Matthew Peca made sure his Quinnipiac Bobcats advanced to the Frozen Four in their first national tournament last week.
The Lightning’s 2011 seventh round pick scored the fastest natural hat trick in tournament history on Sunday, notching three goals in just over three minutes in the Bobcats’ victory over Union. He also had one goal in QU’s win over Canisius College in the regional seminfinals on Friday and for that reason is our Bolt Prospect of the Week.
Peca’s hat trick earned him the top play on ESPN’s SportsCenter and he was one of two poll options on ESPN’s front page for most impressive weekend showing.
QU will now face St. Cloud State University in 10 days at the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh.
The sophomore’s coming out party came on national television, as the game was aired on ESPNU. Each goal was scored off effort plays – a calling card of Peca.
The 5-9 winger was drafted out of Pembroke of CHL-Tier 1 where he captained the Lumber Kings to a national championship. He was named top forward at the RBC Cup. Peca’s coach, GM, and owner in Pembroke was former Lightning prospect and player Sheldon Keefe, who played a similar gritty style, but may have lacked Peca’s natural skill level.
Multiple junior clubs, including Patrick Roy’s Quebec Remparts, tried to sway Peca to join them instead of going to school, but the son of a teacher (his mom) decided to go the scholastic route. He is now majoring in business.
The college route has worked for Peca so far as he was second on the club in scoring as a freshman with eight goals and 39 points in 39 games. This year he started slow, but finished the year strong and currently sits at 15-15-30 in 37 games, which is tied for the club lead.
Peca, ranked the No. 25 Lightning prospect (and rising) by BoltProspects.com, projects as a scoring winner at the NHL level should he add weight and take full advantage of his development time. That will likely have him in Connecticut for at least another year – and possibly two – before joining AHL Syracuse. That development path worked well for Alex Killorn, and could produce similar results for Peca.