From top to bottom, Quinnipiac’s offense is rolling


Andrew Badillo

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Kyle Levasseur

LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK – Many good college hockey teams have a top goal scorer. A weapon that can score at any given moment, in any situation. One of the reasons Quinnipiac has been more than just good this year is because it has an arsenal of weapons. Four potent lines littered with quickness, toughness, and skill that are capable of taking on any defense in the country.

Quinnipiac owns the ECAC’s best goals per game average (3.87), and the fourth most goals in the country (147).

“We think the strength of our team is our depth,” associate head coach Bill Riga said. “Rolling four lines is huge for us. It keeps us fresh.”

Headlining the offense are four of the ECAC’s top ten point scorers. Sam Anas (48), Travis St. Denis (43), Tim Clifton (38), and Landon Smith (33). The four have 11 more points than ECAC foe Princeton had all season, pretty special.

Pecknold understands however, that to excel in the playoffs it takes a group effort.

“Every year is a different year, and every year you get different challenges,” Pecknold said. “It always seems for us fortunately, that every season we have kids that step up. They go from that fourth line kid to that top two line kid.”

Pecknold may soon have more elite NCAA players, as he’s struck gold with his current freshman class. The underclassmen have given Quinnipiac a chance to score at any moment and keep the defense on their toes.

“There’s no weakness in our top four lines,” Riga said. “Obviously our top line is pretty special at times with the skill plays, but the other lines all contribute, and play hard. You really don’t see that much drop off between the lines on our team.”

The freshman class features Chase Priskie, Luke Shiplo, Scott Davidson, Thomas Aldworth,and Craig Martin. As of late, the rookies have been producing.

Priskie, selected to the ECAC All-Rookie team, is tied for third on the team in assists.The Florida native also had an impressive quarterfinals series against Cornell, tallying four points including a two-goal game in Game 2.

While Shiplo has only played in 13 games this year, his five goals have come in crucial situations. With a goal against Brown to win the Cleary Cup, and a goal against arch rival Yale, Shiplo has performed well in the spotlight.

Davidson is also putting up a solid freshman campaign with six goals and six assists. While he may not show up on the score sheet as much as the leading goal scorers, Davidson plays a hard, physical game that wears down the opposing defense.

It’s been a rollercoaster year for freshman Thomas Aldworth who has been in and out of the lineup this season. The forward has shown flashes of greatness, winning ECAC Rookie and Player of the Week. But a scoring drought in the middle of the season stalled his ice time. Aldworth had been heating up in the playoffs, with four points in his last six games.

Not to be forgotten, forward Craig Martin scored his first career goal Friday night against Dartmouth. Martin has seen limited time this season, but it hasn’t been a knock on his talent.

“They (the freshman class) have been great all year,” Pecknold said. “We didn’t need any guys to come in and be superstar forwards, but they’ve all helped. Craig’s a great example.”

It’s the team first attitude that Quinnipiac has lived by all season. Assistant Captain Sam Anas understands that’s what it takes to succeed.

“I think that’s big down the stretch, secondary scoring,” Anas said. “A lot of times you see when a team goes on a run in the playoffs, it’s not always the leading scorer that is the leading scorer in the playoffs. A lot of times it’s an unsung hero that comes up and starts playing well.”

And not to be overlooked is the defense. As a whole, Quinnipiac has five different defenseman responsible for eight game winning goals, the second most in NCAA hockey. Two of the best offensive-minded defenseman in the conference, include Devon Toews and Connor Clifton.

The “commander” of the power play, Toews is key to capitalizing on the man-advantage. Earning ECAC Second-Team honors, and accumulating seven goals and 20 assists this season is no small feat. The junior makes the game look easy as he’s one of the best skaters on the team and is a precision passer.

And finally, having a breakout season is Arizona Coyotes prospect, Connor Clifton. Clifton has definitely stepped up this season, as he is second in all defenseman in the country in game winning goals (3).

“Connor’s really had a great year,” Pecknold said. “We’re two or three in the country in terms of offensive production from our d-core and it’s a big reason why we’re winning.”

No. 1 Quinnipiac takes on No. 3 Harvard in the ECAC Championship at 7:36 p.m. on Saturday, March 19. The Bobcats enter the game on a mission to win their first Whitelaw Cup in program history. With the game expected to be an offensive showdown, Rand Pecknold will need every weapon from his arsenal, more than ever.