Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Quinnipiac Head Coach Rand Pecknold

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, February 13th at 2:00 p.m. ET, Quinnipiac Head Coach Rand Pecknold enters the "Tuesday @ The Rink" chat room, presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. The Bobcats travel to Cornell and Colgate this weekend.

Rand Pecknold

Since taking over as head coach of the Quinnipiac University men's ice hockey team 12 years ago, Rand Pecknold has seen plenty of changes. One thing that has not changed, though, is a proven track record filled with successes and accomplishments, both on the team and individual fronts.

In Pecknold's previous 12 seasons as head coach at Quinnipiac, he has accumulated the most wins of any coach in program history and is a two-time finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award, given annually to the top Division I college hockey coach. Pecknold has guided Quinnipiac to two MAAC regular season titles, one Atlantic Hockey regular season title, one MAAC tournament title and the first-ever NCAA berth in program history in 2002.

Faced with one of the biggest challenges since taking over as head coach of the program, Pecknold made sure that things didn't skip a beat in 2005-06. The Bobcats reached the 20-win plateau for the seventh time in eight seasons, finishing at 20-18-1. Quinnipiac also registered a first-round playoff sweep of RPI and took Colgate to three games in the quarterfinals. Quinnipiac also posted its 10th straight winning season overall and eighth in a row at the Division I level. Only six Division I schools--Quinnipiac, Michigan, Michigan State, New Hampshire, Northern Michigan and Maine--have managed to post eight straight winning seasons over that span.

Before he came to Quinnipiac, Pecknold served as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Connecticut College, for three seasons under head coach and former NHL player, Doug Roberts.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Rand won't be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, February 13th, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Good afternoon, and welcome to the second of today's "Tuesday @ the Rink" chats, presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. We're awaiting Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold.
CSTV.com Moderator: We're on the line now with Rand Pecknold.
Coach Pecknold: Hi, I'm excited to be here to answer your questions about Quinnipiac University Hockey.

Steve (Springfield): Rand, obviously you have a big ECAC weekend coming up, but you play AIC tonight. Are you worried your guys might look past tonight's game and have a battle with the Yellow Jackets?
Coach Pecknold: Well, I'm certainly concerned about every game that we play, about being prepared, and I'd think AIC's no different than any other game. You need to be prepared and mentally focused. We've striggled with that at times this year, not just in non-conference games, but also within the ECACHL. I'm as concerned with AIC as I am with any other game we'll play this year.

Andrew (Wallingford, CT): Coach, Bud Fisher has started every game this season. Is there any chance he'll get a rest with the next three games with in a week? You host AIC tonight, any comment on who the starter is?
Coach Pecknold: Yes, there's always a chance that we could start one of our other goalies instead of Fisher, but I never comment on a starting goalie before the game, and I'm going to stick to that policy.

Keith (Concord, NH): Rand, Your non conference schedule seems like it could be stronger than it currently is. Will the new building allow you to possibly make your schedule stronger with different teams than you currently are playing?
Coach Pecknold: I think the scheduling process is evolving for us, not only with the new facility, but also as a new member of the ECACHL, so we're still trying to work out some of the kinks in our non-conference schedule, and I certainly feel as we move forward, we will schedule the best teams possible, whether it's on the road or at home.

ttnorm (Naugatuck, CT): Coach, thanks for the chat. 5 years ago I remember watching your players at their 1st NCAA appearance carrying their sticks out to the bench. Now you're in a better conference and have a 1st rate building. How much different is it for you personally?
Coach Pecknold: We certainly have a lot more resources now than we've had in the past, from equipment managers to full-time staffing, etc., and it allows me to focus more on just coaching the team and making my players better and being prepared for teams we're going to play. I definitely think it makes my life easier, and I think it makes me a more effective coach. In addition, the additional resources we have also allow me to focus in more on our recruiting.

Jim (Hampton NH): Rand, The team has had a great 2nd season in the ECAC. What should we expect for QU to fight off Dartmouth and Cornell and ensure a top 4 seed in the ECAC playoffs?
Coach Pecknold: What I think we need to do as we go into our last four ECACHL games is play a little more consistent. The second half of the year, we've been a bit erratic with our competitiveness, and it's hurt us at times. If we want a top four seed and a first-round bye, we need to play hard and be competitive. Certainly, it's a togh road out for us. The four teams that we play are four of the better teams in the league.

Dexter (Tsawwasswen, BC): Hi Rand, long time fan of you and the Bobcats...how important would you say the concept of playing with 'urgency' is and is it preached consistently enough at the college level and is it difficult to make players understand it? Thanks Rand.
Coach Pecknold: As a coaching staff, we talk about urgency almost every day, but it's difficult to get kids to buy in and realize how important it is. We certainly try our best. Urgency is a big part of competitiveness. We've struggled with our competitiveness at times, and I could also say we've struggled with our urgency at times.

