Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey mailbag: Rand Pecknold, The NCAA National Championship and which players are staying and who’s leaving

Matt Mugno

   The Bobcats are the 2023 National Champions. A lot of questions followed shortly after the victory. “Who’s staying?” “Who’s going?” “What was the atmosphere like in Tampa?” It’s time for another mailbag to answer the reader’s questions. 

Nick Boyd – How many guys on the champ squad do you think are heading to the NHL?

This is a tough one. Yaniv Perets, Skyler Brind’Armour, “York Hill Boys Line,” and it’d be neat to see Zack Metsa go. 

 If Jacob Quillan and Collin Graf are drafted, a lot of factors affect going to the show, but I’d be shocked if they remain in Hamden, Connecticut if they are drafted. 

You may be shaking your head reading that. Michigan had many players go right into the show like Kent Johnson, Matty Beniers, and Owen Power. Not to say by profile Quillan is better than Adam Fantilli but it makes you think that this is the next frontier for the Bobcats. 

Brind’Armour denied signing with Edmonton, but he has a legitimate chance at pro hockey because of his game. He has a two-hundred-foot game, size, speed, and hands. The numbers arrived this season and his specimen is desirable. 

Perets is already in the wings right now, having signed with the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Rod’Brind Armour saw him play on Saturday and didn’t hesitate.  

To answer your question, I think six guys have a shot of tying the laces up for the NHL. I think three are no doubt going to at least for a pre-season game. 

Jonny Lazarus – How much fun did Chives have in celebration?

FUN! Jonny, I have never seen a hockey team I associated with the win. The school finally did things right, the student body celebrated on a Monday with the pep rally. 

Ethan Logue – A lot of amazing moments from the weekend, give me your favorite other than the Natty.

Seeing the Hobey Baker Award presented live. I’m a history nerd as well as meeting Mike Richter. On the day off in between the Frozen Four and the championship, I noticed Richter get out of the car in front of the ice. I gauged how approachable he was and low and behold, one of the nicest guys.

Talking to the family of players and having my family come down to enjoy the festivities as well. Metsa’s cousins from Colorado and Christophe Tellier’s parents-initiated conversations with me. My brother flew from Tennessee. It made it more exciting to be a part of it. 

Jake Zaretsky- Let’s talk about MM on the MSG 150 instead.

That’s what I’d define as 15 seconds of fame. Just amazing for Quinnipiac student media. Next question. Thank you, MSG Network!

Rob Lyon – What’s your initial reaction to the game-winning goal?

Well, the radio call says a lot about it. If I were to describe the reaction, elation, or shock. As soon as Quillan cut back I lost my mind. It’s surreal. I’m at a loss for words to describe it. 

Chris “Bobber” Hess – How does it feel to be a natty champ?

I didn’t win anything, the team did.  As for my part in covering the team, it’s special.  There are fine journalists, reporters, and broadcasters that have covered team after team their entire career does not win. Not only that but at this level?

I feel special that I was able to foster connections to the players from media to athletes and to cover this team and know it inside and out the season they win the most prestigious trophy in college hockey. Not only that but as a senior. Storybook. 

Eli_e63 – Favorite moment of the game?

There are moments in every game that goes under the radar, but my personal favorite is something that I hold close. 

At the beginning of the season, I talked to two players on a Friday night, and they were chatty in a good way. Nice guys. A few weekends go by, and their friends come down from Quebec, Canada to watch them play Colgate at home on Nov. 4.  I made my first legitimate package for Q30 Sports, and it was about the friends coming to visit. It came out great. As I’m wrapping up my interview, one of them says in broken English, “If they go to championship, we are coming!” In my head, “Yeah ok. We’ll see!” Championship? Does this guy know how much that takes to win it all?

I coined the duo of Cristophe Tellier and Christophe Fillion “The Sherbrooke Boys.” When I had initially met them, they were healthy scratches and were playing limited time, no one really knew of them. 

