Hockey East Preview – Merrimack Warriors

By: Sam Davidovich

merrimackHead Coach: Mark Dennehy (11th season)

Last season: 16-18-4 (HE: 5-14-3) (11th in conference)

Losses: D Dan Kolomatis, D Justin Mansfield, F Quinn Gould, F Clayton Jardine, G Kyle Singleton, G Joe Pantalone, G Rasmus Tirronen

Newcomers:  D Alex Carle, F Michael Babcock, F Matt Foget, F Ludvig Larsson, F Derek Petti, G Craig Pantano, G Drew Vogler

The Merrimack College Warriors will look to build upon their post-season momentum from last year when they begin their  season against Clarkson on October 16th. After finishing the 2014-15 season 16-18-4 (including a 9-4-2 record at Lawler Rink to post a top-four home record winning percentage, .667, in Hockey East), they entered the post-season as the 12th seed and swept Northeastern in the first round. The Warriors would then go on to lose to Boston University, the eventual Hockey East champions.

Led by two-time All-New England Coach of the Year Mark Dennehy (2009-10, 2010-11), Merrimack will try to emulate the start of last season, when they won 10 of their first 15 games. Their offense, despite the hot start, was lacking last season, averaging 2.13 goals per game on 27.9 attempts, the second worst mark in Hockey East while opponents scored an average of 2.45 goals per game on Merrimack’s defense. The Warriors fared even worse against other Hockey East teams, averaging 1.73 goals per game against an average opponent’s per game score of 2.69. The Warriors also converted only 14.8% of their power play opportunities, which is something the team will look to improve on next season.

On the other hand, there are some reasons for optimism heading into this season as well. The team will be retaining their top four scorers from last seasons: Brett Seney (26 points), Hampus Gustafsson (25), Brian Christie (23), and Jace Hennig (21). They are also retaining goalie Collin Delia, who will be entering his sophomore year and holds a save percentage of .937 in 9 games.

A player to watch for the Warriors this season will be incoming freshman Matt Foget. Originally scheduled to arrive on campus for the 2016-2017 season, the accelerated left-winger had a breakout season last year, potting 24 goals and 58 assists for the Gloucester Rangers of the CCHL, and will be looked upon to have an immediate contribution to the team.

Bottom Line: With Mark Dennehy behind the bench once again and some more experience under the belt’s of sophomores Delia and Seney, look for the Warriors to make some noise. However their chances of escaping the first round of the post-season may require another upset, as they have not improved their talent enough to compete with the powerhouses of the conference.

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