Quinnipiac Senior Displaying Knack for Timely Goals
by Jill Saftel/CHN Reporter
PROVIDENCE, R.I. Kevin Bui isn't the player expected to score a double overtime game winner in the quarterfinal round of the ECAC playoffs. And he's definitely not the player you expect to win the go-ahead goal to win in the first round of an NCAA Regional. But it doesn't look like anyone told Quinnipiac's fourth-line left winger that.
His third-period goal Saturday night came when Bui tucked a rebound past Canisius goaltender Tony Capobianco, breaking the 3-3 tie between the teams with 6:32 left in regulation. The top-seeded Bobcats had trailed the sixteenth-seeded Golden Griffins, 3-1, four minutes into the final period before mounting a comeback.
Bui and the Bobcats are now one win away from a Frozen Four berth. But the forward's time on the ice at Quinnipiac isn't typical of most players headed in that direction. He was a late recruit when he entered as a freshman for the 2008-09 season. That season, he played just 11 games and didn't see ice time until January.
After totaling two assists in his freshman season, Bui didn't see any ice time as a sophomore. He then left the program and wasn't a part of the team for the 2010-11 season.
"That year was definitely tough but it made me a lot better, just talking to coaches and getting back into practice, just working hard. It's starting to pay off here," Bui said.
As a result, Bui is one of the oldest players in college hockey — turning 26 in a few weeks.
"I said I was going to do everything to get back," he said. "A few years later, here I am."
In 30 games played this season, he has four goals and seven assists for 11 points. The numbers aren't staggering, but their timing is. Two postseason game-winners in the last three weeks, the first coming in Game 3 of Quinnipiac's quarterfinal series against Cornell on March 17.
"We don’t do a team yearbook, but if we did, he’d be most likely to succeed," Pecknold said. "He’s a special person. He’ll be running a company one day, an IBM or something.
"He’s paid his dues, too. Look up how many games he’s played for us over the years, it wasn’t a lot. But he’s been great this year. He’s had some huge goals and he knows his role. He’s a fourth-line left wing and he does his job by bringing energy. He doesn’t wear a letter for us, but he’s a captain without it.”
Bui's extended time around the program has offered him a look back at his career a little longer than most, and he said his unconventional route has contributed to his success, regardless of how long it took to get here.
If Quinnipiac's style is a grinding, won't-quit determination, it has no better poster boy than Bui. He's slow to take credit for coming alive at the right time, and he laughed trying to find the words to explain his recent success. If you can't believe a player who took as much time off from game action as he did has been the hero so far, it seems like he can't either.
"It's just been a lot of hard work paying off right now, and a lot of lucky bounces as well, being at the right place at the right time," he said. "But everybody on the team is just working really hard.
"That's what our team is built on, on working and competing. That's what coach's practices are built around. Guys are competing in practice, we almost had a fight yesterday because we were competing with each other and that's what makes us better."
The Bobcats have something to prove, and it wasn't proven during the ECAC tournament after falling to Brown 4-0 in the semifinals.
As for the win over Canisius, much like the hurdles in Bui's career, it's a chance to take something away from the experience and build on it for improvement. As the tournament's top seed coming from the ECAC, the Bobcats have their doubters and going down two goals to the last seed certainly didn't do anything to put those doubts to bed.
"We kind of had a mental lapse in the second period, and you've got to put teams away. Once you start playing better teams it's going to be harder to get back into the game. It's a lesson, but we've got to keep going.
"We're going to go in tomorrow, whoever it is ... and we're just going to compete. We'll just take it like another game, we've got to play sixty minutes and we'll get a win."