Merrimack’s goal of a Frozen Four berth didn’t come to fruition but there’s always another season to look forward to. Coming off this past year of immaculate success, there’s hype for where this program can go. Coach Borek is burning the midnight oil. And with a chunk of Merrimack’s roster being Graduates, there are some holes in the team sheet to fill. So let’s dive into what changes we’re seeing so far. Buckle up because this is a lot to take in.
Before the 2022-23 season, Scott Borek added a majority of Graduate level talent that was key for their success this past season. Those names being forwards Ottoville Leppanen, Will Calverley, Ryan Leibold, Tristan Crozier, and Defenseman Slava Demin. Along with those, Merrimack had Jordan Seyfert and Mick Messner both entering their 5th year as well.
Right now, Merrimack has lost the following players to these teams.
- F Ryan Leibold —> South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL)
- F Will Calverley—> Florida Everblades (ECHL)
- F Tristan Crozier —> Tulsa Oilers (ECHL)
- F Mick Messner —-> Utah Grizzlies (ECHL)
No word officially from Merrimack on Seyfert and Demin. As for Slava, he was a 4th round pick in 2018 to Vegas. At the moment his rights are owned by the Chicago Blackhawks so we should see some news on him getting an Entry Level Contract. All in all, these are key players the program is losing.
Merrimack so far in the portal has filled a few of the holes on the sheet. Scotty got right to work in snagging a few players that could thrive here. Here’s an in depth look at who’s joining us in the fall.
- F Chase Stevenson (5th year)
Stevensons a Graduate forward from UNH who tallied 20 points last year as a captain. His game from the film tells that he can play both the Power Play and PK if needed be. And from the scheme that UNH runs he’s a crease crasher, amazing at redirecting pucks and corralling rebounds to get shots. Along with that he’s a great passer too, especially in transition. Borek played his cards right in getting a guy who could fit right into our system.
- F Mark Gallant (5th year)
Gallant is also a Graduate forward, from Dartmouth. Last year his season wasn’t fun as he was battling injuries and only tallied 2 points in 21 games. The prior year however he had 18 points in 28 games in his junior season. Dartmouth wasn’t anything special as they only won 5 games in 2022-23. So maybe with a change of scenery he should excel with our group.
- F Michael Citara (Soph.)
This player could be something special. Citara was a 4 star recruit from the USHL with 35 points in 51 games as an 18 year old. He notched 104 points in 63 games in AAA the year before that. He’s got skill but it hasn’t exactly showcased at Providence as last season he only played 8 games. It should be noted that he was on special teams a lot when he was in the Friars lineup. Merrimack’s power play was 57th in the nation this past year. Citara, if in the lineup, should help us move up in that category.
According to Mike McMahon of CHN, Merrimack has no one currently heading into the transfer portal trying to leave. MC is actually one of few teams that have no players in the portal. While I’m not an insider, this may change, it may not.
The big names returning for Merrimack that have been announced by the team are as follows.
- F Alex Jefferies, Sr.
- F Ben Brar, Gr.
- F Filip Forsmark, Gr.
- F Robert “Mac” Welsher, Gr.
- D Liam Dennison, Gr
It was extremely important getting all these guys back, especially Brar and Jefferies, the two Hobey Baker nominees from this past year. With Jefferies being your top scorer, and Brar being your captain, it tells you enough of what these guys mean to the team. Both were in the top three points leaders for the team last year. Bringing back Dennison on the blue line is good experience wise for Merrimacks younger guys as well.
Obviously more changes could happen. There’s a lot of time in the offseason for more things to occur so this article is finite as of its post time. Any news that does happen, follow me on twitter @Antonelli7jr or @MikeMcMahonCHN for updates on the Men’s Hockey Team.