Athlete of the Week: Matthew Peca

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By Peter Rossi, QBSN Staff Writer

Don’t blink twice, because men’s ice hockey forward Matthew Peca is playing the best hockey of his Quinnipiac career and you may miss it if you look away. This past weekend, at the NCAA East Regional Championship in Providence R.I., Peca put the Bobcats on his shoulders and made a personal statement to the college hockey world that Quinnipiac, and himself, would be a force to be reckoned with.

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On Saturday night, with the Bobcats trailing by a score of 3-1, it seemed as if Quinnipiac’s Cinderella season would come to an abrupt end against the Canisius Golden Griffins. But Peca had other plans, as he scored one of the prettiest goals of the year to make the game 3-2 with just less than 12 minutes left to play in the third. Peca took the puck out of the corner and fired a pass to line mate Connor Jones. Jones then flung the puck back to Peca who walked in untouched and roofed it over the right shoulder of Griffins’ goalie Tony Capobianco. Peca’s 12th of the season opened the floodgates for the Bobcats as they would go on to score two other goals after to put away the win.

Not to be outdone, Sunday’s performance from Peca was even more mesmerizing and historic. With the Bobcats facing ECAC foe Union Dutchmen, Peca put the game away in the record books for the Bobcats early.  In the first period alone, Peca tallied a natural hat trick in just three minutes and 12 seconds, the fastest in NCAA tournament history. Just about midway in the period, Kellen Jones attempted a shot on goal that was blocked by the Union defense but slid right to Peca who fired it home from his knees past a diving Troy Grosenick to give the Bobcats the 1-0 lead.

Just about a minute later, Peca put his name on the score sheet again when he intercepted a neutral zone pass from a Union breakout, skated into the offensive end, and fired a wrist shot past the glove of Grosenick. To complete history, three minutes later on the power play, Peca took the puck out of the corner and deked past Union defender, and fired it on the backhand to give Quinnipiac the 3-0 lead. The Bobcats faithful in attendance threw hats on the ice to show support of the effort. Peca was not done, as he also assisted on Kellen Jones’s goal in the second period for his fourth point of the night.

At the end of the tournament, Peca was named the East Regional’s Most Valuable Player after totaling four goals and an assist in two games.