Engineered for Success: Quinnipiac shuts out RPI 1-0 in Pecknold’s 1000th game


Photo: Kaylyn Terry

Clever Streich

In 1,000 games behind the bench for the Quinnipiac Bobcats, head coach Rand Pecknold has seen countless players come through his program. He knows what it takes to motivate and coach them to play great hockey. 

And one night after Pecknold was unsatisfied with his team’s performance in Friday’s 2-1 victory over Union, the No. 2/2 Bobcats responded with a full 60-minute effort by shutting out the RPI Engineers 1-0, setting a new NCAA record in the process.

“In terms of our effort tonight, I don’t think we were perfect, but we were good enough to win,” Pecknold said. “We had a lot of zone time, especially in the third when we ground it down. We keep finding ways to win.” 

Before the game began, a ceremony was held to acknowledge Pecknold as the 19th coach in NCAA history to reach the 1000 game milestone, with the coach’s family joining him at center ice to watch a commemorative video presentation.

“It’s an interesting milestone to hit because you’re excited about it, but it also makes you feel a little bit old,” Pecknold said. “I’m excited I could get to that point. I just want to thank my wife Nikki and my kids for supporting me through it. All the staff and the players I’ve had in the 28 years, I’ve been really fortunate.”

Quinnipiac jumped ahead quickly in the first period, as junior forward Ethan Leyh scored by sending a shot from the boards that slipped past RPI goaltender Linden Marshall, giving the Bobcats a 1-0 lead. 

Leyh has been a hot stick for the Bobcats recently, with game-winning goals on back-to-back nights, and four points in his last six games played.

“I thought Ethan (Leyh) was really good tonight,” Pecknold said. “He competed, he battled, and when he does that, he’s extremely effective for us.” 

Leyh’s tally would stand as the lone goal of the contest, as a goaltender’s duel would emerge between Marshall and Bobcats netminder Yaniv Perets, who each made spectacular stops to keep the game at a deadlock for the next two periods. 

At the final horn, Perets stood tall with his 10th shutout of the season, helping the Bobcats set a new NCAA single-season team shutout record, with Perets and graduate goalie Dylan St. Cyr combining for 13 shutouts on the year.

“Blocking shots, backchecking, picking up sticks, so for me, (the record) is more of a team accomplishment,” Perets said. “The guys working so hard in front of me, making my life so much easier.”

With the victory, the Bobcats improve their overall record to 23-2-3 on the season and 12-1-1 in-conference, increasing their winning streak to five games. 

Despite Quinnipiac continuing its winning ways, the shutout victory over RPI meant more than usual.

Pecknold’s 1000th game provided a chance for the Bobcats to reflect on the impact their coach has made, and how he has built his squad to become successful players.  

“I came in at 17, just a kid, didn’t really know how to play defense, didn’t really know how to do that type of stuff. (Pecknold) has really taught me a lot of those details I hadn’t really learned growing up,” Leyh said. “An amazing accomplishment, coaching 1000 games, that’s crazy in itself, and just goes to show you how few people have done it.”

The Bobcats will hit the ice for Pecknold’s 1001st game behind the bench on Tuesday, Feb. 8, as they welcome the Brown Bears to the People’s United Center with puck drop set for 7 p.m.