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Sports

July 2, 2011

Merrimack's Dennehy signs extension through 2019

If this were a decade ago, you might have well kissed him goodbye.

Mark Dennehy has turned Merrimack's hockey program from a cellar dweller into a contender for a Hockey East championship.

Quite the impressive feat.

Which is why when three Hockey East schools had head coaching vacancies this offseason, Dennehy's name was often in the conversation.

After all, Merrimack is by far Hockey East's smallest school. Its resources don't compare to the state schools' or larger private institutions' like Boston University or Boston College.

A decade ago, Dennehy would have been a goner.

Not anymore.

Merrimack used to be a stepping stone. Now, it's becoming a destination.

On the heels of the best season the Warriors have had since moving up to Division 1 in the mid-'80s, the college has extended Dennehy's contract through the 2018-19 season.

Merrimack upped the ante, offering a long-term extension to keep the 2009-10 season Hockey East co-Coach of the Year with the Warriors.

"It was vitally important to keep momentum going in the right direction," said director of athletics Glenn Hofmann. "What Mark has done with our hockey program is outstanding. Merrimack hockey has been built to a point where we are competing for Hockey East championships and making the NCAA tournament.

"We're not going to take a step backwards. We're moving forward and committing to Mark is a big part of the vision we have for the college, athletically speaking."

Dennehy signed an extension through 2016 before this past season.

But in an offseason where there has been so much movement in the coaching ranks, including a high-paying job being filled at new Division 1 program Penn State, it's a good sign to see Merrimack lock him up to an even longer term.

According to sources, the three Hockey East schools with openings — Northeastern, Providence and UMass Lowell — sought out Dennehy.

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