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Q: Was thinking about making the drive to Orono for the home opener. Is it really that bad? Any good places to eat?
A: In October it shouldn’t be bad at all, in fact, it might be a nice drive on a Friday afternoon. However, I’d give yourself some time to get up there. You don’t want to run the risk of hitting any rush-hour traffic in Portland.
As for grub, your choices are few and far between up there. If you’re staying the night, your hotel may or may not have a decent place. I forget the name of the town, but a few miles south on Route 95 there is a more developed area than Orono that has some chains. As for close to the rink, there is Governor’s, which is about a mile away. Not fine dining by any means, but you’ll be able to get a good greasy burger there. Their grilled chicken sandwich isn’t bad, either.
Q: What’s up with Northeastern losing all these recruits? Is it going to hurt them?
A: Normally, new blood into a program provides some revitalization. That could still be happening at Northeastern, but I think it obviously shows that some of those potential players wanted to go there to play for Cronin. Not all of them have decided on other destinations, so if they get to know the new staff, it’s entirely possible that they still end up with the Huskies. They might just want to keep their options open. It seems to be awfully pronounced with NU – a large volume of players – but things like this tend to happen with coaching changes.
Q: Another MMA question for you. Who is the best fighter in the world?
A: As much as I dislike him, it’s Anderson Silva until proven otherwise. And that otherwise could be – though I doubt it – this Saturday night in Rio.
Q: If Merrimack was playing at Fenway, would you still hate outdoor games?
A: Firstly, I never said I hated outdoor games. I said I hated the FREQUENCY of outdoor games. And secondly, yes, if there continues to be 23 outdoor hockey games every 3 years in North America, I don’t care who is playing, it’s still become a watered-down gimmick.
Q: I read in your bio you have a pug. We might get one but I heard they’re crazy and I want a calm dog. Advice?
A: If you want a calm dog, don’t get a pug. Well, I guess that depends. We’ve had ours since he was an 8-week old puppy and he’s now 3-1/2 and just hasn’t lost that puppy energy. That being said, if you have kids, especially young ones, they’re great. Our almost-two-year-old son tries to jump on his back and ride him around the living room and the dog takes it in stride and has never once barked, yelped or nipped at him.
Q: Who is this year’s breakout star on Merrimack’s team?
A: There are obviously a lot of candidates. With some graduation up front, there will be plenty of opportunity for some forwards who may have been in-and-out of the lineup to get more time, and perhaps more production offensively. But, there are also a lot of new faces coming in, too. If I had to pick one player, I thought Tom McCarthy played excellent when he got time last year, and was more a victim of numbers on the blue line, so with guys like Adam Ross and Fraser Allan graduated, if he gets a more expanded role, I think you’ll see a lot more good things from No. 6.
Q: Will Stephane Da Costa play with Ottawa this year or in AHL in Binghamton? I’m in NY and close to Binghamton so I’d like to see him play.
A: Way too early to tell, and a lot will have to do with what happens in training camp. Cory Clouston, former head coach with the Senators, was let go after last season and from what I hear, that’s a good thing for Da Costa. Clouston and general manager Bryan Murray had some disagreements, which included how much playing time should go to younger players, like Da Costa, down the stretch last season.
Q: What’s your take on the football team at Merrimack? Do you follow them?
A: They’re a good team. I think they were picked No. 3 in the preseason poll for the NE-10. A really good offense is led by James Suozzo (QB). He threw for over 2,600 yards and 17 touchdowns last year and I think ran for another 500 or so yards with 14 touchdowns. Head coach John Perry is an offensive guru, too. They’ll be able to score.
On defense, Shawn Loiseau is a machine. He was second in the country last year with 133 tackles at linebacker and gives quarterbacks nightmares with his pass rush.
They open Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 3) at home against WPI.
If you’re local, you can’t beat the season ticket price of $30 (adults) either.