2020-21 Quinnipiac Men’s Ice Hockey Season Preview: Forwards


Photo: Liz Flynn

Ryan Flaherty

Hockey in Hamden is Back! Believe it or not, the puck drops on the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey season on Monday.

After 285 days since their last game, the Bobcats will be back in action next week and Q30’s beat team will be breaking down everything you need to know leading up to gameday. Over the next few days we will be previewing the entire 2020-21 roster, starting with the group up front: the forwards.

While Rand Pecknold’s squad will return 12 of their 15 forwards, they’ll have some big holes to fill. Senior captains Nick Jermain (C) and Alex Whelan (A) accounted for 45 points and were a huge piece of the leadership presence both on and off the ice.

The Bobcats also said goodbye to junior William Fällström, who decided to forego the rest of his NCAA eligibility and sign a professional contract in his home country of Sweden. Fällström tallied a career 38 points for Quinnipiac, including 16 assists last season. Fällström will be missed most on the penalty kill and in the face-off circle. His 61.3 face-off percentage ranked third-best in the entire nation on a team that had the highest team face-off percentage in all of Division I hockey.

So, who will Quinnipiac turn to this year? Here are some of the important names to know as we begin the 2020-2021 season.

Odeen Tufto (C):

The senior captain enters his final year in Hamden as the team’s leading scorer and top threat on offense. Tufto was the first player since Reid Cashman in 2007 to record back-to-back 40-point seasons and the first player in program history to do so in his first two seasons.

Tufto followed that up with his third 30-point season in 2019, tallying 38 points in a shortened season. He was named to the ECAC Hockey Second Team in each of the past two seasons and will be a key to Quinnipiac’s success in the faceoff circle.

Wyatt Bongiovanni:

A junior from Michigan, Bongiovanni was named an assistant captain for the 2020-2021 season. Bongiovanni has tallied back-to-back 20-point seasons tallying 48 career points.

He’s played in all 72 games over the past two seasons and last year the Bobcats were 12-2-0 when he scored a goal and 16-3-0 when he tallied a point. Bongiovanni will pair nicely with his fellow captain on a top line with high expectations.

Ty Smilanic:

Speaking of high expectations, Smilanic comes into the season as the most highly-touted prospect in Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey history. Earlier this year, he became the highest drafted player in program history when the Florida Panthers drafted him in the third round, 74th overall.

Prior to Quinnipiac, Smilanic played for the U18 Unites States National Development Team, tallying seven goals and 15 assists in 34 games.

Ethan de Jong:

The junior from British Columbia enters his third year for the Bobcats as a standout member of the offense. De Jong provides key depth for a team that preaches the importance of a balanced scoring attack.

A season ago, he recorded a career-high 79 shots on goal while posting a +6 plus/minus rating.

Skyler Brind’Amour:

A sixth-round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers in the 2017 NHL Draft, Brind’Amour enters his Sophomore year coming off a season in which he was named the team’s Rookie of the Year after leading all Bobcat rookies with 13 points.

The son of Carolina Hurricanes head coach, Rod Brind’Amour, Skyler led all ECAC Hockey first-year centers with a .575 faceoff win percentage and was sixth overall in ECAC Hockey.

Ethan Leyh:

Leyh had a promising first year in Hamden scoring seven goals, which were good for fourth among all ECAC Hockey rookies. He was one of only two first-years to play in all 34 games and will be expected to make a jump in his second year in order to complement this high-powered offense.

Corey Clifton:

If this name doesn’t sound familiar…it should. Corey is the younger brother of Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey alums Tim and Connor Clifton. Tim was most recently in the AHL with the San Jose Barracuda, while Connor is in the NHL with the Boston Bruins and recently became the first QU alum to score a goal in a Stanley Cup Finals game.

Meanwhile, Corey comes to Hamden from the Austin Bruins of the NAHL and the Trail Smoke Eaters of the BCHL. In a combined 32 games for both teams, he tallied four goals and six assists.