Davis steps away from Merrimack ice hockey

MERRIMACK – Matt Davis currently has the same feeling he did several years ago when he stopped playing college hockey prior to his senior season at Worcester State.

There was a void, and, as he said, “You kind of change your identity.”

Davis’ identity no longer includes being the head hockey coach at Merrimack High School. For the first time in roughly a decade, he won’t be coaching hockey somewhere while he’s teaching math at the school.

Davis has resigned from the job after three seasons, and in two of them he reached the semifinals while barely missing the Division II tournament this season. In three years he went 35-18-3. Before taking the Merrimack job, he had been an assistant at Goffstown and then Londonderry.

“I thought about it for a while,” Davis said. “I live in Exeter, and to be (coaching) was getting kind of exhausting. I’ve been coaching for 10 years now, and I kind of took myself out of what I had been getting out of teaching.”

Davis said he’s also looking for time to pursue a special Masters degree in math teaching at the University of New Hampshire. Taking a break from coaching will enable him to get his second Masters.

“It usually takes coaches a couple of years to put their imprint on a program,” Merrimack athletic director Eric Sabean, who got the word from Davis about two weeks ago and has since advertised the job on the NHIAA website. “He did a phenomenal job with the kids. We were number one in Division II this year in sportsmanship. He did a great job for us.”

Davis’ most difficult season was this year’s 7-9-1 record as the team was 32 seconds away from getting into the playoffs but ended up ultimately losing in overtime to BelmontGilford in a heartbreaking regular-season finale. It had the Tomahawks on the outside looking in at the postseason for the first time in the last nine years.

“When I look back on it, and think about all the adversity we faced, it was tough,” Davis said. “But the people in Merrimack, we had a close-knit team. That was one of the great things going into it, they let me take over and do what I wanted to do for the program. It was a great three years.”