For players in the BC Hockey League, the ultimate goal is to utilize their talent and hard work to eventually make their way into the NCAA ranks and pursue a pro career through college hockey.
For examples of the success when it comes to the BCHL and the work it does in sending these young players to school, look no further than the men’s Division I hockey program at Quinnipiac University.
For those not familiar with Quinnipiac, it is a school in Hamden, Connecticut, and has a lengthy history of success in college hockey for both men’s and women’s ranks.
Something special for the men’s program is how strongly tied they are to the BCHL with how many players have either passed through Quinnipiac hockey or currently play on the Bobcats roster today.
With two appearances in the NCAA Frozen Four over the last eight seasons, the Bobcats have built the foundation for winning and made Quinnipiac University a prime landing spot for players looking to enhance their development and look to take the next step in their education and playing career.
Bobcats NCAA hockey
Starting as a Division II program playing in a Division III conference, a team known as the Quinnipiac College Braves waited until 1998 before becoming a founding member of the successful Metro Atlantic Atheltic Conference (MAAC).
The team won the MAAC title in each of their first three seasons in the conference. In 2002, Quinnipiac won its first college hockey playoff series. With the win, it punched a ticket to the Division I NCAA men’s tournament, their first tournament appearance as a program.
In 2005, Quinnipiac University left Atlantic Hockey for the ECAC, where the team then changed its name to the Bobcats and gained national prominence in Division I.
In 2012-13, the team reached new heights by becoming the number one ranked team in the country in the USCHO.com poll and USA Today College Hockey poll.
The same season, the Bobcats were crowned ECAC regular-season champions. On March 24, 2013, the Bobcats received the number one seed in the 2013 NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey tournament, where they eventually lost in the championship game to their bitter rivals – the Yale Bulldogs.
Ever since then, the Bobcats have been a prestigious program near the top of college hockey. Rand Pecknold’s work is one of the great stories in the history of Quinnipiac athletics, as he marks the 2021-22 season his 28th as head coach of the Bobcats.
Current and committed BCHL alum at Quinnipiac
One of my personal favorite parts about the Quinnipiac Bobcats their work with the BCHL and players that pass through. With 15 current rostered players from the BCHL, a lot of the Bobcats’ success can be attributed to the help of the BCHL alumni.
Senior Odeen Tufto, who played one season for the Vernon Vipers in 2015-16, has cemented himself as one of the most prominent Quinnipiac Bobcats ever. Sitting at number six on the all-time points list, Tufto made the very most of his time at Quinnipiac, and 2020-21 was no different.
Our final team award is the Most Valuable Player Award. This guy collected a cabinet full of awards including #ECACHockey Player of the Year and was a Hobey Baker Top 10 Finalist. Congrats to this year's MVP, Odeen Tufto!
— Quinnipiac Men's Ice Hockey (@QU_MIH) May 14, 2021
Finishing second in all of college hockey points scoring to only Cole Caufield (University of Wisconsin), Tufto registered eight goals and an NCAA-leading 39 assists en route to an insane 2020-21 campaign. Over four seasons and 139 games, Tufto put up 168 points while wearing an assistant and captain’s badge for the Bobcats during that time. He signed an entry-level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this spring.
Forward Ethan De Jong (Junior, Prince George) and defenseman Zach Metsa (Junior, Merritt) both also had phenomenal 2020-21 seasons for an offensively gifted Bobcats team, both hovering around or at a point per game scoring average.
Nick Bochen (Freshman, Prince George), Jayden Lee (Sophomore, Langley/Powell River) filled out the BCHL defencemen on the Bobcats roster, while freshman goaltender Yaniv Perets from the Penticton Vees has yet to be scored on in his brief college hockey career.
The BCHL forward group for the Bobcats made up one of the more potent offenses in all of Division I in 2020-21. Along with Tufto and De Jong, the forward group was rounded out by:
- Desi Burgart (Junior, Penticton, Surrey)
- Michael Lombardi (Junior, West Kelowna)
- Christophe Fillion (Freshman, Wenatchee)
- Skyler Brind’Amour (Sophomore, Chilliwack)
- Ethan Leyh (Sophmore, Langley)
- Matthew Fawcett (Sophomore, Powell River)
- T.J. Friedmann (Junior, Victoria)
- Tyler Ghirardosi (Freshman, Trail)
- Corey Clifton (Freshman, Surrey/Trail)
For 2021-22, Penticton Vees center Jacob Quillan will make his way to Quinnipiac and look to make an immediate impact on the ice for the Bobcats. Quillian was a major part of the fantastic 18-1-1 season by the Vees by finishing ninth in the overall league scoring 27 points in 20 games.
BCHL and Quinnipiac alumnus
With a total of 77 BCHL and Bobcats hockey alumni, the BCHL and Quinnipiac hockey partnership has seen all sorts of success over the longstanding connection.
Brian Herbert is an alum of nine seasons between the BCHL and Quinnipiac. Playing for the Bobcats from 1999-2003 and sharing time with three BCHL franchises in the five years prior, Herbert was well over a point per game player at Quinnipiac over four college seasons.
Another notable alumnus of the BCHL and Bobcats hockey is current Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews.
IT'S A DEVON TOEWS EQUALIZER! #GoAvsGo
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) April 29, 2021
Toews, 27, is what a lot of smart hockey minds around the NHL would consider as steady as it gets on the backend. Prior to the 2021 NHL season, Toews was sent from the New York Islanders to the Colorado Avalanche for the value of only two second-round draft selections.
That deal appears to be that of a highway robbery for the Avalanche, who gained a defensively flawless player with offensive upside, as well. Toews, who was once developing into the player he is today at Quinnipiac (2013-16) and with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles, is more than likely going to be a time-on-ice leader during the NHL playoffs as the Avalanche look to take their shot at the Stanley Cup.
Complete list of BCHL alumni at Quinnipiac