Quinnipiac University isn’t really know for it’s athletics but its academics. In the school’s 84 years of existence, the university hasn’t had many professional athletes or athletic triumphs, until recently.
Very few teams had made it to the postseason until this year. The women’s basketball team made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in March. The men’s hockey team made its second NCAA tournament appearance this season, and will appear in its first Frozen Four this week. The baseball team has played in the postseason as well, but not recently. That’s where Quinnipiac’s one professional athlete comes into play. Turk Wendell, the former Met, Cub, Phillie, and Rockie, pitched at Quinnipiac University.
With Quinnipiac’s new found athletic success, can a Bobcat go pro? If one will, they will likely come from the men’s hockey team. The nation’s No. 1 team has 11 seniors graduating, but none of them are signed by NHL teams. However, three Bobcats are signed to NHL organizations.
Sophomore Matthew Peca was drafted in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Peca has 15 goals this season, the second most for the Bobcats. His quick hands and fast feet make him a constant scoring threat.
In the 2009 NHL Draft, sophomore Jordan Samuels-Thomas was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers, now the Winnipeg Jets. He leads Quinnipiac in goals this season, with 16.
Junior Kellen Jones was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL Draft. These three players, along with two seniors, have the greatest chance of playing in the NHL.
NHL scouts attended many Quinnipiac games this season to scout seniors Jeremy Langlois and Eric Hartzell. Langlois and Peca are tied for the lead in points this season, each has 30. Not only can Langlois score, he is a fast skater and a good defender as well.
Goalie Eric Hartzell currently has the best shot of making an NHL roster. The Hobey Baker Award finalist has a 1.55 goals against average, the nation’s third best, and a .933 save percentage, eighth in the nation. Hartzell’s size and stature are similar to some current starting goalies in the NHL. Quinnipiac’s 6-foot-4, 188 pound goalie can be compared to the Oilers’ Devan Dubnyk (6’5″, 194 lbs.), Bruins’ Tuukka Rask (6’2″, 171 lbs.), the Flames’ Miikka Kiprusoff (6’1″, 184 lbs.), and Canucks’ Cory Schneider (6’2″, 195 lbs.). However, teams generally have only two goalies on their NHL roster, so the numbers are not in Hartzell’s favor.
Down the road, freshman Travis St. Denis could have a shot, too. He made an impact for the Bobcats this season, scoring 8 goals. St. Denis saw the ice in 39 of the team’s 41 games. No other freshman played in more than 11.
If Quinnipiac athletics continue their upswing, expect more postseason appearances from the Bobcats. Being the No. 1 hockey team in the nation could help Quinnipiac bring in more top talent to take the Bobcats back to the Frozen Four. Don’t be surprised to see more Bobcats move on to pro teams.
What do you think? What Bobcats have pro potential? Any?