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Mark Dennehy, Merrimack Head Coach

Opening thoughts …

“First I’d like to thank Coach Powers and Arizona State for playing three in a row. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. It was the only way we could get the game and I want to thank them for playing it, and I also want to welcome them to Division 1 college hockey, I think it’s awesome for college hockey that they are a part of what we’re doing.

“We’ve been struggling, and I thought our guys came out ready to play. I also thought that we had some puck luck tonight and batted at least three pucks in. Those are pucks we could have used at other stages of our season, but it just so happened to be tonight. I thought for the most part we stuck with what we needed to do and got the job done.”

Is it hard to evaluate a game like that when you have so much going your way?

“No, because before the game we talked about Arizona State, and what we thought they would do, but what we said was that it wasn’t about who we were playing, we needed to get better tonight. We need to start making some deposits. It was about us playing well.

“There were parts of our game that I thought we did a good job with, and then there were parts we didn’t do a good job of. I wanted to roll four lines consistently but we ended up sitting some lines for different periods because they got away from what we need to do. We need to be a lot more disciplined in our game.”

What were your thoughts on Derek Petti and how he looked tonight?

“To be honest, I’m surprised it has taken this long because he’s looked so good in practice. He might score more goals in practice than any player on our team. That’s why he keeps getting in the lineup because he does some special things … things that are tough to teach.

“I think he had five points tonight. We’re happy he’s a part of this program. He’s a great story, if you think about it. He’s a public school kid, and whoever heard of the Middlesex Black Bears? I’ll be honest, I didn’t until I got the video. But he can’t be satisfied. He knows he needs to keep working to be better but he’s a super kid.

“College hockey is hard. He’s a freshman and right now we have some young guys who we are looking to for probably more than they are ready for. We think that when they get ready they can really help our program and he is one of those guys.”

What do you think this does from a confidence standpoint? It’s been a little while since you’ve had a win, so just to get that winning feeling back?

“Not to be silly, but what do they say in Bull Durham? Winning is better than losing? But we can’t get too high with the highs and we definitely can’t get too low with the lows. So what does it do for us? I heard more chatter in our locker room after the first period, up 5-0, than I’ve heard in the last two months. That’s great. You’re up 5-0 and you’re chirping. But what I’m looking for is what happens when it’s a tight game? Or we’re down a goal? Or we need to kill a penalty? That’s when I’m looking for that positive energy. When you’re up 5-0 you don’t need positive energy. Right? It’s already there. So we need to learn from that.”

Can you talk about Chris LeBlanc getting rewarded tonight?

“We got on Chris a little bit. He basically missed an entire season hurting his knee the first year. Even though he came back halfway through last year that injury takes a long time to recover.

“I’ll be honest, we’ve been very hard on him earlier in the year. He needs to play like he’s 6-foot-3 and not 5-foot-10 and he’s started to do that. It’s amazing, you put guys on Mike Babcock’s line and they play harder. He and Babs, since they’ve been together, he plays hard. I’m glad he gets rewarded, because now he sees if he works hard and plays hard, he gets rewarded.”

Derek Petti, Merrimack Frosh. Forward

How much do you think this win could help moving forward?

“It’s a great team win. It’s going to help a lot. No matter who our opponent is we wanted to come in and play as a unit. We were ready to play off the get-go.”

What’s the feeling getting your first goal? You’ve been working so hard to get that, and then to finally see that pop in?

“It’s unbelievable. You dream about moments like that. Just for it to finally happen is amazing.”

Has it taken a little longer than you wanted it to?

“Yeah, but I wasn’t worried about it. I just tried to keep playing my game and play hard.”

Being close to home, I imagine you had some family here today?
“Yup, my mom, dad, some aunts and cousins, so it was good. A good crowd. Great timing.”

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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