The Mack Report

Merrimack hopes to get back to hard work vs. UMass

NORTH ANDOVER — According to Merrimack College head coach Mark Dennehy, it’s no secret what the Warriors have to do to break a recent slump that has seen them go winless in their last five games (0-4-1).

After getting swept at the hands of UMass Lowell last weekend, the Warriors welcome UMass to Lawler Arena tonight and travel to the Mullins Center tomorrow. With just one week to go before the Hockey East tournament, Dennehy hopes his team gets back to their three core principles, the biggest of which is simply “working hard.”

“After looking at the tape, it’s not much different than we thought last weekend,” Dennehy said. “We talk about our three core principals, which is working hard, being physically and mentally tough and not making excuses. For large stretches of the season, we set the standard for hard work, and then we played Lowell last weekend and that standard got raised. We has some guys who measured up but not enough. To a man, they outworked us.”

photo (1)On Tuesday, the Warriors ran battle drills at practice, shortening up the ice and running drills where players had to physically battle for pucks in corners and around the nets (pictured right).

“We scrimmage every day,” Dennehy said, “and we scrimmaged (on Tuesday) and holy smokes. If we had played that way last weekend … But, it’s like trying to lose weight. It’s no secret. You eat less and workout more. But, there’s not a lot of people willing to do it. Lowell was willing to play that hard last weekend and we weren’t.”

Merrimack also hopes to learn some offensive lessons from the first-place River Hawks. Ironically, Lowell’s offensive struggles earlier this season were similar to the funk the Warriors find themselves in now.

“Playing Lowell is like a 60-minute battle drill,” Dennehy said. “But, I think we can also learn a lot from it. (Lowell) struggled a lot earlier this season scoring goals. Look at the five goals they scored without the goalie being pulled and they all have one thing in common, they all had a net-front presence. They either had a guy planted there or a guy skating there with intent. That’s simple hockey, but it’s effective.”

As for the Minutemen, they bring a speedy roster with skill. The Minutemen dropped a 4-2 game to the Warriors at Lawler Arena last month which started a stretch where UMass is just 1-6-1 in their last eight games.

“They play hard,” Dennehy said. “There’s a fine line between a lot of teams in our league and it comes down to effort and willingness to compete. We’ll watch their game tape against UNH from last weekend to make sure we aren’t missing anything but we weren’t missing anything last week against Lowell. Lowell didn’t play any different than we thought they were gong to, they just played harder.”