James Corcoran always knew he wanted to play college hockey, and he always knew he wanted to play college hockey at Merrimack.
Corcoran committed to the Warriors last spring — in between head coaches — following in the footsteps of family members who called Merrimack home.
The 6-foot-4 former Boston Globe All-Scholastic and Boston Herald Dream Teamer missed all of last season with a knee injury but came back this spring and took part in development camp with the Boston Bruins for the second time in 2019.
In 2017-18 at Winchedon Prep, Corcoran posted a 2.53 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. He rose to prominence in 2017 as a senior at Walpole High School, where he posted an eye-popping 14 shutouts, setting a state record, finishing the year with a 0.46 goals-against average and a .970 save percentage; as a junior he posted a 0.83 GAA and a .948 save percentage.
Corcoran was named MVP of the Bay State Games as a junior and senior and was named All-USA by USA Today in 2017.
Name: James Corcoran
DOB (Age): 2/23/1998 (21 years)
Hometown: Walpole, Mass.
Last Team: Winchendon (NEPSAC)
Major: Business Administration
TMR: You’re in a unique situation. I can’t remember the last time someone committed to a program between head coaches. What was that decision like and what made Merrimack the place for you?
Corcoran: “I had a few siblings come here and I always really loved Merrimack. When I got the offer, it was pretty much the only place I wanted to go, so it was an easy choice. It was a little weird how it all worked out but I’m here and I’m really happy about it.”
TMR: How would you describe your style?
Corcoran: “I try to use my size well but also still be athletic. I want to have good movements and I work on my reaction time a lot. Size is definitely a big thing for me. I can take up a lot of the net if I am good on my angles.”
TMR: What happened last year and how difficult was it missing a year?
Corcoran: “I tore my ACL last August, just before the season started. Last year was just a lot of rehab for me. It was about a seven-and-a-half month recovery time with the surgery and all that stuff. It’s a long process and it took almost seven months before I started to feel normal again.”
TMR: This summer at Bruins development camp … was that the first time you were really back on skates?
Corcoran: “In a competitive situation it was. I had been skating before that, but not in a competitive situation. I think I started skating for about a month before the camp started. Having the opportunity to go to that camp really kicked me back into high gear. It all lined up really well because it was about a week before I came (to Merrimack). It got me kick-started and I got to work with some great guys and great coaches. I could pick the brains of the other goalies in camp and see what they did, especially the guys who have college experience.”
TMR: What were some of the biggest things you picked up being around the Bruins?
Corcoran: “Just how to handle yourself. It’s a job and most of the time, whether you’re on the ice or in the locker room, lots of people are around and they’re watching you. You need to handle yourself the right way and be a professional. They really hammered that point with all of us. The other thing was nutrition. Everyone knows to eat healthily but they had a lot of good information on nutrition and how to make sure your body is ready to compete night in and night out over a long season.”
TMR: You were in camp with them in 2017 as well, so how did this second invite come along? Especially after not playing last year.
Corcoran: “(Bruins goalie coach Bob Essensa) would keep up on me. He would check in and see how my recovery was going. Then about a week before the camp he called me and asked how much I had been on the ice. I told him I had been on the ice a good amount and felt fine and then he asked, ‘what are you doing next week?’ and it went from there.
“It was really awesome, especially being someone who grew up around here to go to a camp with that team.”
TMR: This is also a unique situation coming to Merrimack with three freshmen goalies. It’s as true of open competition as there has probably ever been.
Corcoran: “We’re all pushing each other. Right from the start we’ve talked about trying to get better every day and we’re all competing for that spot and for time. We’ll see what happens with the first game but we’ll continue pushing each other all season. Everyone is putting their best in right now, so it’s been a lot of fun.”