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VIP Insider Post #112: Full Hockey East projection, notes on Merrimack/NEC

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Exclusively for our VIP supporters, TMR editor Mike McMahon brings you these “insider” posts, where he’ll discuss the news and give some insight and perspective on the stories we’re covering here at The Mack Report as well other insider info from stories around the country …

— If you were a VIP member, which you are, you knew that this move to the NEC and Division I for Merrimack has been on the horizon for a while. It sounds like the NEC Council of Presidents voted at their last meeting to invite Merrimack, and the college was informed sometime last week. I had reached out to the NEC on Friday to see if any info could be shared, but they declined comment.

The NEC was going to vote on Merrimack in the spring, but there weren’t enough presidents at the meeting to have a formal vote, which is why it got delayed. Back in the spring, there was words that NEC football programs were told to begin holding a date for Merrimack in 2019.

I’ve felt for a while that the NEC was a perfect fit for Merrimack. Down the road, maybe they could explore America East or the MAAC, but at this point in time being able to partner with private schools — Central Connecticut is the only public — who for the most part share similar enrollment numbers and endowment is the best way to jump into Division I. I also think that this gives Merrimack the opportunity to compete somewhat quickly, at least in some sports.

— We began posting our Hockey East previews yesterday. Picks will be unveiled one-by-one for readers but for VIP members, I’ll post the 1-11 order right now.

Keep in mind, these are not necessarily my picks. I tried to come up with a projection algorithim to rank teams based on a number of factors, including returning scoring, scoring lost, goalie returning, and then adding in a factor for freshman scoring, using past freshman performance as a way to figure typical “recruit strength.” As I pointed out in my UConn preview yesterday, if freshmen score more than a program’s typical freshmen, or if a goalie out-performs his projected save percentage, teams will climb in the rankings. I also put a variable in there to account for assumed development in returning scorers.

So, when all of that gets plugged into the formula, it spits out these results:

1. Providence (46 points)
2. BU (44 points)
3. BC (44 points)
4. UMass (40 points)
5. Maine (38 points)
6. UMass Lowell (36 points)
7. Northeastern (32 points)
8. Vermont (30 points)
9. New Hampshire (26 points)
10. Merrimack (22 points)
11. Connecticut (22 points)

I’ll get into it when I post the Merrimack preview, but like I said with UConn, there is a lot of upside with the Warriors. Merrimack has a large freshman class, so the projection model expects its scoring to be down. However, it also looks at past freshman success as a way to project future freshman success, so if this freshman class outscores previous freshman classes (and I think it could), that could project Merrimack with more points

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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