The Top 5 Stories of the Decade in Merrimack men’s hockey kicks off a feature that will be rolled out over the next few weeks. We’ll countdown the Top 5 Merrimack Men’s Hockey stories of the decade today and we’ll also be naming an All-Decade team for Merrimack men’s hockey. On top of that, we’re working on the Top 5 Players of the Decade across all sports and we’ll also countdown our Top 5 stories of the decade across all sports.
But without further ado, here are our Top 5 Stories of the Decade in Merrimack men’s hockey.
5. Greg Classen attacked in Germany (2015)
Part of how I tried to rank these stories is how much traffic the stories generated. The story on Greg Classen being attacked while playing in Germany is our most-read story of all-time here at The Mack Report.
Reports say that Classen was with two other teammates as they left a season-ending party for the Lausitzer Foxes, held at Café Europa. He went outside on Königsbrücker Street, in front of the restaurant, to get a taxi while the two teammates paid the bill inside the restaurant.
Classen was attacked from behind and was stabbed in the back, leg and on the side of his head, near his temple, according to reports.
Classen’s two teammates wrestled the attacker off of him, according to reports, but the suspect escaped as they tried to help Classen, who was injured on the ground.
4. Stephane Da Costa signs with the Ottawa Senators (2011)
There’s no debating Da Costa’s impact on the program from 2009-11. However, after the 2010-11 season came to an end, Da Costa was the No. 1 free agent in the NHL and where he was going to sign was one of the biggest stories in the league. There had never been as much NHL attention focused on Merrimack as there was during the week after Notre Dame eliminated the Warriors from the NCAA Tournament that March.
On March 31, 2011, Da Costa signed a deal with the Ottawa Senators and he made his debut later that week. After a couple of years with the organization, he moved to Russia in the KHL.
3. Merrimack receives No. 1 ranking in polls (2011)
Polls … if you’re a longtime reader here, you all know my feelings. I don’t like them. I don’t think they tell us anything. However, being ranked No. 1 is still a big deal, and the Warriors received their first (and only) No. 1 ranking in the nation in November of 2011.
The Warriors were undefeated through November. However, the No. 1 ranking was shortlived (Merrimack lost to Providence almost one week after earning the ranking) and while the hot start and No. 1 ranking was a big story that season, so was the tailspin in the final months, where Merrimack went 9-12-6 in their final 27 games and missed the NCAA Tournament by less than one percentage point in the RPI.
2. Coaching change results in Scott Borek’s hire (2018)
As I wrote above, part of how I tried to rank these stories is how much traffic the stories generated. The story we wrote when Merrimack let Mark Dennehy go at the end of the 2017-18 season had the third-most hits of any story between 2010-19. The story on Scott Borek’s hiring had the second-most hits of any story in the decade.
As far as impact on the program, there’s nothing that can make a bigger impact than a change in head coach. In college hockey, a head-coaching change is like changing the coach and GM all in one swoop. Impacts can be positive or negative, and where this happened only two years ago, judgment is still out. Borek’s first full recruiting class just arrived on campus and many of those players are making big impacts.
1. Merrimack qualifies for the 2011 NCAA Tournament (2011)
Former BU head coach Jack Parker has said it more than once … the 2011 Merrimack men’s hockey team should have won the national championship.
The Warriors were eliminated in heartbreaking overtime fashion by Notre Dame in the opening round of the tournament, and the Warriors were never able to get back to the NCAA Tournament in ensuing seasons. But the run in the spring of 2011 was one of the biggest sports stories in the region, let alone just the college. From Hockey East championship game against Boston College all the way through the NCAA Tournament in Manchester, N.H., Merrimack was the talk of the town and the darlings of Hockey East.