Tiny Quinnipiac on top of college hockey rankings
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Little-known Quinnipiac, tucked in the northern suburbs of New Haven, Conn., has been the team that just can't lose this season.
The Bobcats are unbeaten in 21 consecutive games -- a streak that dates to Nov. 9 -- and show little sign of stopping.
On Monday, their story reached a new high: Quinnipiac landed the No. 1 spot in both Division I major polls for the first time in program history.
They earned 28 of 34 first-place votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, and 41 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO.com poll.
"I tell you what, they're having fun," said coach Rand Pecknold, in his 19th year with the Bobcats. "They're having fun every day. They are a very confident group and are certainly enjoying this ride so far. No signs of slowing down either. This is still a hungry group."
If the NCAA tournament were to start today, the Bobcats (21-3-4, 14-0-2) would be legitimate contenders to reach the Frozen Four, April 11 and 13 at Consol Energy Center. That is remarkable for a program that is just 15 years old, joined the ECAC in 2005 and is really neophytes in sport spoiled by deep tradition.
How exactly have the Bobcats reached this point?
A hot goalie, significant depth and the right attitude at practice, explained Pecknold.
Goalie Eric Hartzell boasts a 1.46 goals-against average and .936 save percentage and is a likely favorite for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to college hockey's top player.
"He's 6 [feet] 4 and is just a monster in net," Pecknold said. "And he looks bigger than that. He takes up a lot of space. He's an excellent athlete, he's lightning quick with his feet. And this year, it's been extremely rare for him to give up a soft goal. ... Whenever we've struggled a little bit he's been there to bail us out. He's been our best player. He's probably one of the five best players in college hockey right now."
The team's top scorers are Jeremy Langlois (11 goals, 15 assists), and Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick Matthew Peca (9 goals, 9 assists). Junior twins, Conner and Kellen Jones were the team's co-MVP's a year ago.
Minnesota had been ranked No. 1 in the polls for the past six weeks, but dropped to No. 2 in both, followed by Miami of Ohio (18-7-5), Boston College (16-7-2) and New Hampshire (16-7-3).
Many wondered when Quinnipiac might crack the top spot.
Pecknold said he hasn't exactly been able to avoid paying attention to the polls.
"I get asked that question about 25 times a day," he said. "In the end, it's nice. It's a huge reward for our team's success and something the fans and alums that built this program can enjoy. Ultimately, I'm going to enjoy it for about 15 minutes and then we need to move on."
Playoff picture for Robert Morris
The Colonials (15-11-2, 10-10-1) sit in sixth place in the Atlantic Hockey Association after a split with RIT over the weekend. With three more series left -- a home-and-home series against Niagara, Canisus and Mercyhurst -- the team's goal is to stay in the top eight to get home-ice advantage in the AHA playoffs.
Meanwhile, defenseman Chase Golightly was named AHA rookie of the week after a three-point performance in the Colonials' three home games over the past week.
Notre Dame player arrested
Jared Beers, a junior defenseman for the No. 7 ranked Fighting Irish, was arrested last week and suspended indefinitely from the team after getting violent at a bar in South Bend, Ind.
According to a Deadspin.com report, Beers had tried to take beers from other customers, then got violent when the bar manager tried to kick him out.
A woman, according to multiple media accounts, told police that Beers punched her in the face, stepped on her head, face and neck then pulled her ponytail before running away when witnesses called police.
Notre Dame released a statement: "The University is aware of this incident and is confident that it will be handled in a prompt and professional manner through the criminal justice system."
The team went on to sweep unranked Michigan over the weekend.
Connecticut coach seeks help
Connecticut coach Bruce Marshall was not behind the bench when the Huskies visited Robert Morris Jan. 11-12, having just resigned after 25 years on the job. That followed a medical leave two months earlier.
At the time it was unclear why Marshall had resigned, but he told the Hartford Courant last week that he left to undergo alcohol rehabilitation.
"I made a decision that I needed to take a step back and reassess what was important in my life," Marshall told the Courant. "Obviously, a career, but more importantly my health, my family and taking care of my kids. Would July 1 have been better? You know, in the end it doesn't matter when you make that decision to get your hands around something."
The Courant story also disclosed Marshall went through a divorce this year.
Blizzard halts six AHA games
The blizzard that buried much of the Northeast over the weekend postponed six of 12AHA games. Two games were made up Sunday and four more were rescheduled over the next couple of weeks.
Johnny Gaudreau scored twice and Parker Milner stopped 20 shots to lead Boston College to a 6-3 victory against Northeastern Monday night at TD Garden in Boston and give the Eagles their fourth consecutive Beanpot title. Already the defending national champions -- Boston College has won three of the past five NCAA titles -- this class of seniors is the first in school history to go unbeaten in the annual tournament for college hockey bragging rights in Boston.
Harvard beat Boston University, 7-4, in the consolation.
First Published February 12, 2013 12:00 am