ECAC Journal: Samuels-Thomas never foresaw his fortune
By Dan Guttenplan
Jordan Samuels-Thomas had two rules when he shopped around for a new college in the spring of 2011 after spending two frustrating seasons at Bowling Green.
Samuels-Thomas didn’t want to be part of another rebuilding project after seeing the Bowling Green program go through two coaching changes in his two seasons. Second, Samuels-Thomas wanted to find a school close to his home in Windsor, Conn.
Samuels-Thomas decided on Quinnipiac, a school 40 minutes from his hometown. Coach Randy Pecknold gave Jordan-Thomas his assurances, despite the team’s seventh-place finish in ECAC Hockey in 2010-11, the Bobcats would compete for conference championships soon.
Less than two years later, Quinnipiac (18-3-3 overall, 11-0-1) is in the hunt for a national championship, currently boasting the longest unbeaten streak in NCAA Division 1 at 17 games (15-0-2). In the most recent Pairwise rankings, Quinnipiac is the top-ranked team in the nation.
“Honestly, I wanted to be on a team that was ranked,” Jordan-Thomas says. “But being part of this, I couldn’t have foreseen that. I knew we had a good team that would compete for championships. We’ve been on quite a roll. We’re put together so well, and we’re so well coached. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised by our success.”
Samuels-Thomas is a perfect example of Quinnipiac’s success story. After leading Bowling Green in points as a freshman and sophomore, he has accepted a lesser role after a redshirt season last winter. The redshirt junior has recorded seven goals and five assists in 24 games, spending most of his time on the third line. He ranks fourth on the team in points behind senior captain Jeremy Langlois (11-12-23), senior forward Clay Harvey (3-12-15) and sophomore forward Matthew Peca (7-7-14).
“When I talked to Coach Pecknold before I came here, he walked me through the foundation of the program,” Samuels-Thomas says. “He talked about Peca, who would be there when it was my turn to start playing. It seemed like we’d be a team that would catch people by surprise. It made sense to me.”
Quinnipiac started the season with a record of 3-3-1 in its first seven games. Its losses came against Robert Morris, Colgate and American International. After spending a year off the ice on game day, Samuels-Thomas struggled to find his rhythm.
“Last year was a tough year because I wanted to contribute,” Samuels-Thomas says. “All the games I played before Christmas this year were all over the map. I figured out my game after Christmas break, and as a team, we learned we have to play our best game no matter who we play.”
All 10 of Quinnipiac’s remaining regular-season games will be played against ECAC opponents.
The Bobcats are perfect in league play thus far this season – a trend Samuels-Thomas expects to continue.
“I think we go into every weekend wanting four points,” Samuels-Thomas said “If we pay attention to the details, we know everything we do will contribute to whether we win or lose. The small details need to be taken care of first, and the bigger things will come.”
The No. 1 team in the nation in the Pairwise Rankings, Quinnipiac, will put its NCAA-best 17-game unbeaten streak on the line Saturday in a battle with the Bulldogs, who currently sit in a tie for fifth in the Pairwise Rankings. Yale has also been strong of late. The Bulldogs had a five-game winning streak snapped last weekend in a loss to Colgate.