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Pecknold’s path to 500 career wins

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Pecknold’s path to 500 career wins

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

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On March 1, 2002 the Quinnipiac University men’s ice hockey team utilized one goal and two assists from both Brian Herbert and Ryan Olson to take down in-state rival UConn 6-2.

That game is still significant today for two reasons.

First, 2002 was the first year of the “Heroes Hat” game, founded in honor of everyone who risked or lost their lives during the Sept. 11 attack on the United States.

The tradition of the “Heroes Hat” is still alive and well today. The hat currently resides in Hamden, as Quinnipiac blanked Whitney Ave. rival Yale last year 3-0 in the 16th annual installment of the game on the back of an Andrew Shortridge 30-save shutout.

The second reason, however, has more to do with history that is on the cusp of being broken.

Back in 2002, Quinnipiac was a hockey program relatively new to the division I level. In its first season at the level in 1998-99, head coach Rand Pecknold steered Quinnipiac to an impressive 26-win campaign, good for a MAAC regular season title and a school record in wins for a season (at the time; it was broken again the next year).

It wasn’t Pecknold’s first year as Quinnipiac head coach, as he took the reigns before the 1994-95 season. However on that particular Friday night at the Northford Ice Pavillion in 2002, he became the winningest coach in program history. His 141st win surpassed the record previously held by Jim Armstrong, the man he replaced behind the Quinnipiac bench. Armstrong won 140 games in 14 years with the Bobcats from 1980 to 1994.

Fast forward 16 years and Pecknold, a Bedford, NH native, is one of the most winningest coaches in all of college hockey.

Pecknold currently sits at No. 3 in the charts for most career wins among active division I coaches, trailing Rick Gotkin of Mercyhurst (554) and Jerry York of Boston College (1059).

Wtih 499 career wins under his belt, Pecknold has had tons of success in Hamden.

And he has earned every single bit of it.

Before Quinnipiac was a member of ECAC Hockey, Pecknold oversaw an Atlantic Hockey regular-season title, two MAAC regular-season championships, a MAAC tournament title and an NCAA Tournament birth in 2002.

No matter what conference Quinnipiac plays in under Pecknold, it wins.

In total, the Quinnipiac men’s hockey program has had 17 seasons of 20 or more wins. Pecknold is responsible for 16 of them in the 24 seasons he has completed (and with 14 wins so far this campaign, the Bobcats are well on their way again). Since the Bobcats have entered the division I ranks, there have only been four seasons in which Pecknold has not hit 20 wins. Out of those four seasons, only one of them has ended in a losing season (2017-18: 16-18-4).

It’s not just Quinnipiac hockey fans who have a handle on Pecknold’s dominance throughout his tenure in Hamden.

To provide an example of one successful year, in 2016, Pecknold guided the Bobcats to a 32-4-7 record, which culminated in a loss to North Dakota in the NCAA National Championship Game. For his efforts, Pecknold received the ECAC Hockey Tim Taylor Coach of the Year Award, the Spencer Penrose National Coach of the Year Award and the College Hockey News National Coach of the Year Award.

Not only that, besides all of the countless accolades Pecknold has earned at Quinnipiac, he has a world championship medal to wear around his neck through his work with Team USA. He was called in to coach the U-18 world juniors team in 2016 and the men’s national team in 2017 at the IIHF Championships. In 2017, Pecknold took home a silver medal after Team USA lost to Finland in the gold medal game.

Whether it be in division II, before Quinnipiac joined ECAC Hockey, or now, Rand Pecknold has been the reason Quinnipiac hockey has grown to the powerhouse it is today. With his vision and leadership, he has created a culture that relentlessly demands winning hockey, and consistently backs that up year in and year out.

There’s a chance for the former Connecticut College player to hit the coveted 500-win mark on Saturday, when his Quinnipiac Bobcats, ranked No. 5 in the country, head to Long Island to take on the Colgate Raiders.

Even if Quinnipiac doesn’t take down Colgate on Saturday night, it is a safe bet Pecknold will register career win No. 500 within the next few weeks. When it does happen, a celebration should follow from all of Bobcat Nation.

Students take it for granted. But without Rand Pecknold, Quinnipiac hockey would not be the perennial national powerhouse it is today.

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