2/19 Mack’s Mailbag

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To participate in the mailbag, e-mail Mike by clicking here, or send him a note on Twitter byclicking here.

Mike, you wrote about some of the recruits (in the last mailbag) but looking at the numbers, I’m really not too excited about some of them for next year. What makes you so excited and why should I not be worried?

Stop just looking at statistics. They’re incredibly misleading, especially when it comes to recruits. Every league is different and some are more difficult than others. And, an overage player (20) scoring as an overager who didn’t score as a 16-19 year old, also wouldn’t get me too excited. Sometimes guys are late bloomers and sometimes guys are hurt earlier in their careers by injury, but generally the guys who are scoring at a younger age against older kids are the ones you get excited about.

Austin Plevy has been scoring for the past few years. Brett Seney is just 17 and is scoring a lot of points in the OJHL and Matt Foget is only 16, and is doing the same. Pat Kramer is also just 16 and has been arguably the best player in Massachusetts high school hockey this season. It’s never perfect, but look at what players do at younger ages in junior hockey and to me, that is generally a better forecaster for college success.

Look at Stephane Da Costa: he had two solid season as a 17 and 18-year old in the NAHL and USHL before exploding as a 19-year-old for Sioux City, but that scoring was always pretty consistent. If he went from 16pts as an 18-year-old in the USHL to 60 points as an overager, then there would be some concern about whether or not that scoring would translate at the college level, at least in my mind.

What do you think has been Merrimack’s biggest problem this year? I think it’s a mixture of a lot of things. 

It is. Ultimately, the players play, so it comes down to that and recruiting. To me, the issue is really simple: they just don’t have the horses to score goals. They have a lot of great role players who are great in their role, but not enough big-time scorers. That’s reflective in the numbers – they’re scoring under two goals per game – and it’s really the only issue. The defense has been fine most nights and the goaltending, again, most nights has been more than good enough to win games. It comes down to scoring goals, and the Warriors haven’t been able to do that.

At this time last season, Merrimack was fighting it out for first place in the conference. But still, the Warriors ended last season scoring just 2.39 goals per game. That’s not great. In fact, it’s below average. This year that has dipped even more (1.86). In 2011-12 they scored 2.76 and in 2010-11, the benchmark for sure, they scored 3.67.

Goal scoring. Plain and simple. I know that sounds overly simplified, but they need to find more guys who can score goals. I know it’s cliche, but you can’t coach that. Looking at the question above, over the next few years, it seems they have some of those players, especially Plevy, Seney and Foget. I think Hampus Gustafsson and Chris Leblanc are developing into scorers and Brian Christie is as well. They have a good core, but it’s young.

It’s walking a razor blade, really. Because at the same time, you still need those guys who can go out and grind out a shift or kill a penalty. The 2010-11 team isn’t as good without guys like Carter Madsen and Ryan Flanigan, who weren’t really scoring all of the time. And I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, if 3-4 years ago, when some of this team was recruited, there are guys who the coaching staff I’m sure thought would be bigger parts of the offense at this point. They haven’t been, and the result is a team struggling to score goals. Plain and simple.

This might be a dumb question, but I’m a new fan. What does Merrimack need to do to make the playoffs?

Well they have already made the Hockey East playoffs. Everyone makes it. As for the NCAA tournament, they need to win the Hockey East tournament. That’s the only way.

I saw on Twitter that (Tanner) MacMaster is going to Quinnipac now. How does that work? Wasn’t he going to BC and I think he signed (his LOI). I know you’re up on the recruiting stuff. Great site, visit it regularly and love your coverage!

First, thank you. MacMaster did sign a LOI back in November. I don’t know specifics of his situation, but BC would have had to release him of his LOI. My guess – and this is purely speculation on my part – is that it had to do with academics. If he signed his LOI back in November, the school and the player were in agreement. My guess is that come application time, his grades weren’t where they needed to be to get into BC. And, while BC might usually bend over backwards to get a guy in, they just moved a top-NHL pick, Noah Hanafin, up to next season so I don’t think they were overly concerned with trying to get an application passed through admissions.

Do you think MacMaster gets picked in the upcoming draft?

Yes. Probably anywhere from the 3rd-5th round. Talking to a scout the other day, his stock has dipped slightly since the midterm rankings, but he’s still a pick most likely.

Does Merrimack have (Matt) Foget signed to a letter of intent? Saw him play a few weeks ago when I went to a game, was up that way for work, and he’s good. Want to get him inked.

He’s too young to sign a LOI.

Why is Merrimack playing UNH twice at home to end the year?

It doesn’t make much sense to me, honestly. But, it had to do with balancing the schedule with Notre Dame and playing a certain number of teams with home-and-home series and other teams with 2 away/home and then swapping it the next season.

And, does this mean Merrimack will close with four road games next year at UVM and UNH?

Yes. The schedule will just flip. I believe they go on three-year cycles with the schedule. That being said, with UConn coming in, some wrinkles might get thrown in next season.

Do you know what hit Lomberg was suspended for? Is he the one who hit Marotta? Any update on Marotta’s condition?

I don’t. My guess is it was for hitting Dan Kolomatis in the second period on Saturday. He was called for interference on that play. I’m not 100 percent sure he was the player who hit Marotta – I honestly just can’t remember who that was – and I’m not sure of Marotta’s status.

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