Mike (Stratford, CT): Rand, what has been the biggest difference for the penalty kill this year? The team is tied for the national lead in shorthanded goals and Eric Lampe and Brandon Wong are tied for the lead?
Coach Pecknold: I think our improved penalty kill has been a big reason for our success. Last year, we were towards the bottom of the ECACHL, and this year we've been first or second for most of the year. First, Bud Fisher is a much better penalty-killing goalie. He reads plays better, and grasps the concept of what teams are trying to do against us to score goals, and a lot of that has come with experience. Secondly, our d-corps is a year older, more mature, and has played well on the penalty - Cashman, Sorteberg, Henningson, Meyer, and Mark Nelson have all been great, and then, lastly, four of my top five penalty-killing forwards are freshmen - Wong, Beaudoin, Atkinson and Lampe - and they've been a huge reason for our success, both from killing percentage, and creating offense with the shorthanded goals.

Taylor (New Haven): Coach, you have recently called the matchup with Yale a "rivalry" but Coach Allain, says that rivalries need time to grow. I'd say the games were pretty hotly contested. What makes a good rivalry?
Coach Pecknold: We've played four games with Yale over the last two years, and the intensity between the teams has been through the roof. I think that's a big part of a rivalry - how fired up players get. In my opinion, my guys get extremely fired up to play Yale, and in both games we played against them this year, the crowd was electric both nights. I think a big part of a rivalry is how the fans perceive the games, and when we've come to the rink for those games against Yale, there's definitely a buzz in the crowd, and that adds to the intensity on the ice.

Jon (Quinnipiac): Mike Atkinson is a player who really brings a lot fo energy to the team. How much of a factor has he been in the Bobcats play down the stretch?
Coach Pecknold: Atkinson's been a great addition for us this year. His competitiveness has been very good, and I think as he matures as a player, I hope I'll be able to say it's excellent at one point. I think we're still feeling the effects of Joe Dumais's graduation last year, because I think he brought so many positive things to the table for our team, and I think in some ways, Atkinson is taking over that role a little bit.

Teague (Fairfield): Coach, I'd love to see a regional tournament resembling the bean pot with local schools, like Sacred Heart. Your thoughts?
Coach Pecknold: We've had conversations with Yale about hosting some type of tournament, and I think it's a possibility down the road. As far as Sacred Heart, we certainly we had a good rivalry with them in the past when we were in Atlantic Hockey, and I would have no problem with renewing that rivalry and getting them back on the schedule.

Bruce (Storrs): Congrats on a successfull season. May I ask why you don't play your arch rival of many years Connecticut? The Heroes Hat is missing from Storrs, and was hoping to win it back from you.
Coach Pecknold: Well, we certainly had a good rivalry with UConn in the Heroes' Hat, and now we've revived the Heroes' Hat this year with Yale, and we will have UConn back on the schedule for the 2008-09 season.

Rick (Hamden): Coach, on the lighter side, who's the funniest player on the team?
Coach Pecknold: Probably Jamie Bates, but I don't know if it's always intentional.

Brian (Wallingford, CT): Rand: Have you noticed an uptick in recruiting efforts with the new building?
Coach Pecknold: Absolutely! There's no doubt that we've moved up considerably on the food chain when it comes to recruiting, and hopefully, we'll be able to take advantage of that. The TD Banknorth Sports Center is one of the best facilities for college hockey on the East Coast. Our locker room complex is one of the best in all of college hockey, to go along with a great campus and quality academics. We feel we're poised to compete on the national scene for elite recruits.

Perry - North Dakota: As an alumni from the University of North Dakota I have seen an unbelievable growth in fan interest in College Hockey since the 1980's. What the biggest changes you have seen at Quinnipiac over the last 12 years?
Coach Pecknold: I could write a book on the changes that we've had! First, we moved up to Division I, then slowly but surely, we started to gain some national prominence, with not only with our highly successful record, but competitive games against the Michigans, Wisconsins, etc. Now, we've moved into the ECACHL and just finished our 12th week in a row ranked in the top 20 teams in the nation. With the TD Banknorth Sports Center now open, we're hoping that this facility, along with everything else, will allow the program to continue to grow. I think the most enjoyable experience for me during all of this growth has been the evolution of our fan base. The culture and atmosphere at our home games over the past month has been as good as it gets in college hockey. We've played at Maine, at Cornell, at Michigan, and at Wisconsin, and it is truly remarkable that I feel confident in saying that we can measure up to the atmosphere in those buildings.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all the time we have this afternoon with Coach Pecknold.
Coach Pecknold: Thank you for all the great questions and all the continued interest in the Quinnipiac University men's hockey program.
CSTV.com Moderator: That'll do it for another "Tuesday @ the Rink," presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. Keep checking back for info on next week's guests. Also, Quinnipiac and ECACHL fans should check out the Rink Rat blog this weekend at http://slog.cstv.com/rinkrat for a very special road trip, as I'll be riding the bus with the Bobcats as they head to Cornell and Colgate, and updating all along the way.
CSTV.com Moderator: Thanks, and have a great week!