players with major experience, this is where Quinnipiac should get experience via the transfer portal. They could also bring in Lucas Sorace (Penticton, BCHL) who I have listed for 2025-2026 and that's only because he missed a good portion of  the early BCHL season this year. Filling some defensive spots via the portal would be good business especially if you are going to have a young offense that may take some time to get going. 

In goal Quinnipiac will have Matej Marinov returning along with incoming freshman Dylan Silverstein (Sioux City, USHL). A talented prospect who at one time last season was enrolled at Boston College before withdrawing early in the 2022-2023 season, Silverstein has battled some injuries with some inconsistent play but has a ton of talent as he was thought highly of to play two seasons with the United States National Team Development Program. It is likely that knowing Rand's history with goaltenders, he will alternate between the two early in the season to see which one gets into a better rhythm. Fan favorite Noah Altman will be back as the third goaltender. 

Students, alumni and fans of the program need to preach patience with this new team. While the last three seasons were exciting in its own right, this next version of Quinnipiac could be just as exciting but how quickly they get there is another story. Have faith in Rand and his coaching staff to put a good team on the ice year in and year out especially if there are early season struggles due to the youthful nature of this upcoming team. 

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  1. Do you know if there are any big programs on the OOC schedule next year or do you think we’ll see more local teams as they find their legs next season.

    1. Schedule unknown at this point. I'm sure it will piece together after the Frozen Four.

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