Quinnipiac University season preview

By DJ Powers

The Quinnipiac University Bobcats will open their inaugural season in the ECACHL on October 7th when they travel to Yost Arena to face off against host Michigan.

Quinnipiac is coming off of an outstanding final season over in the Atlantic Hockey conference that saw them reach the conference championship game only to suffer a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss to Mercyhurst. The Bobcats became a dominant force in the Atlantic Hockey and now face the challenge of becoming one as a member of the ECACHL.

The biggest story to come out of Quinnipiac last season was the sensational play of defenseman Reid Cashman. He led the nation in scoring among defensemen with 45 points (13 goals, 32 assists) as well as points per game (1.22). Cashman’s sensational season earned him many honors including Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year and being named one of the ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. Cashman, who will be a junior this season, is far more than just an offensive defenseman. He’s a tremendously smart player who plays both ends of the ice very well. His tremendous skating and transitioning ability along with his creative puck skills are really something to marvel at.

Quinnipiac’s blue line looks to be their strength this season as they return the defense nearly intact. The rugged Tom Watkins was the lone defenseman lost to graduation. Among the returning players joining Cashman on the blueline are imposing senior Joe Testa and superb sophomore Matt Sorteberg. Testa continues to be a dominant force on the Bobcats blueline. He finished with two points (both assists) in 24 appearances. Sorteberg became one of Quinnipiac’s most consistent defensemen in his rookie campaign last season, being a significant contributor in virtually every facet of the game. He finished the season with 23 points (three goals, 20 assists) and was one of six players to play in all 37 games. Sorteberg’s stellar season earned him a spot on the Atlantic Hockey All-Rookie team.

In addition to their returning players, the Bobcats will welcome three new defensemen in Dan Henningson, Creighton Scarpone and Andrew Meyer. Henningson comes to Quinnipiac from Drayton Valley (AJHL), where he amassed 52 points (14 points, 38 assists) in 69 games. Scarpone comes to Quinnipiac from Fargo-Moorhead (NAHL), where he amassed 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) and 93 penalty minutes last season. Meyer comes to Quinnipiac from Green Bay (USHL), where he amassed 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) in 48 games.

The Bobcats will need the stability of the defense this season, as they will be quite inexperienced in goal. Workhorse Jamie Holden (SJ), who helped propel the Bobcats all the way to the Atlantic Hockey conference championship, has graduated. Senior Josh Siembeda and sophomore Brian Papcun are the returning sophomores. Both played fewer than 11 games combined last season and are expected to battle for the starting job. Also vying for ice time will be a pair of newcomers in Bud Fisher and Wes Russell. Fisher comes to Quinnipiac from Lindsay (OPJHL). Russell comes to Quinnipiac from the Springfield Jr. Blues (NAHL), where he amassed a 2016-1 that included two shutouts.

The forward lines for Quinnipiac will be predominantly young but very good. The Bobcats lost several significant players up front due to graduation including top scoring forwards Matt Craig and Matt Froehlich. Craig co-led the Bobcats with 18 goals as well as led the team with 11 power play goals. The rugged Froehlich finished with 28 points (15 goals, 13 assists).

A trio of outstanding seniors in Ty Deinema, Joe Dumais and John Kelly lead a very solid group up front. Deinema, who will serve as team captain this season, finished last season with 11 points (one goal, ten assists) playing in all 37 games. Deinema is in many ways the heart and soul of the Bobcats team. The feisty Dumais finished the season with 14 points (four goals, ten assists). The imposing Kelly finished with 11 points (four goals, seven assists). Kelly, who has become one of Quinnipiac’s best defensive forwards, will be looking to get back on track this season after enduring an injury-plagued season last year.

Aside from Cashman, one player to watch this season is sophomore Ben Nelson. The Spokane, WA native is the top returning scorer. After missing the first two months of the season due to injury, Nelson made a big splash in his Quinnipiac debut. He made his start back on December 5th versus Holy Cross tallying on his first shot. He went on a torrid scoring pace after that, eventually finishing third on the team with 28 points (18 goals, 10 assists). His season performance earned him a spot on the Atlantic Hockey All-Rookie team.

Five incoming freshman forwards will make their debut with Quinnipiac. Most notable are Brian Leitch, Chris Myers and Mark Nelson. The 6’3/190 lbs. Leitch comes to Quinnipiac from Merritt (BCHL), where he amassed 87 points (40 goals, 47 assists) in 51 games. Myers comes to Quinnipiac from Sarnia (OPJHL), where he racked up 69 points (31 goals, 38 assists) and 97 penalty minutes last season. Nelson comes to Quinnipiac from Vernon (BCHL), where he amassed 73 points (37 goals, 36 assists) in 60 games.

The level of success that Quinnipiac achieves this season will depend upon how reliable their goaltending is and how disciplined the team can be. Holden was stellar last season, often keeping the Bobcats in games and giving them a chance to win. With the aggressive, in-your-face style that has become synonymous with Quinnipiac hockey, discipline will also be crucial to the team’s success.

(Number of NHL prospects on 2005-06 roster: 0)

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