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Men's and Women's hockey kick off season at Media Day
BOSTON — The 2023-24 College Hockey Season is just around the corner. Hockey East hosted its annual Media Day at TD Garden in Boston on Tuesday. Men’s Associate Head Coach Dan Jewel and Women’s Head Coach Erin Hamlen were both on hand to answer questions from media members ahead of the start of the new season.
The Warriors’ Women’s team is set to open up the season next week with a pair of games against Clarkson University. Coach Erin Hamlen, now entering her ninth season in North Andover, is excited to get the season underway.
“We have some great incoming players, some that are freshmen and we are really looking to build off what we have already in the room,” she said.
Hamlen and her staff will return 20 members from the 2022-23 roster, but that doesn’t mean things will be the same when the rubber hits the road, or I guess in this case, you could say the ice.
“One of the things we talked about is we’re gonna leave the past in the past,” she said. “We won a playoff game against BU last season but that is not going to carry us through this year.”
The Warriors finished last season with a record of 9-25-2, 5-20-2 in league play, which saw them end the season at the bottom of the regular season standings. But that didn’t stop them from going on the road and knocking off the No. 7 seed Boston University, 5-4, in overtime at Walter Brown Arena in the postseason, before eventually falling to eventual league champ and Frozen Four participant Northeastern in the quarterfinals of the league tournament to end the year.
Not just on the ice but behind the bench alongside Hamlen, this season, there will be new faces on the coaching staff as Danielle Blanchard and Stephanie Wood were recently named assistant coaches late in August.
“I’ve always been fortunate to have great coaches,” Hamlen said. “Both Danielle and Stephanie bring a high-skill development side with them, both played at high levels and won championships.”
Of the 20 returners for the Warriors this year, Hamlen has named Teghan Inglis captain, with Raice Szott and Alison Reeb serving as assistant captains. In total, that group has 319 games of experience combined between them. Inglis and Reeb are both grad students in their fifth year, while Szott is a senior.
“A lot of leadership is about people following, so if they are out there setting the best example they can then they are doing their job,” said Hamlen.
You can listen to Ian Beauschesne along with Merrimack’s radio broadcast team, Mike Machnik and John Leahy, on a recent episode of Leahy’s podcast breaking down the 2023-24 season. Click here to listen to the episode.
While we still have just over a month before the start of the regular season for the Men’s program, which is set to open on Oct. 13th and 14th out in Tempe, AZ against Arizona State; associate head coach Dan Jewell acknowledged that after the best season in over a decade and the second-best in program history, last season there is a bit of unfinished business.
“We have a bunch of guys that not only are coming back to bet on themselves, but also the school that is really exciting,” Jewell said.
Jewell was representing Merrimack in place of head coach Scott Borek, who had a prior commitment and could not attend.
After a breakout season last year with 41 points — 14 goals, and 27 assists — Alex Jefferies is looking to be one of the many returners leading the way offensively for the Warriors once again. Jewell was very quick to make it a point of just how much Alex has also grown off the ice for the team.
“Alex is an impressive hockey player, but more importantly his growth as a person has been tremendous, and we know that his habits and attention to details on the ice will certainly be there,” Jewell said. “But the growth off the ice, such as his leadership and being a good teammate is something we are going to lean on more and more and we’re really excited about that.”
Much like the team in Black and Gold that plays on Causeway, Merrimack had a terrific tandem in net last season and the dynamic duo of Zachary Borgiel and Hugo Ollas both return.
“We love our goaltending room as a whole,” Jewell said. “But finding that grit, that competitive mindset, and having that chip on your shoulder, understanding that in a lot of ways we’ll always be that program gets disrespected. We need to wake up everyday with that in mind.”
The Warriors will welcome in a handful of new faces, some of whom include transfers Chase Stevenson (UNH), Mark Gallant (Dartmouth), and Michael Citara (Providence). Coming to a new program doesn’t mean that expectations are any different for them compared to those who wore the Merrimack crest on their jersey last season.
“Our expectations for them are high just like any other player,” Jewell said. “They’re even more elevated because they’re experienced, but each guy has an approach to the game that’s going to fit in well with our team.”
The road trip to begin the year will be an exciting one. The Warriors and Sun Devils have only faced off once before back in Jan. of 2016, which saw Merrimack defeat ASU 10-0 in the first season of D1 hockey in Tempe.
“It’s always nice to have an early season road trip, and our longest one of the year at that,” Jewell said. “There’s a lot going on right now with our group as far as leadership and chemistry, but that will certainly be a big part to the start of our season for sure.”
The Warriors will return home after the trip to Arizona and welcome in Clarkson and St. Lawrence to kick off the portion of their schedule on Oct. 20 and Oct. 22 before a seven-game stretch of Hockey East games.
Ian Beauchesne is a TMR contributor covering many sports. He also serves as Merrimack’s PA announcer. You can find him on Twitter/X @IanBeau.
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