"WE TRAIN HARD all year long, really hard up until February," says Quinnipiac's strength-and-conditioning coach Brijesh Patel, as the 6,500-student, Hamden, Conn., school prepares for its second Frozen Four in four years. "Then we start to emphasize speed and power. We want to be the fastest and most powerful and physical at the end of the year." One constant part of the Bobcats' workout is their warmup routine, what the 35-year-old Coach B, as he's known, calls a "neural charge."
The idea is to improve blood flow and wake up the nervous system through a six-part, six-minute circuit that includes various jumps, medicine ball throws and short sprints. "Your brain and nervous system control everything," Patel says. "By doing exercises that are for a short amount of effort, it allows the brain to fire that signal. It's like learning a new skill."
It's hard to argue with the results. When coach Rand Pecknold started in 1994, Quinnipiac was a 19-year-old Division II program coming off a 6--18 season. The Bobcats were such an afterthought that the only ice time they could get was at midnight. "We couldn't [recruit] elite players," says Pecknold.
In 2007 the school opened the TD Bank Sports Center, an on-campus pro-style arena with 3,252 seats and state-of-the-art fitness facilities. Coach B, who has a bachelor's in kiniseology and a master's in sports management from UConn, arrived from Holy Cross one year later, and the Bobcats took off. They made the Frozen Four in 2013, losing 4--0 to Yale in the final. This season they are 31-3-7 heading into a showdown with Boston College in Tampa on Thursday.
Until then Coach B will keep pushing his players, who aren't allowed to wear headphones while lifting. "One of the things he preaches is to be loud," says junior defenseman Devon Toews. "If a guy is doing the most weight he's ever done, everybody's around cheering him on."
"The emphasis isn't getting as many rounds as we can," Patel says. "The emphasis is doing better every single time." Even for a team that lives on the ice, it all starts with a warmup.
Presented by edge
Feeling out of it? Get pumped for any workout with three of the six steps from Quinnipiac strength-and-conditioning coach Brijesh Patel's neural-charge warmup
[This article consists of 3 illustrations. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
Attach a stretch band to a pull-up bar. Grab the band, squat, then explode upward, using the band's spring to jump higher. Repeat three times.
Shift your weight to your left leg and jump laterally, landing on your right foot. Do this again from the right leg. Do three per leg.
Medicine Ball Throwdown
Lift an eight- to 12-pound medicine ball above your head, and slam it down like you're celebrating a touchdown. Repeat three times.
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QUINNIPIAC ATHLETICS (ANAS)
Hot Shot Sam Anas (7) has a team-high 24 goals in 41 games this season.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY MARTIN LAKSMAN