Mack’s Mailbag: So you’re saying there’s a chance?

Realistically, can Merrimack still qualify for the NCAAs?
Sure. That’s not saying that they Warriors don’t need a lot to happen. According to Jim Dahl at, which is a blog that covers the University of North Dakota, of the million of possibilities still in play, about 0.8% of them result in the Warriors hitting No. 15 or higher in the Pairwise after this weekend (meaning that 0.8% of all of the million-plus possibilities in play – or around 10,000 – wind up with MC 15th). About 9.1% of the possible results would have MC at No. 16 and 64.1% of them would have the Warriors hit No. 17. 26.1% of the possible scenarios have them No. 18 or lower. So while not favorable odds, it can still happen. We’ve seen crazier things occur in just recent years (Vermont a few years ago). There are still thousands of scenarios that can play out which would result in Merrimack qualifying. As I wrote yesterday, the simplest requires Maine to beat Boston University in the Hockey East semis, Cornell to lose twice and Western Michigan to lose in the CCHA semifinals and do no better than a tie in the consolation with Bowling Green, as long as Union wins the ECAC Championship.

If Merrimack’s season is over, do you think anyone signs early and leaves the team before graduating? Also are there any guys who are seniors who you think might sign a pro deal for this year?
Early flight risks are always a possibility, especially as you improve your roster and have a team that’s top-20 in the nation. I don’t believe anything in imminent, but you’d have to consider that Kyle Bigos might be an option for Edmonton, which picked him in the 4th round in 2009. Brendan Ellis was drawing looks from NHL scouts, too. A lot of players get looks throughout the course of the season.

As for seniors, they’re all up for grabs now. Jesse Todd has the offensive pedigree that will make him attractive and Ryan Flanigan has the blend of scorer/agitator that would make him an attractive player as well. Karl Stollery has been Merrimack’s best defenseman for probably four years, and would have signed an NHL contract a year ago if he were 6-foot-1.

You said on Twitter you don’t like hybrid icing? Wow! I’m surprised, it’s better than no-touch
Yes, it’s better than no-touch. But why not just do to touch-up icing? I see the hybrid called incorrectly just about as much as I see it called correctly. Merrimack’s stretch play is built for hybrid or touch-up icing. But I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen players beat a defender to the circle and still get whistled for icing. It’s 50/50 in footraces. If my choices are touch-up or hybrid, give me touch-up. If my choices are hybrid of no-touch, give me hybrid.

What does next year’s schedule look like for non-conference?
Honestly, I’m not sure that’s even been solidified yet. A lot of times, those things don’t really get set in stone until the offseason. There’s too much going on mid-year. Whether or not it’s for next year or not, I’m not positive, but I know there is a return coming from Harvard to Lawler Arena. Colgate might have a return trip as well. There has been a plan for a trip to Colorado and Denver, and again, not sure when that’s planned for. There is also another trip on the schedule Alaska for the early-season tournament in the next few years, might be next year.

What were your thoughts on the fights this weekend? I thought someone should have been suspended.
I expected to have some supplemental discipline after Game 2, and was surprised there wasn’t any. It’s the playoffs, though, and I thought we’d see each team get slapped with one player. The rule on facemasking is pretty clear, if you ask me, and Joey Diamond twice grabbed facemasks of MC players that I would qualify as more than a “facewash” and should have been 5:00 and a game disqualification (automatic 1-game suspension). We saw Brendan Ellis get hit with 5:00, a DQ and suspension earlier this season, and his offense wasn’t nearly as egregious, in my opinion. I didn’t expect them to give either team a suspension without the other, so I expected them to hit Elliott Sheen with the same thing, for either the apparent slash on Dan Sullivan, which started the scrum, or for punching Will O’Neill in the face after they got up from a scrum on the ice.

What were your thoughts on the officiating as a whole this weekend?
It’s a hard thing to control, of course, but inconsistent, I guess I’d say. It seemed to me that there were times that the officials were clearly trying to take control of the game, which I completely understand. Things were getting out of hand and they were trying to keep it under control. Then there were times where, like a flip of a switch, things that were being whistled in one period weren’t being called the next. I think a lot of it falls back on the two-referee system, as well, which is a flawed system, if you ask me. Normally, the amount of penalties that result in power plays get to me — when you see a teams combining for 10-15 power plays in a game, that’s just too much — but that really wasn’t the case this weekend. It was a rough three games, and the number of overall penalties didn’t surprise me and I didn’t have a problem with it, to be honest, as long as one team doesn’t have a large discrepancy in PP time.


  1. How is Stollery not drafted or a more heralded prospect? He’s got to be the most underrated defenseman in the league. Is it a matter of size? (Listed 5’11 185)

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