By Brian Farrell, QBSN Staff Writer
Forty inches of snow and 41 votes are two numbers that are putting Hamden and Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey at the top of the national media. USCHO.com released its weekly poll Monday ranking the Bobcats No.1 with 41 first-place votes.
“Just looking back, it is more than impressive that in only our 15th year in Division I that we are the No. 1 team in the country,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I think it is something that our fans, our alums and all the guys that played here in the past can enjoy.”
After spending nearly a month at No. 2, the Bobcats finally jumped Minnesota for the No. 1 rank.
“For us as players and coaches we are going to enjoy it for about 15 minutes and then we need to get ready for St. Lawrence on Friday night,” Pecknold added.
Despite incredible success this season, Pecknold said his coaching staff has not talked to the players about the national rankings.
“I really only mentioned it once all year and I just said don’t look at the press clippings and we’ll deal with it after the year. Do they listen to me? I don’t know,” Pecknold said smiling. “I am sure some of them are online all the time.”
While the coaches and players attempt to down play the importance of the No.1 rank, Quinnipiac President John Lahey was on hand to speak to the team after the announcement.
“I just told them that this is a piece of Quinnipiac history,” President Lahey said. “Even if we are lucky enough to experience it again, this men’s ice hockey team will go down in [school] history as the first one to have a national No.1 ranking.”
Quinnipiac has continued to grow exponentially over the last twenty years, but Lahey admits that athletic success like this was not on his original agenda.
“I came to Quinnipiac with some big dreams and plans for the university, including moving us to Division I athletics and I can tell you I did not have in those plans written down somewhere that we would be the No. 1 ranked team in the country in any sport,” he said. ”This is just a huge accomplishment.”
On a day like this, there are a number of pieces that can get lost in the excitement. Most notably is that the Bobcats are just four points away from the school’s first Cleary Cup and a No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs.
Quinnipiac can do no worse than second place thanks to another conference sweep last weekend and a 14-0-2 conference record.
“The guys are hungry. They want to win,” Pecknold said. “There is no complacency in that locker room and we just need to keep the hammer down and keep rolling with our regular season games and have that carry over to the playoffs.”
The Bobcats return to Hamden for a weekend series against St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. for both nights.