Bruins Sign Former Quinnipiac Captain Connor Clifton

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Bruins Sign Former Quinnipiac Captain Connor Clifton

Photo: Emma Robertson

Photo: Emma Robertson

Photo: Emma Robertson

Photo: Emma Robertson

Juliana Nikac and Dan Bahl

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Former Quinnipiac men’s hockey defenseman and co-captain Connor Clifton signed a professional contract with the Providence Bruins, the AHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins, this past Wednesday.

“It was very exciting going through the process of signing my first professional contract,” Clifton said. “It’s a special feeling watching the dream I’ve had since I was a young child start to take shape.”

The 22-year old played all four years with the Bobcats, recording 56 points in 156 career games. He put up a career-high 28 points in 43 games during the 2015-16 season, a year in which the Bobcats made it to the finals of the Frozen Four.

Clifton was known for his physical game during his time in Hamden, and became a key part of the Bobcats’ penalty kill. His offensive game continued to develop as an upperclassman, and he often teamed up with freshman defenseman Brogan Rafferty to anchor the first powerplay unit during his senior season. He credits Quinnipiac, and the coaching staff, with getting him to this new level in his career.

“I wouldn’t be in this spot today if it wasn’t for the Quinnipiac coaching staff and my teammates,” Clifton said. “They both have given me every resource and opportunity I needed to succeed and prepare me for the next level.”

Clifton’s brother, Tim, who also played with the Bobcats, signed a contract with the San Jose Sharks organization shortly after the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. Tim went on to play eight games with the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks’ AHL affiliate. Connor’s youngest brother, Corey, will join the Bobcats as a freshman for the 2018-19 campaign.

Although he was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Arizona Coyotes, Clifton never signed a contract and became a free agent on August 15th. Given the unique situation of not signing with his draft team, Clifton admitted that finding an organization that genuinely wants him was paramount in his decision.

“I wanted to be in an organization where I felt that I belonged,” Clifton said, “The Bruins organization was a great fit and I couldn’t be more excited.”

As pointed out by Justin Cait of the Quinnipiac Chronicle, Clifton joins a defensive group in the Bruins organization that is thin on right-handed shots. Alex Grant signed with the Minnesota Wild, Chris Casto signed with the Vegas Golden Knights, and Colin Miller was taken by Vegas in the 2017 Expansion Draft. Providence enters this season fresh off of a deep playoff run.

After sneaking into the playoffs as the last seed in the Atlantic Division, the Providence Bruins advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference Final before ultimately bowing out against the Syracuse Crunch in five games. The team returns a number of its top players, including top scorer Jordan Szwarz, and will look to contend for a second season in a row.

Meanwhile, the Bobcats return with one of the strongest defense cores in the nation, despite the loss of Clifton. The freshman standout Rafferty returns, along with senior Kevin McKernan, junior captain Chase Priskie, and sophomore Karlis Cukste. The Bobcats also gain Brandon Fortunato, a transfer from Boston University who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Fortunato will likely fill Clifton’s shoes on the powerplay, while Cukste is likely to see more time as a prominent penalty killer.

Clifton is slated to attend Boston’s preseason training camps in September.