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Preview and How to Watch: UConn Men's Hockey at Merrimack | TV: 7 p.m., Fox Sports College, ESPN3

The Huskies are looking to secure a top-eight finish in Hockey East with seven league games left.

Ian Bethune

Matchup Stats

UConn

Goals per Game: 2.20 (10th in Hockey East)

Goals Against: 3.13 (9th)

Power Play: 21.5% (T-5th with Boston College)

Penalty Kill: 82.4% (4th)

Merrimack

Goals per Game: 1.73 (Last)

Goals Against: 3.27 (10th)

Power Play: 3.8% (Last)

Penalty Kill: 77.5% (11th)

Series

All-time: Merrimack leads, 24-3-2

Last meeting: Tied 3-3 (OT), XL Center, December 15, 2015

Watch/Follow

Video: Fox College Sports and ESPN3

Radio: WHUS 91.7

Live Stats: MerrimackAthletics.com

Preview

The home stretch begins tonight for the Huskies when they travel to Lawler Rink in North Andover, Massachusetts to face off against the Merrimack Warriors. Currently, UConn sits 8th in Hockey East- the final seed for home ice in the playoffs. With a victory tonight, UConn could be as high as 6th going into next weekend.

Mike Cavanaugh and his team come into tonight following a 3-1 win over Brown University Tuesday. The most important takeaway from Tuesday night's game was UConn's effort. Following a dismal performance against Sacred Heart, the Huskies put forth a solid 60 minute effort in the win. However, given UConn's inconsistency it is uncertain if that success will be carried into tonight's game.

Leading the charge down the stretch will be the top line of Max Letunov, Tage Thompson, and Spencer Naas. The line was responsible for the first and last goals of the night versus Brown. The freshmen Letunov and Thompson have established themselves as the go-to players when UConn needs offensive production.

Letunov has a point in 16 of the last 17 games and has scored a goal in five straight. Already, he stands tied for first for goals in a season by a freshman in UConn's Division 1 hockey history and sits second for freshmen in points with 7 games remaining.

Thompson has recorded a point in 12 of the last 15 games and has recently shown his physical strength on the ice. During an Edmonton radio show, Thompson stated he has gained ten pounds since the beginning of the season. The gains are noticeable. Thompson's strength was on display Tuesday as he shielded the puck from Brown players on the way to setting up Naas for the night's opening tally. He also assisted Letunov's empty-netter at the end.

Merrimack comes into the game after a 10-0 demolition of Division 1 newcomer Arizona State. Prior to Sunday's game, the Warriors had lost ten straight and only managed one victory in 17 games. The biggest reason for Merrimack's woes has been their offensive output. Prior to the Sun Devil game, the team had not managed to score more than two goals in a game since December 20th.

During Merrimack's 10-game run of offensive futility, the Warriors have been shut out three times and managed just a single goal twice. During Hockey East play, Merrimack's power play has been dreadful. The Warriors have only scored three power play goals in 53 chances- a brutal 3.8% success rate.

Although the Warriors have been struggling offensively, the team does have a solid group of forwards led by Brian Christie and Brett Seney. Christie leads the team in assists (14) and points (19) while Seney, a sixth round pick of New Jersey, is second on the team in assists (11) and points (17).

Merrimack's starting goalie is Collin Delia. Delia currently has a save percentage of 89.4%, last in Hockey East, and is allowing 2.83 goals per game. As a result of Merrimack's struggles, prior to the win against Arizona State, Delia had not posted a victory since November 13th against UMass.

Tonight's contest will not be easy for UConn. But this evening's contest is possibly UConn's most winnable remaining game. With weekend series versus Providence and Northeastern on the horizon, defeating Merrimack will go a long way in the battle for home ice.


Injuries:

Game Time Decision
Rob Nichols
Jeff Wight


Out
David Drake
Corey Ronan