Head Coach Mark Dennehy
Dennehy has completely rebuilt the Merrimack Hockey program and saw his squad reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998, set a Division I school record with 25 wins and reach the Hockey East Championship for the first time ever in 2010-11.
Ranking second in Hockey East in goals, goals against and power play, Merrimack defeated every Hockey East team for the second straight season and second time ever and was ranked nationally for the final 17 weeks of the season, reaching #4 nationally in February. The Warriors appeared on television six times, including the Hockey East Championship against Boston College and the NCAA Tournament against Notre Dame.
Dennehy was rewarded with contract extensions in December of 2010 and July of 2011 and will remain behind the Merrimack bench through the 2018-19 season.
"This contract extension underscores Merrimack's commitment to Mark and his leadership. Mark led his team to national prominence with a culture of integrity and principle. He embodies the values of the College and serves as a role model for all students," said Christopher E. Hopey, President. "I am pleased to have Mark continue as head coach and remain an integral part of the Merrimack community."
Under Dennehy's guidance, the crowds returned to a renovated Lawler Arena, as Merrimack sold out 10 of its 16 home games, while posting a 13-2-1 home record, the best in Hockey East for the second straight season.
In Dennehy's six years at Merrimack, the Warriors have earned more Hockey East All-Academic Scholar Athletes of the Year than any other Hockey East school and have recorded a 3.0 GPA or better in three straight seasons.
The 2009-10 Co-Hockey East Coach of the Year, Dennehy saw the fruits of his labors become a reality as the Warriors won a then-Division I program record 16 games and qualified for the Hockey East Tournament for the first time since Hockey East expanded to ten schools. Merrimack surprised everyone and finished sixth, won a playoff game for the first time since 1998 and defeated every Hockey East team at home and overall for the first time in the program's history.
Dennehy and his staff's recruiting efforts have proved critical in the rebuilding process.
Before signing a NHL contract with Ottawa, Stephane Da Costa was named the NCAA and Hockey East Rookie of the Year in 2009-10 and was named an All-American in 2010-11. Freshman Mike Collins led Hockey East in goals and points among rookies in 2010-11, while Joe Cannata, the first-ever Merrimack player to come from the U.S. Under-18 Development Program, has become the all-time winningest goaltender in Merrimack's Division I history.
Seven players, including captains Karl Stollery and Ryan Flanigan, participated in NHL Development Camps over the summer of 2011.
With each incoming class bringing increased talent to the program, Cannata and Kyle Bigos became the first Merrimack players to be drafted since 2002.
Off of the ice, the Merrimack Hockey program continues to set a torrid pace academically.
Ten Warriors were named to the Hockey East All-Academic team in 2010-11, while the program as a whole was named a finalist for the top GPA among all Merrimack male programs. Andrew Braithwaite was named the Hockey East Top Scholar Athlete in 2009-10 for the third time in four seasons, while nine of his teammates joined him on the All-Academic team, each earning a 3.0 grade-point-average or better. Since the award's inception 19 years ago in the 1991-92 season, a Merrimack student-athlete has received the honor 10 times, most among all Hockey East schools.
In 2008-09, the Warriors surrendered just 89 goals, setting a school record for the second straight year. Strong recruiting led to the addition of goaltender Cannata, who helped the Warriors post a goals-against-average of under three in conference games for the first time in school history.
After a tough 2006-07 season that saw the Warriors win just three games, Dennehy's squad rebounded in 2007-08, winning its first three games and finishing the season with the fourth best win total in the school's Hockey East history. Highlighted by weekend sweeps at Bemidji State, vs. #16 Maine, and a home-and-home with #14 Providence, the Warriors, who had just one senior and 22 freshmen and sophomores on the roster, caught the eye of the public and even garnered 22 national votes in the USCHO poll following the sweep of Maine on November 19.
Dennehy was named the seventh head hockey coach in Merrimack College history on June 30, 2005. Dennehy came from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he worked with current UMass head coach Don Cahoon from 2000-2005.
While at UMass, Dennehy garnered Hockey East Coach of the Year staff member honors in 2002-03 and was involved in all aspects of coaching the Minutemen, including recruiting, video analysis, fundraising, marketing, and on ice instruction. He was a part of one of the quickest rebuilding processes in the history of college hockey. The UMass team advanced to the finals of the 2003 Hockey East Tournament in just the third season under Cahoon and his staff.
Prior to his position at UMass, Dennehy worked for Cahoon at Princeton from 1994-99. He helped the tigers to three consecutive ECAC 'Final Five' tournaments in Lake Placid. In 1997-98, Dennehy contributed toward Princeton's first ever ECAC championship and only NCAA appearance in the long distinguished history of the program.
From there, he became the head coach at Fairfield University for the 1999-2000 campaign before joining 'Toot' again at UMass.
Dennehy has recruited and/or coached two All-American players, two Hockey Humanitarian Award Finalists, four all-rookie team members, and five all-league selections. Six of his former players have signed NHL contracts. Jeff Halpern, the most prominent, served as the captain of the Washington Capitals during the 2005-06 season. He has also played for the U.S. National Team in the World Cup of Hockey, Olympics, and World Championships. He also recruited goaltender Jon Quick who was a member of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Silver Medal team.
More recently, Dennehy created, founded, and directed the U.S. College Hockey Advancement Camp. The first of its kind in the east, the USCHA attracts prospects and their families from all over North America. This prospect camp is fully staffed with college hockey coaches. The schedule includes practices, seminars, and games each day. The seminars include topics such as the NCAA Clearinghouse, Strength & Conditioning, and a panel discussion between the prospects, their parents, and college coaches.
A member of the American Hockey Coaches Association since 1994, Dennehy was named to the AHCA Board of Governors in 2006. He has also volunteered for both Massachusetts Hockey and USA Hockey.
A native of Dorchester, MA, Dennehy helped Boston College win three Hockey East regular season titles, played on the 1989-90 Hockey East Championship team and was a part of three NCAA qualifying teams, including the 1990 team which advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
He then went on to play a season in Britain's elite league for the Ayr Raiders in 1991-92. Dennehy parlayed that into a tryout with the Fort Wayne Comets in the IHL before trading in his skates for a whistle.
Dennehy resides in Andover with his wife Heather and three daughters – Kelsey, Kielan, and Caroline.