Quinnipiac hockey's X factor: Jordan-Samuels-Thomas

Quinnipiac senior forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas

Quinnipiac takes on Colgate in the second ECAC Hockey semifinal from Lake Placid at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

How valuable is Jordan Samuels-Thomas to the Quinnipiac hockey team? The senior missed six games in the month of February due to an injury and the Bobcats went 1-4-1 without him in the lineup. With the West Hartford, Conn. native, the Bobcats were 23-4-5.

"It's pretty simple. He missed six games and we were 1-4-1. We have a pretty good record with him in the lineup and not very good without him," said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold.

Samuels-Thomas, a six-foot-four power forward drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers (Winnipeg Jets) in the 2009 NHL Draft, transferred to Quinnipiac after playing two seasons at Bowling Green.

"Samuels-Thomas is a future pro, an NHLer. He plays so physical and is strong on the puck. He is a big part of their success. They had a little bit of a hiccup when he wasn't in the lineup. He's a valuable asset for them," said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan.

Samuels-Thomas has 13 goals and 16 assists on the season and has registered at least one point in six of the last seven games he has dressed. 10 of his 29 points have come on the man advantage, a point Pecknold noted in his conference call with reporters earlier this week.

"Jordan gives us such a legitimate option on the power play. He's a great power play kid," explained the veteran coach.

In addition to Samuels-Thomas being such a good player in his own right, his being in the lineup also adds to the depth of the team and forces opposing coaches into making difficult decisions.

"He makes us three lines deep. You have to pick your poison against us, how you want to defend against us if he's in the lineup. You have to put your five-six [defensive] pairing against Jordan's [line], [Matthew] Peca's [line] or the [Jones] twins line when he's in the lineup," said Pecknold.

Samuels-Thomas has also improved his overall game and his play in the defensive zone this season. Only defenseman Danny Federico of the entire team has a better +/- than Samuels-Thomas' +17.

"He's been great for us, not only offensively, but he's really rounded out his game defensively. I've been very happy with him," explained Pecknold.

"Without him, we're just not as good," stated Pecknold.

It's a good thing for Quinnipiac fans that the big, physical senior will be in the lineup Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Colgate.

Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSports.

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