3/9 Mack’s Mailbag

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Is Merrimack playing in that tournament in New Jersey next season? Where the Devils play?

Yes. It’s the Liberty Hockey Invitational. I’m not sure of the dates or the other three teams, but I believe it’s two Hockey East – Merrimack included – and two ECAC schools.

Is it Ras’ [Tirronen] job to lose next year or do you think this [Colin] Delia kid comes in and challenges for playing time?

I think Delia challenges. That’s not a knock on Tirronen, but I think Delia is good enough to challenge Tirronen for playing time. Over the years, Merrimack has almost always had the two goalies who challenge each other. When Joe Cannata was the starter, he was “the man,” but that’s been rare at Merrimack. Even when Cannata first joined the team, he split time with Andrew Braithwaite. Then the last two seasons, of course, they had Rasmus Tirronen and Sam Marotta.

I notice in your recruit updates Alex Carle has only played in six games this year? You seemed high on him when he was recruited, but how can a guy who can barely crack the USHL lineup make an impact here?

He’s been hurt almost this entire season. In fact, I believe he recently had surgery. He’s a very good defenseman but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take an extra year of junior hockey, where he missed almost this entire season with an injury.

I saw you at the Super 8 [on Wednesday]. Who do you think is the best uncommitted player in the tournament?

Ryan Shea, a defenseman from B.C. High.

What do you honestly think of the new Hockey East playoff format?

There’s one change I think that they have to make: make the first round best-of-3 series, just like the quarterfinals. That’s how every other league that has a similar format does it. I’m not a fan of everyone making the tournament, but I do get the motivation. It’s not “so everyone gets a chance,” or whatever people were saying this week. The sole reason the league did this was to give No. 5 a better chance at making the NCAA tournament. This year with 11 teams, it was odd, but next year, the fifth-ranked team will host a playoff series, and you’re guessing they should add two more wins to their record. Even if it’s against the last-place team in the league, that should help the fifth-ranked team make the NCAA tournament if they’re close. And, that was the No. 1 reason behind making the switch. I also don’t think they wanted four teams to be eliminated in the regular season.

2 Comments

  1. Please, PLEASE, PLEASE – NO NO NO. The first round under the “kindergarten format” of Hockey East playoffs is bad enough. Arguably – a team with only three wins should receive absolutely NO consideration for a post-season bid. But to drag it out – Hockey East teams could end up playing EIGHT playoff games — leading up to the NCAA regionals.

    Too much. And, a fear I had – television will take over, and the kids will be playing “professional hockey” instead of “college student” hockey.

  2. One more thing – a team could end up playing eight games in 16 or 17 days. That’s going to exhaust them. Definitely not cool. Maybe in the NHL or the pro bus & booze leagues, but not college hockey.

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