“Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.”
Trail native Travis St. Denis can cap off very successful university career this weekend as he and the 31-3-7 Quinnipiac University Bobcats begin action today in the Frozen Four NCAA championship hockey tournament in Tampa, Florida.
Success has followed the former Trail Smoke Eater around like Sam Coleridge’s albatross, and with a victory over the Boston College Eagles today the senior Finance major will make his second trip to the Frozen Four final in four years.
“My four years at Quinnipiac has been an unreal experience,” St. Denis told the Times on the eve of the big game. “To go to the Frozen Four two times now is something I will never forget.”
St. Denis found success in Penticton with the Vees when they won the RBC championship in 2012, and won gold for Team Canada West at the 2011 World Junior Amateur Championship. As a freshman for Quinnipiac, he made the trip to the Frozen Four with veteran Bobcats Kellen and Conner Jones of Montrose only to lose in the final against Yale. St. Denis has been named to the ECAC All Academic team three years running, has had a pair of Player of the Week honours this year, and finished second in QU scoring with 22 goals and 46 points in 41 games, good for 14th in the nation, and, yet, he is probably the most underated player in NCAA hockey.
“He’s been fantastic, he’s been one of our best players,” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold “His first three years he was a very good player for us, and now he’s an elite player. He’s a quiet leader but he competes hard, and that’s his main strength is his competitiveness, and he brings it every day to practice and brings it in the weight room, and he doesn’t take any shifts off. He has been great, he’s having a great year all around.”
So after four years and 122 points, St. Denis’ prolific NCAA career will come to a close this weekend, but with the spotlight shining as bright as ever on the 23-year-old centerman, he is intent on savouring this final leg of the journey.
“I think I am enjoying it more this time because I am a senior and this is my last chance to win a national championship,” said St. Denis. “We have a great group of guys this year and I’m looking forward to an awesome weekend here in Tampa Bay.”
Two more Smoke Eater alumni and Trail natives, Scott Davidson and Craig Martin, will also share the experience with St. Denis, along with a dozen recruits from the BCHL, including Braden Sherbinen (Salmon Arm Silverbacks) who was born in Trail, and Tanner McMaster whose grandparents live in Rossland.
Like 2013, the Trail connection has helped the Bobcats to only its second appearance in the national semifinal, but this time, with St. Denis as the veteran leader, and Martin and Davidson freshmen.
As rookies, this season was a learning process for Davidson and Martin, but both came on strong down the stretch with Martin netting his first goal of the campaign during the team’s Cleary Cup victory, and Davidson scoring twice in the final two matches of the NCAA Eastern Regional championship, including the insurance marker in a 4-1 victory over UMass-Lowell. Davidson also was named to the All-tournament East Regional team.
“It definitely makes it more special to share this moment with people I grew up with,” said St. Denis. “All of those cold early morning practices in the Cominco Arena and hot summer days playing street hockey in the Sunningdale Tennis Courts have definitely paid off for us.”
If the Bobcats are successful against BU today (5 p.m. ET), they will play the winner of the North Dakota-Denver game on Saturday at 8 p.m.
With the final moments ticking off before puck drop this afternoon, nothing would be sweeter than for St. Denis and the Quinnipiac Bobcats to complete the script with a storybook ending.
“I can’t even describe how great it would be to win a championship this weekend,” said St. Denis. “It is a goal for every college team coming into the season and we have a great opportunity to accomplish that this weekend.
“The support from all of the Quinnipiac students and alumni, and also from family and friends back home has been unbelievable through this whole experience. I’m looking forward to a fun weekend.”