Samuels-Thomas Scores Game Winner in First Game for Quinnipiac After Transfer
by Joshua Seguin/CHN Writer
ORONO, Maine In the closing moments of a game, anyone on the ice can score the game-winning goal, sometimes someone who a fan might least expect it from is the one who provides the drama.
On Saturday night against Maine, a long-awaited appearance by transfer Jordan Samuels-Thomas turned into a night that he won't soon forget. Samuels-Thomas not only appeared in a crucial opening night matchup, but he scored the game-winning goal with 1:26 remaining in regulation, propelling the Bobcats to a big win.
"He was a player at Bowling Green," said Quinnipiac Coach Rand Pecknold. "He was their leading scorer in his two seasons there. He had a tough year to sit and tonight he was rewarded for his hard work."
Samuels-Thomas is Connecticut-raised; he grew up 40 minutes from Quinnipiac University. His transfer from Bowling Green is one that Quinnipiac will reap the benefits of in the next two seasons. In his two prior seasons with Bowling Green he led the team with 25 and 21 points, respectively. But the team was mired in poor seasons.
"I was at Bowling Green for my first two seasons," said Samuels-Thomas. "It was kind of rough at times and I transferred because a lot of losses around the program,"
Per NCAA rules, Samuels-Thomas had to redshirt a year before he could play for Quinnipiac. Saturday night’s game against Maine was his Quinnipiac debut. He currently has two years left of eligibility and his name will be one that Quinnipiac fans will hear a lot of.
"It was a really long year for me," Samuels-Thomas said. "Coming back in my first game was great and it was a little rough at times. To get rewarded for all the hard work was a blessing for me."
Sitting out a year is a tough decision to make for any player. His move to Quinnipiac made sense for both player and team. His addition will boost a program which comes in with high expectations, trying to get over a hump that has seen flashes of greatness, but hasn't yet consistently risen into the ECAC elite.
"It was rough and all I did was practice," said Samuels-Thomas. "When the team went on the road I would go home for the weekend. The season flew by though and I would kind of countdown the days to (this) season."
Coaching turmoil is usually a major factor in players that transfer and that is the case with Samuels-Thomas. After the 2010 season, Bowling Green replaced then-interim coach Dennis Williams, who took over from Dennis Paluch the summer before. This meant not only was Samuels-Thomas left without the coach who recruited him, but he was without all the coaches that he felt comfortable with.
In the midst of the turmoil at Bowling Green, Samuels-Thomas decided to transfer to Quinnipiac after he played one year under Chris Bergeron. His decision was important to him as he was able to move closer to home and his family.
"We had three coaches in my time there," said Samuels-Thomas. "I kind of wanted to come somewhere with stability and I’m from Connecticut. Coach Pecknold has been here for 18-19 years now, it was good to come back home. I am thankful and it’s a blessing that I came here."
Ironically, Pecknold nearly left Quinnipiac over the summer, having been wooed heavily by Massachusetts.
At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Samuels-Thomas would be considered a well-sized forward in college hockey. His presence on the left wing with veteran senior, Jeremy Langlois, as his center is something that will be a big boost this season for Quinnipiac. Langlois had the assist on the Samuels-Thomas goal that gave Quinnipiac the win and a second assist on the Bobcats’ first goal.
"Him scoring the game-winner with 1:26 left to go in the game is unbelievable," said senior forward Jeremy Langlois. "He spent the whole year last year practicing and playing the grind. He hung out with the team but it’s hard when you aren't getting the reward of actually playing in the games. To have a freshman score our first one and him score our second, it is a really good start for the team."
The late goal came with a twist, ruining the opportunity for the two teams to play 4-on-4 overtime. Teams are allowed to agree, in non-conference games, to play 4-on-4 in overtime, and Pecknold and Maine coach Tim Whitehead are considered two big proponents for 4-on-4 OTs to be universal.
Quinnipiac already has the dynamic duo on the first line of the Jones twins and with Samuels-Thomas stepping in on the second line, Quinnipiac should have two lines that compete with the top of the ECAC. Scoring a game winner in such an important game for the Bobcats may prove to be one of the highlights of Samuels-Thomas’ career, but scoring it after a year of sitting it has to be a confidence booster. It is seemingly a reward for all the hard work that he went through.