Merrimack College men’s ice hockey head coach Scott Borekannounced the completion of the program’s 2018-19 coaching staff on Wednesday.
Joining Borek will be a familiar face in Curtis Carr, who has been a part of the program since 2011-12 – including the last four as associate head coach – as well as new additions Josh Ciocco, Jim Tortorella and Jim McNiff.
Carr will enter his eighth season at Merrimack in 2018-19. He has taken over a major role in recruiting since his arrival and has helped bring in some of the more underrated players in Hockey East to North Andover, including Hockey East Third Team All-Stars Collin Delia ’17, who signed a professional contract with the Chicago Blackhawks in the summer of 2017 and debuted with the Blackhawks in 2018, as well as Brett Seney, a 2015 National Hockey League (NHL) Draft fifth round selection by the New Jersey Devils. Carr also recruited defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic, one of the top young defensemen in Hockey East who was drafted in the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets and who represents the second-highest draft pick by a student-athlete in program history.
“I’m very excited that Curtis will be remaining with the program,” Borek stated. “His loyalty to Merrimack College Hockey and his exceptional ability to communicate that loyalty will be integral to the program moving forward.”
In each of the last seven seasons, Carr has overseen Merrimack’s penalty kill unit, and his presence has certainly been felt. The Warriors have boasted some of the stingiest defense over the last seven years. Since taking over the unit, Merrimack has ranked third or better in Hockey East in three out of those seven years.
Ciocco, who will serve as an assistant coach on the Merrimack staff, spent the previous two seasons as Assistant Coach at Brown University (ECAC). He helped produce four All-Ivy League student-athletes over that span, as well as one ECAC Third Team All-League selection. Brown posted a four-win improvement during Ciocco’s second season on the coaching staff, and two spots higher in the league standings at the end of the 2017-18 season compared to 2016-17.
“I have known Josh for over a decade,” said Borek. “His leadership as a student-athlete, along with his attention to detail, make him a perfect fit for Merrimack. I am excited to see his work come to fruition both on the road and behind our bench in the years ahead.”
Before Brown, Ciocco spent three seasons (2013-16) at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA) as an assistant coach. He spearheaded the program’s recruiting efforts, bringing in a WCHA All-Rookie Team selection. Prior to his stint at UAA, Ciocco served as assistant coach of Milton Academy, while scouting amateur hockey events for the U.S. Hockey Report. Ciocco played for the University of New Hampshire from 2003-07 under Borek, who was on Dick Umile’s coaching staff. As a player at UNH, Ciocco helped the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament each year, serving as captain during his senior campaign.
Tortorella, the Director of Men’s Ice Hockey, arrives in North Andover after enjoying success last winter as the head coach at nearby Saint Anselm College, where he led the Hawks to their 10th Northeast-10 Conference title in his first season behind the bench. He brings over two decades of experience at the collegiate level to North Andover, including prior stints at Providence College and the University of New Hampshire. He also spent 16 seasons at NCAA Division III Colby College, where he remains the program’s all-time winningest coach with a record of 230-138-33 (.617). He coached 78 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) All-Academic choices, 20 NESCAC All-Stars and 16 All-Americans, while guiding the Mules to the league’s Final Four 10 times. He was twice named the NESCAC Coach of the Year (2005-06, 2007-08) and was also tabbed the New England Sports Writers Coach of the Year in 2007-08, as well as being a finalist for the National Division III Coach of the Year three times (1995-96, 2005-06, 2007-08).
“We are extremely fortunate to have added Jim [Tortorella] to our staff,” said Borek. “His extensive experience will aid our program, players and staff in multiple areas of teaching, involvement and development. His experience as a head coach will be invaluable to the program moving forward.”
Tortorella has also worked with USA Hockey as the long-time Director of New England Select Teams Player Development (1997-2003, 2008-15) and has coached at various international junior tournaments. He has also been highly involved with the American Hockey Coaches Association, including serving as the association’s president (2002-03).
McNiff, a 1998 Merrimack alumnus and former student-athlete on the men’s ice hockey team, will serve as the volunteer goaltending coach for the program. He returns to campus after a one-year run in a similar role at Bentley University, where he served as volunteer goaltending coach. He spent five years on the staff at Providence College as the goaltending/volunteer assistant coach prior to his arrival in Waltham, and he was on the staff during the Friars’ run to the 2015 NCAA championship.
“Jim [McNiff] has a tremendous amount of success on his resume of working with goalies,” Borek said. “He was instrumental in the development of [former Hockey East Honorable Mention All-Star] Nick Ellis when we worked together at Providence one year. He is a great communicator, and I know he will bring our goalies to a new level.”
The list of goalies McNiff has worked with that currently play in the NHL includes Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils, Scott Darling of the Carolina Hurricanes and Mike Condon of the Ottawa Senators.