The Mack Report

Mack’s Mailbag for Oct. 29, 2013

Gameday Mailbag Logo

What are your thoughts on Quinn Gould?

He’s on the verge of breaking out. I think you saw it best on Saturday, but he’s all around the net and the puck is finding him. It won’t be long. By the end of the year I wouldn’t be at all shocked to see him with 20-23 points and 10-12 goals.

Regarding the team’s non-conference strategy, does it benefit Merrimack to schedule powerhouse NC teams like Denver (who we’re more likely to lose to) as opposed to playing weaker teams Alabama-Huntsville and Army (better chance for a NC win)? It seems like if MC takes care of business in HEA, which is full of perennial NCAA teams, they ought to get enough quality wins there to just supplement with NC victories over potentially weaker programs. Put another way: Don’t wins over weaker NC teams favor us more than losses over good NC teams? With the extra round of HEA playoffs, I wonder if the need to schedule powerful NC games on the road is still there? Or is it as simple as believing that playing good competition early in the year will prepare the team better for league play?

Winning is always, 100 percent of the time, better than losing. A win over a weaker non-conference opponent is better than a loss to the No. 1 team in the Pairwise. In Hockey East, I agree that you play enough of the upper-echelon teams over the course of the year that scheduling non-conference games you think you can win is a definite advantage. Now, there’s also less of those games since the league schedule has been reduced, but there should still be enough games there that success in Hockey East will mean success nationally.

The other issue of scheduling teams in the upper-echelon is that you’re almost always on the road in those cases. Teams like Minnesota and even Denver will not come to Merrimack. They barely want to travel east as it is. Merrimack has been adopting more of an approach that they won’t travel to teams that won’t return the trip, which is a great idea and I wish more teams did this. Kevin Sneddon at Vermont does the same thing.

But to answer your question, you always want to win. So if you’re putting together a schedule from a competitive standpoint, you want to put as many games on there as possible that you think you can win.

Do you think we’ll see a regular platoon in goal like we did at the beginning of last year, or is it Marrotta’s job to lose at this point? I heard that Tirronnen looked pretty good the other night (didn’t get to see it in person, unfortunately). 

Three weeks ago I would have told you it was Marotta’s job to lose, but the way Tirronen has played, he deserves minutes as well. They have two starting goaltenders, essentially, and I think both will get some minutes here early (like last year) until someone takes the job. There’s also the possibility they rotate for a good portion of the season, although I think you prefer to have one started come February and March.

What do you know about Bentley heading into this weekend?

They’re a good team and can score goals. They’re off to a slow start — 1-5 through six games — but Brett Gensler is one of the most talented scorers in Atlantic Hockey (he has 90 points over the last two seasons) and is just waiting to get hot. Max French, a rookie from the BCHL, is definitely a Rookie of the Year contender in that league and Branden Komm has a .912 save percentage in goal.

Look at some of those loses, too. Bentley lost 4-3 to Quinnipiac, which was in the nation title game last year, and 2-1 to Maine; they haven’t even played a home game yet.