Quinnipiac had a Cinderella season in 2012-13, advancing to the Frozen Four championship game for the first time in school history.
This season, the Bobcats (13-2-2) have picked up where they left off, and heading into this weekend are atop the ECAC standings at 6-1-1.
“It’s been a good first half of the year,’’ acknowledged coach Rand Pecknold.
Last season gave the team the building blocks to understand what it takes to get as far as the final game.
“Throughout the season, we certainly learned to deal with adversity in a lot of different forms,’’ said Pecknold. “One of the reasons we had such a great year is because we handled our adversity well and attacked it in a positive fashion. A big learning curve for a lot of them was how to handle the media, when to deal with it and how not to let it affect their play.’’
Not only was there excitement among those involved directly with the program, but the campus community rallied around the team.
“Our run just galvanized our community and our alumni base,’’ said Pecknold. “It was probably something the school has never experienced before. It was an awesome experience, not just for our hockey team, but I think for our university in general. We’ve only been Division 1, that was our 15th year, we’re still a relatively young Division 1 program in any sport, let alone hockey. It certainly was magical for the school.’’
One of the standout players this season has been Sam Anas, a freshman left wing from Potomac, Md., who was named ECAC rookie of the month for November after leading rookies in goals (6), assists (10), and points. In 17 games, Anas has 12 goals and 12 assists, his 24 points tied for third in the nation.
“I knew he’d be an impactful freshman for us but he’s been even better than we hoped, even better than advertised,’’ said Pecknold.
Anas played two seasons for Youngstown in the USHL prior to Quinnipiac and was a force with 97 points, including 54 goals, in 115 games. If there is a knock on him, it’s his size (5 feet 8 inches, 150 pounds).
“He’s definitely gotten stronger,’’ said Pecknold. “I think it’s still something he needs to work on. We’ll build him up a little bit so he’ll be even better as a sophomore.’’
Anas is playing left wing on a line with twins Connor Jones at center and Kellen Jones at right wing.
“Ever since the first game we played together [against Holy Cross], we just clicked,’’ said Anas, 20. “The chemistry has been unbelievable and we just seem to know where each other [will be]. Obviously, they’ve played together their whole lives, but it seems like I’ve played with them for a lot longer than two months. It’s just a lot of fun.’’
Anas has always been a point producer. When he captained Landon (Md.) Prep to the Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League title, Anas averaged two goals and four points per game, and had hat tricks in four straight games.
“That’s really what I love most about hockey, putting up points and scoring goals,’’ Anas said with a laugh. “It’s really been great for me. I wouldn’t be able to do it without [the Jones twins]. They’ve been great. We’ve been a great line and it’s been a lot of fun playing with them.’’
Quinnipiac was the first school to offer Anas a scholarship, and he believed it would be the best opportunity for him.
“The coaches really seemed to have a grasp of the player that I was,’’ he said. “It just seemed like the perfect fit, and so far it really has been.’’
Bentley regains form
After a six-game losing streak, Bentley (5-7-1) has righted the ship with just one loss in its last six (4-1-1). Forward Brent Gensler is two points away from setting the Division 1 school record. He needs one to tie Dain Prewitt’s mark of 126. Goaltender Branden Komm, who is expected to make his 90th career start this weekend in a two-game series with Robert Morris, is two victories away from tying the school record of 35 . . . UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh announced his inaugural recruiting class for next season as the team moves into Hockey East. Of the seven players who signed letters of intent, four are from Massachusetts — Corey Ronan from Franklin, Will Golonka from Carlisle, Miles Gendron from Shrewsbury, and Derrick Pratt from Mount Hermon. The other three are Jeff Wight from Coquitlam, British Columbia, Jesse Schwartz from Toronto, and Karl El-Mir from Greenfield Park, Quebec . . . One of the standout players in Holy Cross’s 5-4 upset victory over Boston College last Friday was sophomore forward Castan Sommer from Shrewsbury, who had a goal and an assist for his first multi-point game in more than a year. Sommer’s father, Roy, is currently the longest-tenured AHL coach, with the Worcester Sharks, in his 15th year behind the bench . . . It stands to be a challenging weekend for Harvard, as the Crimson head out on the road to face Brown on Friday and No. 8 Yale on Saturday. The Crimson have lost six of their last eight outings. Sophomores Kyle Criscuolo and Jimmy Vesey lead the team in scoring with 10 points and 9 points, respectively, in 11 games . . . Tickets for the Hockey East Championship go on sale on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the TD Garden box office. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. The semifinals will take place March 21 at 5 and 8 p.m. The title game will be March 22 at 7 p.m.Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.