On Friday, Quinnipiac president John L. Lahey and athletic director Jack McDonald announced extensive plans to upgrade the Braves’ hockey program.
Quinnipiac’s commitment comes in the form of a new hockey arena, implementation of women’s ice hockey at the varsity level, promotion of part-time men’s coach Rand Pecknold to full-time status, the addition of U.S. Olympic women’s ice hockey head coach Ben Smith as a consultant, and increased financial support for scholarships and recruiting.
“The college is very pleased with the tremendous progress all student-athletes and coaches have made during our Division I transition,” Lahey said. “In this region, college hockey is extremely popular and it is our hope to compete with the country’s best men and women’s teams.”
The proposed facility, to be located on newly-acquired property near the Quinnipiac campus, will have separate sections for ice hockey and basketball that will each seat 3,000. In the meantime, Quinnipiac will move to the Northford Ice Pavilion, which opened in September.
Lahey also announced that Quinnipiac will add women’s hockey as an exhibition sport in 1999, moving to varsity status in 2000-2001. Quinnipiac will immediately apply for membership in the ECAC women’s league, and a search for a new coach will begin immediately.
Also coming is the full-time appointment of current Braves’ head coach Pecknold, who has spent the past five years as a part-time coach. Last season, Pecknold guided the Braves to the best winning percentage in school history, a 19-3-1 record in Quinnipiac’s final season in Division II. Meanwhile, Smith, who led the U.S. to the 1998 Olympic gold medal and has been head men’s ice hockey coach at Northeastern and Dartmouth, will serve as a consultant on development for the men’s and women’s teams.