January 24, 2014

ECAC Journal: Quinnipiac's Samuels-Thomas nears century mark

By Dan Guttenplan

Senior Jordan Samuels-Thomas' next point will be the 100th of his career. (Photo by Quinnipiac Athletics)

Jordan Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.) isn’t one to reflect on the first half of his college career, which included two frustrating seasons at Bowling Green.

But as the Quinnipiac senior forward approaches the 100-point mark for his college career, it’s almost impossible not to revisit his prescient decision to take his scoring talents to Quinnipiac following his sophomore season.

“When I talked to (Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold) before I decided to come, he let me know I could be a big part of what they were trying to do. I knew a few guys from the USHL, so I had a feeling it would be a really strong team once I regained my eligibility. Obviously the success we’ve had has been surprising.”

After leading Bowling Green in scoring for two seasons, Samuels-Thomas watched Quinnipiac from the bench in 2011-12 as he served the NCAA-mandated year of ineligibility. Once he was eligible in 2012-13, he played on the third line, finishing on the top-five in scoring on a team that won the ECAC Hockey regular-season championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament national championship game.

“I think that was the hope,” Samuels-Thomas said. “That’s kind of what (Pecknold) talked about. He knew he had the Jones twins (Connor and Kellen), strong goaltending, good solid defense. He knew we could have a really strong team.”

With two goals and three assists in his last four games, Samuels-Thomas now has 99 career points. If he collects a point this weekend, he will join Connor and Kellen Jones in Quinnipiac’s 100 Point Club.

“It kind of just happened,” Samuels-Thomas said. “I haven’t really thought about it. I guess I didn’t have any idea about my numbers for years past.”

With Quinnipiac sitting at No. 3 in the PairWise rankings, Samuels-Thomas may have another chance to play for a national championship this winter.

“This year’s team is a lot different than last year’s team,” Samuels-Thomas said. “We have to compete every night, and it comes down to being consistent. When you get in a groove of competing every night, and you think you can win whether you’re up two or down two, then it starts to take care of itself in tournament play and the NCAAs.”

Game of the Week

Clarkson at Cornell, Saturday (7 p.m.)

Clarkson improved its record in one-goal games to 12-3-2 by posting 3-2 victories over Yale and Brown at Cheel this past Friday and Saturday. Cornell is riding a five-game unbeaten streak (tied for sixth-longest in the country) and has lost just once in its last 10 games (6-1-3).

Player of the Week

John Hayden (Greenwich, Conn.), Yale University

Freshman, Forward

Hayden had a career-best two goals and one assist at St. Lawrence Saturday when the Bulldogs needed to find scoring from an unproven source. Hayden notched his second and third goals of the season to help Yale win 4-2.

ECAC Rankings

1. Quinnipiac (18-4-5; 8-2-3): Through 24 games, Quinnipiac has outscored its opponents, 32-13, in the second period of games. The 32 goals scored are a national-best, while the seven game-winners the Bobcats have scored in the middle frame are also the most in college hockey.

2. Union (15-4-3; 9-2-0): After a two-game sweep at UNH last weekend, the Dutchmen improved to 12-1-1 over their last 14 games. Union is tied for fourth with Ferris State in the PairWise rankings.

3. Yale (9-4-4; 4-3-3): Yale freshman John Hayden (Greenwich, Conn.) had a career-best two-goal and one-assist night at St. Lawrence Saturday to help Yale win 4-2. Yale’s freshman class has been averaging four forwards in the lineup, and has contributed 12 goals (3 game-winners) and 30 points. Yale freshmen have also started every minute in net, with Alex Lyon playing the majority of the minutes.

4. Colgate (11-9-3; 7-3-1): The Raiders are 4-0-1 in 2014 thanks to the strong play of their sophomore class. Sophomore forwards Mike Borkowski (7-13-20), Tyson Spink (3-14-17), Tylor Spink (9-7-16), Kyle Baun (7-9-16), Darcy Murphy (11-4-15) and sophomore defenseman Ryan Johnston (3-7-10) are the team’s top six scorers.

5. Clarkson (15-7-2, 8-2-0): Nothing like getting back to the ECAC Hockey schedule. After going 1-4-1 against Hockey East foes after Christmas break, the Golden Knights earned a sweep last weekend against Brown and Yale.

6. Cornell (9-4-4; 4-3-3): Scary moment for Cornell junior Cole Bardreau, who made a triumphant return this season after sustaining a season-ending neck injury last season. Bardreau needed the help of the Cornell trainer to get off the ice Saturday at the end of 1-1 tie against Dartmouth after he was hit after the final horn by Dartmouth’s Eric Neily.

7. Brown (7-7-3; 4-5-1): Team USA U18 goaltender Blake Weyrick committed to Brown University Jan. 21. He’ll join the Bears following his USHL career. Weyrick, who turns 18 next month, is also getting attention from the NHL as he was ranked No. 3 among North American goaltenders in the recently released midterm rankings by NHL Central Scouting in advance of the 2014 NHL Draft.

8. RPI (8-10-4; 3-5-3): Ryan Haggerty (Stamford, Conn.), who started the season with 18 goals in 15 games, will look to snap a six-game scoring drought when the Engineers host Dartmouth Friday.

9. Harvard (5-10-3; 2-8-3): Scoring goals has been the biggest issue for Harvard this season. The Crimson are scoring 2.00 goals per game in 13 ECAC contests, tied for last in the conference.

10. St. Lawrence (8-12-2; 2-6-2): The good news: St. Lawrence senior Greg Carey has a 17-game points streak. The bad news: St. Lawrence is riding a seven-game losing streak.

11. Dartmouth (3-13-3, 2-9-1): Dartmouth junior forward Eric Neiley has been suspended two games by the ECAC following his actions in the game against Cornell on Saturday. Neiley already received an automatic one-game suspension for getting a game disqualification penalty.

12. Princeton (4-15-0; 3-9-0): Freshman goaltender Colton Phinney has been the team’s bright spot. Phinney has a better GAA (3.47) and save percentage (.900) than senior Sean Bonar.

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