Come to the NCAA tournament, they went off. They each scored in the regional and sent the team to Tampa. 

In Tampa at the alumni watch party; I met my parents and brother before I went into Amalie Arena. It’s mobbed, a hand grabs my shoulder, “I told you I’d be here when they win.” Goosebumps. Further, Tellier’s mother and father kept up with my work all year and loved the nickname. Every other word was “thank you.” 

Long story, yes. My favorite part was Tellier scoring to cut the lead. I mean these guys are like the B characters in a comedy. They are their caricatures in the best way. My guys score in the National Championship. That felt full circle, I started to have real faith they could come back.

 I believe in destiny. That moment was destiny. “The Sherbrooke Boys” scoring on college hockey’s biggest stage.

Christine Mugno – We’ve heard a lot about who’s going. Who’s staying?

Jayden Lee is a confirmed returnee. Joey Cipollone applied to the NCAA to return. There’s no word on Brind’Armour or CJ McGee yet. 

“The Sherbrooke Boys” and Victor Czerneckianair will see increased roles. The graduate class was heavy and the senior class was thin making the “who’s going” conversation maximized. Only four seniors could return, and it seems worse when “The York Hill Boys” have rumors swirling as well. 

The flip of the coin is Graf and Quillan remain. As for Graf, he just doesn’t have a frame that an NHL team would immediately desire. So, I’d say he’s drafted but not an immediate professional. 

As for Jacob “The Jet” Quillan, I think he’d be of NHL desire as well. For the optimists, Jayden Lee is staying, potentially Cipollone/Graf/Quillan (I mean one out of three you’d hope) and you have natural returnees in Fillion, Tellier, and Czerneckinair. 

James Kassan – Noah Atlman, Chase Clark, or another goaltender?

Chase Clark. He is tall like Altman. 6’6 frame that was desired by the Washington Capitals when they drafted him. Initially against Ohio State University in the regional, his absence was thought to be of an early transfer portal maneuver. It was really from an injury, and he was on the trip to Tampa.  

Mathieu Caron is of interest, he is an absolute star, and he is in the transfer portal. I’d be certain that the Bobcats considered Caron at some level. 

As for Altman, that’d be awesome to see a locker room favorite start. Who knows, Perets and Dylan St. Cyr duked it out in 2021 and Perets has become Quinnipiac lore. 

Seth Fromowitz – What’s next for the Bobcats? Lots of guys leaving so it’ll be a different team essentially. What’s next for Rand? 

What’s next? I’ll sputter off some thoughts I’m seeking to write my final piece at QBSN as “A Way Too Early Look at 2023-2024” style article. 

Pecknold is not going anywhere. If Pecknold was at a more established program, we’d be hailing him as the Coach K of hockey with the work he’s done. He is Quinnipiac hockey. He’s already been on USA committees and has worked with NHL coaches. He likes college players. I don’t think he’d enjoy the professional level. 

Lots of guys are leaving. Rumors and this and that. They won the championship and within days it seemed like the whole team is leaving. 

In terms of rising talent, Charles Alexis Legault looked awesome in the championship. Iivari Rasanen was solid as well. Three transfers have already committed to Quinnipiac, to read that, click here. Collin Graf and Quillan have reportedly gotten hefty looks.

What’s next is being aggressive in the transfer portal, and more so, in recruiting. The Bobcats coming into 2022-2023 were a big “uh oh.”  Who the heck was going to replace Oliver Chau, Griffen Mendel, and Ty Smilanic? I genuinely thought when the schedule was released that QU was going to have a “rebuild” type of year. I’ll argue that to Amalie Arena and back. 

It’s not about the losses. It’s about who’s coming in. They have a player from the National development program committed, as well as transfers, power in the wings, and the “Sherbrooke Boys” to step up into bigger roles. That ring is going to talk to recruits. It’s going to talk to transfers and this program finally won. They know it’s truly POSSIBLE. It happened. “Why not us?” That would be the mentality for next year, I’d say.