Saturday, February 3, marked the grand opening of the Rand and Nikki Pecknold Hockey Suite and Women’s Hockey Lounge, the first phase in a historic renovation project made possible by the largest philanthropic gift the athletic department has ever received, courtesy of former player Jeff Kinkead ’84 and his wife, Mimi.
“The reality of it is, in college hockey right now it’s a little bit of an arms race,” Pecknold, the men’s hockey team’s longtime coach, said before the official unveiling. “In the last 12-15 years, half of all college hockey teams have either built a brand-new rink or redone their locker room. … We have to battle and recruit with the Notre Dames and Ohio States, Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Yale and Princeton. The type of facility you have matters. We needed this.”
Players now have a pristine space for film-study, schoolwork and leisure time, with all the amenities one might expect to find in the players’ lounge of a National Hockey League arena. Peering down from the ceiling in the men’s lounge is the circular Bobcat crest logo, backlit and rendered in three dimensions. The room is ringed in Bobcat gold and emblazoned with words like “relentless,” a nod to the men’s hockey team’s long-running mantra.
The women’s lounge includes a custom bubble hockey table and a work table that’s always outfitted for an impromptu table-tennis match. Both rooms are adorned with multiple wall-mounted flat-screen televisions for breaking down opponents and displaying game plans, along with the latest ECAC hockey standings.
“I was driving up the hill today and I found myself reflecting on how so many amazing things have come our way at Quinnipiac,” women’s hockey coach Cassie Turner said. “In my time here — this is my 15th year — every year it seems like there’s something new. A new commitment to make this an even greater student-athlete experience. What this project has done already for our student-athlete experience has been outstanding. It’s a space for our players to enjoy themselves and have fun and learn. It’s just phenomenal.”
In her opening remarks, President Judy Olian praised the Kinkeads for their generosity in establishing a place for the men’s and women’s ice hockey players to continue to thrive as “role models” and a “rallying cry” for their classmates and the surrounding communities.
She applauded athletic director Greg Amodio and the entire athletic administration for their largely unseen efforts in fostering a winning culture that permeates all the athletic programs on campus.
She reserved special praise for Pecknold and Turner, stewards of two teams whose accomplishments off the ice are just as impressive as their many wins.
“Rand and Cassie, you’ve earned this,” Olian said. “The university is so pleased and proud to support you for who you are and for all you do, for how our players are on and off the ice. It’s not just that we win, it’s how we win. I’m so proud of how we win.”
Added Amodio, who served as master of ceremonies: “This is another amazing accomplishment for our institution, as well as a significant asset for our men’s and women’s hockey programs. This is a tremendous day for Quinnipiac University.”
Jeff and Mimi Kinkead were guests of honor at a brunch in the University Club before being led on a tour of the new lounges. Among those in attendance were players’ parents, alumni, donors and even a few members of the inaugural men’s ice hockey team from 1975, who marked the occasion by donning their old Quinnipiac Braves sweaters.
Jeff Kinkead, president and CEO of Advanced Systems Resources and a former member of the board of trustees at Quinnipiac, was inspired to donate in the aftermath of the men’s hockey team’s 5-2 triumph over Michigan in the semifinals of the Frozen Four at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
As a player who still harbors such pride for Quinnipiac’s humble roots as a fledgling varsity hockey program, he wanted to ensure that all current and future Bobcats would have a first-class facility to prepare for their next shot at glory.
“Being at the games in Tampa and being on the ice with the guys after the game was certainly a huge thrill,” Kinkead said last April. “It was one of those moments where you get a big lump in your throat because you know what it was like in the early days compared to where they are now at the top of collegiate hockey.”
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