Quinnipiac reaches top level thanks to player improvement

PITTSBURGH — A high-class facility and the all amenities that come with it certainly can play a part in a team’s success.

But you need good players to accompany the shiny off-the-field extras. Just ask the Miami Marlins.

So, while Quinnipiac’s move from a town skating rink to the brand new TD Bank Sports Center in 2007 helped raised the profile of the program, their players have gotten them to Pittsburgh.

More than that, Quinnipiac has a number of players who have improved significantly from last season to now. And that’s why the Bobcats are where they are.

“[It was] kind of a perfect storm that happened this year for us,” coach Rand Pecknold said. “Certainly, we have 11 seniors, which is great. [Goalie Eric] Hartzell was good his sophomore and junior year, and now he’s one of the best goalies in the country, or maybe the best.”

While Hartzell is the one who stands out as making the biggest leap this season, there are several other names that might escape the notice of the average fan.

Seniors Ben Arnt, Russell Goodman and Kevin Bui have all made contributions, while sophomore defenseman Danny Federico and forward Bryce Van Brabant have both been essential for Quinnipiac after not playing much during their freshman season.

“Bryce is huge for us right now,” Pecknold said. “He’s physical. He wins battles. He sets the tone for us. Danny was probably our [seventh defenseman] last year and he’s probably our No. 2 right now.”