One of the surprise stories from last year’s college hockey season was the Quinnipiac Bobcats. They finished with the best season in school history which included a 30-8-5 record, a 21-game unbeaten streak and an appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four championship game.
With that success came a storm of media attention, from playing on television in front of national audiences to features in national newspapers and magazines as well as appearances on national radio shows. For Quinnipiac forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas the media attention was exciting, not just from a publicity standpoint, but also because he wants to one day be a member of the media.
The broadcast journalism major spent last summer as an intern in the sports department of the Fox affiliate in Hartford, Conn., and during his time was able to cover numerous events such as the PGA Tour stop at the TPC at Cromwell. His duties included conducting interviews at various events and editing video highlights for the nightly newscasts.
“I really enjoyed my internship,” Samuels-Thomas said. “When my hockey career is over I can definitely see myself working in television. Ultimately my dream job would be to be a hockey television analyst as I think that would be so much fun.”
Despite 11 seniors being gone from last year’s team, there has been virtually no drop off for the Bobcats. Quinnipiac is currently 11-1-1 this season and in the midst of a 12-game unbeaten streak as the hottest team in the country. One of the reasons has been the inspired play of Samuels-Thomas.
"Jordan has been a force this year,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “He has matured as a player and taken his game to a new level. His main priority has been to consistently compete and to be relentless on the puck. When he does this he is one of the most dominant players in college hockey."
With as successful as last season was, Samuels-Thomas knows there is unfinished business.
“Last year left a bitter taste in our mouth to get so close,” Samuels-Thomas said. “We graduated a lot of players from last year so we have a pretty different team, especially on defense. The seniors know what it takes to get there, so we need to make sure we always push ourselves to the limit. The new guys saw the Frozen Four on TV last year and they want to be a part of that culture. As seniors we knew we needed to step up and provide leadership to make sure we didn’t have a letdown from last year and just keep the success going. We just need to take it one step at a time and the rest will take care of itself.”
In spite of last season’s success, Quinnipiac wasn’t picked in the top 10 of any preseason polls. However, the fourth-ranked Bobcats enter their ECAC Hockey weekend series with Princeton unbeaten in conference play at 5-0-1.
“Some people expected us to have a down year this season and we were not picked very high in the preseason polls,” Samuels-Thomas said. “We started the season with the loss in Alaska but we came back and have played some really good hockey. The series against UMass Lowell [the preseason No.1 team] was a very good test and a time for us to establish ourselves and what type of team we have this year.”
The Winnipeg Jets draft pick has been an integral part of the success as he is one of the team leaders in scoring with 13 points on seven goals and six assists so far this year. Even after leading the team with 17 goals last year Samuels-Thomas knew his game still had plenty of room for improvement.
“I have made huge strides in rounding out my game,” Samuels-Thomas said. “I have become more reliable on the ice not just when we need to get the lead but also when we need to defend it. I need to continue to make sure I compete every play and take nothing for granted because you never know which play may lead to a goal for or a goal against.”
Individual accolades aside, Samuels-Thomas has put his entire focus this year on doing whatever he can for the team to try and capture Quinnipiac’s first NCAA Division I title.
“Our goal for this year is to accomplish everything we did last year and more,” Samuels-Thomas said. “We know what it is like to get there and now we want to know what it is like to finish it.”
Crossing the blue line
• When Mercyhurst hosts Rensselaer this weekend it will mark a homecoming of sorts for Lakers head coach Rick Gotkin, who was an assistant at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 1986-88 before taking the head coaching job at Mercyhurst for the 1988-89 seasons. Gotkin is 2-6 against his former employer, earning his first victory against his former team on Dec. 28, 2003, at the Rensselaer Holiday Tournament. The Engineers posted a combined record of 28-35-2 in Gotkin’s two seasons there.
• New Hampshire has been on a tear lately after a slow start. The Wildcats started the season 1-5-1, but have rebounded to win their last five games in a stretch which has seen them outscore their opposition 24-4, which is an average of just under five goals per game. This weekend they face Providence, who hasn’t allowed more than two goals in a game since Nov. 1.
• North Dakota has not played in a game this season in which either team was shut out. In fact, only once has a team scored only one goal. In all 10 games, one of the teams has finished with either two or three goals. However, even with the lack of shutouts, both teams are only combining to score an average of six goals per game.
Minding the net
Ohio State is unbeaten in its last five games, outscoring its opponents 20-5. … Going back to a 5-4 home loss to Minnesota on Oct. 25, 2011, Minnesota-Duluth is 32-0-4 when its scored four or more goals. … Quinnipiac forward Kellen Jones needs one point to reach 100 for his career. … Holy Cross senior Adam Schmidt needs two assists for 50 in his career. … Northeastern sophomore forward Kevin Roy is one point shy of 50 for his brief career at Northeastern. … Colgate is 5-2 when scoring at least three goals and 1-4-1 when they don’t reach that mark. … Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau is on a seven-game point streak in which he has scored 15 points on nine goals and six assists. … Vermont is a perfect 19-for-19 in penalty kills at home this season. … The Boston U. Terriers are outscoring their opponents 17-7 in the middle period thus far this season but have tallied just nine goals in the first and third periods combined. … Michigan Tech has scored the first goal of the game in all five of its home games and is 4-1-0. It has not led in any of its away games and is 0-6-1 on the road. … Ferris State is on a current seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1), which is the second longest active streak in country this season behind Quinnipiac. … There will be a father-son reunion at Ritter Arena this weekend, as Trevor Hills, son of RIT associate head coach Brian Hills is a freshman with the St. Lawrence Saints. … Alabama-Huntsville has lost four games this season by a single goal, all four were the second game of a weekend series. … Alaska Fairbanks’ Cody Kunyk will reach the century mark with his next point as he has 99 points on 44 goals and 55 assists. … Michigan has scored at least one power play goal in eight of its 10 games this season, posting a 6-1-1 record in those contests.