Bobcats ready for season opener

Bobcats ready for season opener
by Seth Rothman
October 14, 2007

HAMDEN — The big scoreboard at the TD Banknorth Sports Center read: Quinnipiac – 10, Ryerson – 0″

But for the only time this season, that scoreboard meant nothing.

Last night’s contest between Quinnipiac and Ryerson, a small college in Toronto, was merely an exhibition. A chance, as Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold said, to see what his players can do before the games start to count on Tuesday.

“I think it’s a good oppurtunity, especially the first game of the year, to get some freshmen some ice time, and get them acclimated,” Pecknold said

The best part about exhibition hockey, however, is that the game doesn’t count.

“You can also get the kids in there who you don’t know how much they’re going to play,” Pecknold said. “It’s a good chance for them to showcase themselves and show that maybe they deserve some ice time.”

For Bobcats senior winger Dan Travis, last night’s contest was the end of a long road back. Travis was forced to sit out his first year at Quinnipiac during the 2005-06 season after transferring from New Hampshire. But last December, during his first season playing with the Bobcats, he suffered a serious injury, and was sidelined the rest of the year.

“It’s nice to get out there, get the emotions going,” Travis said. “It was great to just get back out there again. It was a long wait — again.”

However, tonight’s contest wasn’t all positive for the Bobcats. Pecknold was hoping to get extensive work for the penalty killing units, but they were only utilized once during the course of the lopsided game.

Meanwhile, the game was so lopsided, so early, (6-0 Bobcats after the 1st period), Pecknold felt guilty sending his top scorers onto the ice for the man advantage.

“The score of the game made it a little tough at times to run out our top power play unit,” Pecknold said. “I thought tonight would be a good tune up for them, but when it’s 7, 8 to nothing, you just can’t do that.”

Meanwhile, the players enjoyed the game. It’s been a long wait since the team’s elimination on March 17 from the ECAC Hockey Championship Game, and the players were anxious to step back onto the ice in front of their fans.

“Tonight was a good exhibition game — a warm up; work the kinks out here and there,” Travis said. “We’re ready to go.”

It was also a chance to get an early start on working out the mechanics: cleaning the brain of bad habits obtained over the course of a long, hot summer.

“You just want to do the little things right, forecheck, pressure hard, pinch, make those tape to tape passes,” sophomore Brandon Wong said. “You want to finish your oppurtunites and not get into any bad habits.”

“We’re just trying to get everybody on the same page,” Travis said. “Games are alot different than practices. That’s why we do the exhibition games.”

Despite the team’s high ranking by the ECAC Hockey coaches and media, Travis said it’s not getting to the team’s head.

“It’s nice to look at, but it doesn’t do you any good,” Travis said. “It comes down to playing 60 minutes and getting it done on the ice. It’s nice for the recognition, but we have to do alot of competing and working hard.”

It’s a team that isn’t pulling any punches. They expect to contend for the ECAC Hockey Championship, but more importantly, they want the bigger goal.

“We want to get to the [NCAA] tournament this year,” Travis said. “That’s where we want to be, and this is just another step. Tuesday will be another step.”

“We know we want to take it to the top 4 teams in that tournament (ECAC Hockey final four) and come out on top there. Hopefully we can get into the NCAA Tournament,” Wong said. “We come to the rink every day wanting to win. Whatever it takes to be successful.” 

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