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All eyes on Connecticut college hockey
By Brian Farrell, QBSN Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH – For the next two days, the Greater New Haven area is the hub of college hockey. A statement that was laughable six months ago is now a reality. Just a few weeks ago it didn’t even look like Yale would make the national tournament. Now, the two south-central Connecticut schools are ready to face off in the biggest college hockey game of the year.
“I think they’re playing on a different level of hockey right now,” Quinnipiac captain Zack Currie said about Yale’s stellar postseason play. “They’ve won some impressive games including last night, but I think our approach doesn’t change. We’ve played the same way all year. We play our hockey.”
Despite the fact that the two teams are just miles apart, Quinnipiac forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas isn’t putting much stock in the rivalry.
“I think the fact that it’s a rivalry game is irrelevant,” Samuels-Thomas said. “Right now both teams are competing for a national championship, and that’s kind of what comes first. Obviously, they are our rivals, but I don’t think anyone’s thinking about that.”
Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold echoed Samuels-Thomas’ mindset.
“This is a big one,” Pecknold said. “I think we’ll definitely do what we’ve done all year. We’ll spend a little time on what we need to do to be effective against Yale. But ultimately we need to do what we do well. We’re really good at our game, and we need to stay the course.”
For the fans, the excitement is palpable. Quinnipiac’s Mount Carmel and York Hill campuses went into full celebration mode last year following the 4-1 over St. Cloud State. As final minutes ticked off the game clock at the Consol Energy Center, the students on hand for the game boisterously exclaimed, “We want Yale!”
The excitement surrounding the Bobcats and more notably, the national championship, is unlike anything this school has ever experienced. In a year that saw less than impressive attendance numbers at the onset, it is hard to imagine now how difficult tickets will be next season.
But this is the kind of problem that Quinnipiac has been craving since opening the TD Bank Sports Center in 2007. Throughout this season’s magical run, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold, Athletic Director Jack McDonald and university President John Lahey have made it clear that tomorrow’s game is the reason why Quinnipiac built the multimillion-dollar facility.
Tomorrow is among the biggest days that Quinnipiac University has ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Pecknold said. “We could play the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night, and we’re going to play the same way. We’ve got to tweak things a little bit and make some small adaptations to shut down Yale in certain situations. But ultimately we have to play our game. We’re good at it, and we don’t need to change anything.”
Stay tuned to theqbsn.com for updated information throughout the day including the announcement of the 2013 Hobey Baker Award winner.