Last week may have been Homecoming Weekend at Merrimack College, but this weekend will serve as a legitimate homecoming for one Warrior.
Merrimack senior captain Jared Kolquist is from Hermantown, Minnesota, which is just a couple of miles from Minnesota Duluth’s campus. Kolquist played four varsity seasons at Hermantown High School and was all-conference as a junior and senior while also being named to Team Minnesota those two seasons.
As as a senior at Hermantown, Kolquist was selected to the Duluth Area All-Star Game and was named All-State by the Associate Press. His 118 career points set a Hermantown High School career record for defensemen.
According to Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy, this weekend’s series at UMD was spark, in essence, to give Kolquist the opportunity to play in front of his friends and family. UMD assistant, Jason Herter, is on the board of College Hockey Inc. with Dennehy and according to UMD radio man Bruce Ciskie, credit Denney with setting up this weekend so Kolquist could have a homecoming.
“We try to setup games against teams who are close to the hometowns of some of our players who aren’t from here,” Dennehy said. “Non-conference games happen for a number of reasons. We’re trying to get games close to where some of our guys are from, but also I usually like the coaching staff, and that plays a big part. The other part is you want to bite off a little more as your program grows. I knew we would have a veteran team this year. Duluth is a really good team and it will be a tough challenge, but our guys are ready for it. They want to play against the best.
“UMD’s coaching staff are three of the best guys in college hockey. They’re super guys and their teams are well coached.”
Kolquist’s former high school teammate, Jared Thomas, is a senior forward at UMD.
Not looking too far ahead, Dennehy also acknowledged that success against teams like UMD and Denver, which is coming up later in the schedule, could help Merrimack’s potential Pairwise hopes at the end of the season.
“We need to win some of these games,” he said. “Opponents like this get us ready for league play, but we need to win these games to get some help in the RPI. Our guys are ready for it.”
Minnesota Duluth will return to Merrimack for a two-game series in the 2019-20 season (the Bulldogs have a conflict next year).