Hockey East Preview- Merrimack College Warriors

BY: JEREMY LEOPOLD

Head Coach– Mark Dennehy (10th Season)

Last Season-8-22-3 (HE: 3-15-2)

Losses: F Rhett Bly, F Connor Toomey, F Mike Collins, D Brendan Ellis, D Jordan Heywood, D Thomas McCarthy, G Sam Marotta

Newcomers: F Jace Henning, F Teddy McCarran, F Brett Seney, F Mathieu Tibbet, F Alfred Larsson D Jared Kolquist, D Aaron Titcomb, D Marc Biega, D Braxton Bilous, G Collin Delia

The Warriors took a major step back last season finishing under .500 in the conference for the first time since the 2008-2009 season.

Last place Merrimack did not do anything well last year finishing at or near the bottom of the conference in every major category. They were last in scoring offense and defense and had the worst special teams in the conference.

Dennehy’s last place scoring offense (1.6 g/gm) is going to take another hit this season with the loss of leading point scorer Mike Collins, who had a hand in 40% of the Warriors goals last season. Junior Brian Christie and senior Quinn Gould who were responsible for 14 points apiece will both need to step up in a big way to dig this offense out of the cellar.

The blue line is not looking much more promising for the Warriors. The losses of key facilitators Brendan Ellis and Jordan Heywood leave gaping holes in the back where they were already weak, allowing 3.3 g/gm. The one bright spot for Dennehy’s club among defenseman is the return of Justin Mansfield who, in his junior season last year, played in all 33 games and was one of only two Warriors to post in the positive for plus/minus. If Mansfield can stay out the penalty box, a place he knew well last year, racking up 36 penalty minutes.  Besides Mansfield, senior Dan Kolomotis and sophomore Jonathan Lashyn will need to step up after being two of the best defenseman for Merrimack last season but average compared to the rest of the conference.

Senior Rasmus Tirronen will handle the goaltending duties for the Warriors again after an unspectacular 2013- 2014 campaign. Tirronen’s .895 save percentage and .267 win percentage were good for last in conference among qualifying goalies. With no real competition for the job, it looks like Dennehy does not have much choice but to start his senior and hope he plays better than last season.

Bottom line: Don’t expect too much improvement from Merrimack this season. While they are unlikely to be as bad road as they were last year posting only one win, they did not gain much and they lost the bulk of their offense. Don’t be surprised when the Warrior’s are bottom feeders yet again this season in Hockey East.