Despite losing some key components from last season’s ECAC Hockey regular-season champion and NCAA tournament runner-up, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold knew he would still have a decent team this year.
But even he is surprised by the Bobcats’ hot start.
The ECACH-leading and fifth-ranked Bobcats come to the Capital Region this weekend when they play Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute tonight at 7 at Houston Field House, and then face second-place Union at 7 p.m. Saturday at Messa Rink.
The Bobcats (6-1-1 ECACH, 13-2-2 overall) lost the league’s top goalie, Eric Hartzell, center and leading scorer Jeremy Langlois and defensemen Loren Barron, Zack Currie, Mike Dalhuisen and Zach Davies to graduation.
“I thought we would be good this year,” Pecknold said. “Did I think we’d be 13-2-2? No, probably not. I think we have overachieved. I knew we had some good players. I knew we had a really good freshman class that we liked.”
That freshman class is headed by left winger Sam Anas. Playing on a line with center Colin Jones and right winger Kellen Jones, Anas leads the team in scoring with 12 goals and 12 assists. He also tops the Bobcats in power-play goals (five) and game-winners (three).
Anas was named ECACH rookie of the month for November. He had six goals and 10 assists in the month.
“Sam is a scorer,” Pecknold said. “He’s a great offensive player. He’s the perfect complement to Connor and Kellen. I think Connor and Kellen have been two of the best players in the country, so far, this year. They just generate so much offense and play great defensively. They do the little things well.
“Sam’s been a nice complement. I know he’s our leading scorer, but he’s kind of been the third wheel on that line, and he’s really good at it. He knows his role, and he knows what he needs to do. Connor and Kellen go and hunt the puck, and Sam waits. He’s the one who ends up making the plays and finishing them.”
If anyone had doubts that the Bobcats would struggle in goal after Hartzell, Michael Garteig has put them to rest. The sophomore is 13-2-2 with a 1.64 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and three shutouts.
Garteig, who went 41-4 with a 1.93 GAA, a .927 save percentage and five shutouts for the British Columbia Junior Hockey League’s Penticton Vees in 2011-12, won his second straight ECACH player of the month award after going 7-1-2 with a 1.59 GAA, a .917 save percentage and three shutouts in November. He became the first goalie in Quinnipiac history to record three shutouts in the same month.
“His work ethic last year at practice was phenomenal, and so was Hartzell’s,” Pecknold said. “The two of them would go back and forth and compete against each other. It was great. ‘Gartsie’ came in with a couple of deficiencies in his game, and he worked his tail off for the full year waiting to play and made himself a better goalie.”
St. Lawrence senior forward Greg Carey was named ECACH player of the month for November.
Carey led the nation in scoring during the month with 21 points in 10 games. He scored goals in nine games and had six multi-point games, two of them four point nights.
Quinnipiac senior forward Brooks Robinson was suspended for one game by the ECACH on Monday for a hitting-from-behind penalty late in Saturday’s 6-1 win over Massachusetts.
Robinson was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct. But the league reviewed the tape of the incident, and ruled the hit bad enough that it warranted a suspension.
Robinson will miss tonight’s game against RPI.
FINALLY, A WIN
After opening the season with eight straight losses, Dartmouth picked up its first win of the season last Saturday, beating travel partner Harvard, 2-1, at Thompson Arena in Hanover, N.H.
The Crimson took a 1-0 lead on Jimmy Vesey’s goal at 10:13 of the second period. The Big Green tied it 3:31 later on a Grant Opperman goal.
Eric Neiley scored the game-winner with 2:41 left in regulation.
“We played very well against a very good team tonight,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “The guys came out and played a great game in front of a great home crowd, and we were able to come away with the win. We had played well enough to win other nights, so it was good to finally see it come together.”
With Dartmouth’s win, Alabama-Huntsville is the only winless team left in men’s college hockey. The Chargers are 0-14.
HOLY CROSS STUNNER
Holy Cross of Atlantic Hockey sent shock waves across college hockey when it went to Boston College and upset the seventh-ranked Eagles, 5-4, last Saturday.
Center Mike Barrett had two goals and an assist, and right winger Matt Vidal added a goal and two assists as the Crusaders built a 5-1 lead after two periods.
BC scored three times in the third on goals by Ryan Fitzgerald, Michael Sit and Kevin Hayes. The last two goals came 27 seconds apart late in the third. But the Crusaders held on.
Holy Cross goalie Matt Ginn made 34 saves, including 14 in the third when BC outshot the Crusaders, 17-3.
Holy Cross isn’t a stranger to huge upsets. In the 2006 NCAA tournament, the 15th-seeded Crusaders knocked off second-seeded Minnesota, 4-3, in the West Regional semifinals.
Here’s a look at how college hockey players from the Capital Region did over the past week.
Union junior goalie Colin Stevens (Niskayuna) stopped 29 shots in the Dutchmen’s 4-3 win last Saturday over Penn State. He had eight saves in Sunday’s game before being pulled with Union trailing, 4-1, in the second period. The Dutchmen came back to win, 5-4.
Union freshman defenseman Jeff Taylor (Clifton Park) scored a goal in Saturday’s game, and had an assist Sunday.
Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Courtney Burke (Albany) scored a goal in the Badgers’ 2-2 tie against Minnesota Duluth last Friday.