|Title:||Associate AD/Head Hockey Coach|
The 2009-10 and 2010-11 All-New England Coach of the Year, Mark Dennehy enters his eighth season behind the bench for the Merrimack College hockey team.
Dennehy has completely rebuilt the Merrimack Hockey program that in the past two seasons has established new benchmarks while ascending into the status of a perennial contender both in Hockey East and in the country.
In 2011-12, Dennehy propelled the program to its first No. 1 national ranking in school history thanks to a 9-0-1 start to the year and its second straight and second-ever winning season in Hockey East. Merrimack was also ranked nationally every week for the first time ever, including an appearance in the top 10 for 17 straight weeks, and narrowly missed a second consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The highlight of Dennehy's coaching career with the Warriors came in 2010-11, when Merrimack reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 while setting a Division I school record with 25 wins and reaching the Hockey East Championship for the first time ever.
That season, Merrimack defeated every Hockey East team for the second straight year and was ranked nationally for the final 17 weeks of the season, reaching a season-high No. 4 national ranking in February. The Warriors appeared on television six times, including the Hockey East Championship against Boston College and nationally in 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 President Christopher E. Hopey at the time of the signing. "I am pleased to have Mark continue as head coach and remain an integral part of the Merrimack community."
Dennehy volunteered to take a more active administrative role in 2012 and was named Associate Athletic Director in August and will spearhead the department's management of the renovated and expanded Volpe Athletic Center.
Under Dennehy's guidance, the crowds have returned to a renovated Lawler Arena over the last two seasons, as Merrimack has established itself as arguably the top home-ice team in all of Hockey East in recent years. Since 2009-10, the Warriors have posted a record of 35-10-5 within the friendly confines of Lawler Arena, fueled by a school-record 15 sellouts in 17 games in 2011-12.
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 10 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 an 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, completed his illustrious career as the school leader in wins (59), saves (3,152), goals-against average (2.47), save percentage (.915), games (122) and minutes (7,146).
With each incoming class bringing increased talent to the program, Cannata and Kyle Bigos became the first Merrimack players to be drafted since 2002.
Ten Warriors were named to the Hockey East All-Academic team in 2010-11, with a league-leading 14 players selected in 2011-12, marking the first time that Merrimack led the league in all-academic selections. Ryan Flanigan earned a spot on the Academic All-America squad, while the team as a whole was named a finalist for the top GPA among all Merrimack male programs.
Merrimack has impressed in the classroom as well as on the rink. In Dennehy's seven previous seasons behind the bench, his teams have earned more Hockey East All-Academic Scholar Athletes of the Year than any other school and have recorded a 3.0 GPA or better in four straight seasons. Since the award's inception 21 years ago in the 1991-92 season, a Merrimack student-athlete has received the honor 11 times, most among all Hockey East schools.
In 2008-09, the Warriors surrendered just 89 goals, setting a then-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 at the time.
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 at the time. Highlighted by weekend sweeps at Bemidji State, versus No. 16 Maine, and a home-and-home with 14th-ranked 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 a sweep of Maine in November.
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 former UMass head coach Don Cahoon from 2000-2005.
While at UMass, Dennehy was a part of an award-winning coaching staff in the 2002-03 season under Cahoon's tutelage 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 and 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 or coached two All-American players, two Hockey Humanitarian Award Finalists, four all-rookie team members, and seven all-league selections. Seven of his former players have signed NHL contracts, the most recent being Canata with the Vancouver Canucks. Jeff Halpern, the most prominent, served as the captain of the Washington Capitals during the 2005-06 season, while Da Costa made his NHL debut with the Senators during the 2011-12 campaign and played in 22 games.
Dennehy has also played for the U.S. National Team in the World Cup of Hockey, Olympics, and World Championships. While at UMass, he also recruited goaltender Jon Quick who was a member of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Silver Medal team and, most recently, led the Los Angeles Kings to their first-ever Stanley Cup Championship while being named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
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, Mass., Dennehy helped Boston College win three Hockey East regular season titles and played on the 1989-90 Hockey East Championship team and was a part of three NCAA qualifying teams, including the 1990 team that advanced to the 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.