by Tim Rosenthal/Staff Writer
Head Coach: Mark Dennehy
2006-07 Record: 3-27-4 (3-22-2 Hockey East)
Key Returnees: Derek Pallardy F SR., Rob Ricci F JR., John Goebel F JR., Brock Wilson D JR., Patrick Watson G JR., Pat Bowen D SO., Joe Loprieno D SO., Brandon Sadlowski D SO., Pat Kimball F SO., Matt Jones F SO., J.C. Robitaille F SO.
Key Losses: Ryan Sullivan, Matt Byrnes, Justin Mills, Jim Healey, Mike Alexiou
Last season for Merrimack was another exercise in frustration. The team was dead last on the power-play (8 percent) with only 14 power-play goals. Another category they were dead last in was the scoring margin average. On average the Warriors gave up 3.26 goals per game, while only scoring 1.09 (a difference of -2.17).
But there was a significant loss last year — Rob Ricci will return after serving a team-imposed suspension. In the 2005-06 season, Ricci had 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points.
"Last year we lost our best offensive player," said head coach Mark Dennehy about Ricci. "We were inexperienced."
Now that Warrior fans are thankful the 2006-07 is behind them, the 2007-08 season could bring a little more confidence with the returning Ricci. But at the same time, there is doubt with a small number of upperclassmen (eight — one senior, seven juniors).
"Derek Pallardy will be our captain," said Dennehy. "He had great leadership last year. He is our lone senior. We are in need for some juniors and sophomores to step up. He is like a fourth coach out there and he leads by action."
Another question mark this year could be the goaltender. Ever since Joe Exeter left in 2002-03, the Warriors have not found their top-goaltender yet. Often people have shared time in net.
"This position will be battled out," said Dennehy. "Patrick Watson and Andrew Brathwaite will battle it out."
This year's recruiting class has 10 newcomers. The class of 2011 will be asked to contribute with a small number of upperclassmen.
"This is a special class," Dennehy mentioned. "I am excited with the kids coming in and hopefully they can contribute to a competitive environment."
Looking ahead to 2007-08, Dennehy knows that there will be some improvement to this team. "Last year's best players returned. Getting Ricci back will be a huge impact."