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All-Canadian line looks to lead Quinnipiac to NCAA hockey title in Pittsburgh

Wednesday, 04.10.2013 / 6:44 PM / News

The Canadian Press

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All-Canadian line looks to lead Quinnipiac to NCAA hockey title in Pittsburgh

Canadian identical twins Connor and Kellen Jones are headed to Pittsburgh hoping to make some hockey history for little-known Quinnipiac University.

The Bobcats are ranked No. 1 as they head into the Frozen Four, the championship tournament for NCAA hockey.

"It's four teams that won their regionals and earned the right to be here," Connor Jones said Wednesday. "Being ranked No. 1, there's pressure, but we want to have an underdog mentality."

Quinnipiac has risen from obscurity to become the top-ranked team. They are led by goaltender Eric Hartzell, a finalist for the Hobey Baker award as the top player in U.S. college hockey, and an all-Canadian line of the Jones brothers with left winger Matthew Peca of Petawawa, Ont.

Other Canadians in the tournament are Yale centre Antoine Laganiere of Ile-Cadieux, Que., and UMass Lowell's Scott Wilson of Oakville, Ont.

The Joneses are from Montrose, B.C., and grew up watching another set of identical twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, weave magic for the Vancouver Canucks.

"It would be nice to be six-foot-four like them," said Jones, who like his brother is five-foot-nine. "We liked watching them play — their passing, their sense of knowing where they are.

"We try to model our game after them."

Kellen Jones was picked 202nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2010 NHL draft while Peca, no relation to former NHL forward Michael Peca, went 201st overall to Tampa Bay in 2011. Connor Jones wasn't drafted, but still got invited to the Oilers' camp with his brother.

"I get a hard time from my teammates sometimes about being the one who wasn't drafted," Connor Jones said. "But it's good for both of them. We just have fun with it."

Wilson was drafted 209th overall in 2011 by Pittsburgh and will play the Frozen Four in the rink he hopes will be home ice in the future.

Yale's Laganiere is an undrafted six-foot-four centre who is to graduate with an economics degree this year.

Quinnipiac beat Union 5-1 in the East Regional final on a first-period natural hat-trick from Peca to reach the championship.

Now there is excitement over a possible Quinnipiac-Yale showdown in the final. The universities are about 15 kilometres apart in New Haven, Conn.

"It would be some story," said Jones, whose team beat Yale three times this season. "It would be great for the ECAC, which is kind of looked down upon sometimes."

Quinnipiac, with an enrolment of about 5,000, regularly packs its 3,500-seat arena for a team that has been ranked No. 1 for much of the season. Now Jones hopes to help reward them with a first national title.

"It won't be easy," he said. "The sacrifices you make all year and now you're here. . . you have to stay calm and for now only worry about Thursday's game."

St. Cloud State also has a Hobey Baker finalist in forward Drew LeBlanc..

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