UConn takes a 2-0 lead on Merrimack after a fantastic second period. The Huskies outshot the Warriors 15-7 and completely dictated the play. Jesse Schwartz opened the scoring after blocking a pass and getting into the high slot to bury a hard wrist shot. Schwartz got credit for the assist on the second goal. His shot deflected away from goal to the stick of Jeff Wight, who had a wide-open net in which to pass the puck for his first career goal.
UConn and Merrimack are scoreless after one period. Playing in front of Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, the Huskies got off to a solid start, carrying possession well and creating a couple chances. Merrimack tilted the ice in the middle stages of the period, taking an 8-2 shot advantage. UConn got back into it as the period wound down, getting four great goalscoring chances. The Warriors have a 12-6 shot advantage after one period.
After an incredible sweep against UMass Lowell last weekend, UConn will face Merrimack Friday night in its final game before the winter break.
The Huskies' sweep over the River Hawks ended an eight-game losing streak that endured through November.
UConn's sweep earned two players Hockey East honors this week. Goaltender Rob Nichols was named the Defensive Player of the Week, while age Thompson was tabbed as the Rookie of the Week.
Merrimack enters the game ranked 19th in the latest USCHO.com poll. The Warriors dropped from 16th after being swept by No. 1 Providence. UConn is 3-3 against ranked opponents this season. The Huskies defeated both UMass Lowell and Boston University at the XL Center.
- Game Time: 7:05 p.m.
- Location: XL Center, Hartford
- Radio: WHUS, 91.7 FM
- Video: UConnHuskies.com
- Live Stats: UConnHuskies.com
Get to Know Merrimack
- Record: 6-4-4, 2-3-4 Hockey East
- Against UConn: Merrimack leads all-time series 24-3-1
- 2014-15 vs. UConn: Oct. 18, 2014 (at Merrimack): Merrimack 2, UConn 1 (OT); Oct. 31, 2014 (Liberty Invitational, Opening Round): UConn 2, Merrimack 2 (UConn wins shootout 2-0); Feb. 10, 2015 (at UConn): UConn 1, Merrimack 0
- Last Time Out: Lost 4-0 at No. 1 Providence — Merrimack played the national champions tough the night before at Lawlor Rink, but the weekend home-and-home series ended with a dominating performance by the Friars.
- Best Result: Won 4-3 vs. No. 8 Boston University — Days after UConn knocked off the Terriers at the XL Center, Merrimack took care of them at Lawlor Rink.
- Player to Watch: Hampus Gustafsson — The junior from Sweden is tied for the team lead with 10 points. If his name sounds familiar to UConn fans, he ruined the Huskies' first ever Hockey East game. Gustafson scored the winning goal in overtime against the Huskies at Lawlor Rink after Merrimack tied the game in the final minute of regulation.
- Best Moment of 2015: On Jan. 2, the Warriors went to Mariucci Arena and knocked off No. 8 Minnesota in the first game of the Mariucci Classic, topping the Gophers 3-2.
- Connecticut Connection: Matt LaMalfa — The Warriors' director of hockey operations is a native of Portland, Connecticut.
In the final game before the winter break, the Huskies have a chance at a third-straight win. Playing at home against a tough opponent is kind of UConn's thing.
- UConn 2, Merrimack 1