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Groundhog Day: UConn Men’s Hockey Loses Lead in Tie to Merrimack

The Huskies had a lead but couldn’t hold on to it.

UConn goalie Adam Huska makes one of his 17 saves on the afternoon.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn and Merrimack played to a tie for the fourth game in a row and the fifth time in the last six games. The final score was 2-2, just like Friday’s game at Merrimack.

“I thought it was apropos of the weekend,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said after the game.

UConn saw goals from Evan Richardson and Spencer Naas. Goaltender Adam Huska did not have a busy afternoon, tallying 17 saves while facing just nine shots over the first two periods.

“I think it’s a group effort in terms of playing solid defensively and then moving the puck up out of our zone and establishing a forecheck,” Naas said. “I don’t think it was anything we were doing specifically, but I think it was a good group effort.”

The first period was fairly balanced, with no solid chances by either side.

In the second, the Huskies had a pair of power-play chances and scored on one of them. UConn played well in three opportunities with the man-advantage.

“We were 1-for-3, I feel like Evan’s group did a great job moving the puck around,” Cavanaugh said. “We still had some problems with entry, but once we got the puck in the zone I was happy with the way were moving the puck.”

Richardson scored on the power play when he took a pass from Masonius on the left half-boards and, after a couple of nifty moves, found himself with a little space in the low slot. His wrist shot beat Collin Delia to put the Huskies on the board 6:22 into the second period.

“I walked off the wall, Karl [El-Mir] was in front, I don’t know if the goalie saw it or not,” Richardson said. “If Karl’s not there I don’t think that goes in.”

The Huskies doubled their lead 5:28 into the third and appeared to have the game well in hand at 2-0. Corey Ronan took a shot from below the left face-off dot and Naas was screening Delia. He got a stick on the puck to deflect it in.

“[Ronan] made a good play,” Naas said. “I really did the easy part.”

The Warriors had a sense of urgency over the remainder of the game. They simplified their game and started sending pucks to the net. The strategy worked.

“We were trying to make too many cute plays,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “Once we simplified our game it changed the scope.”

Ludvig Larsson got both goals for Merrimack. The first one came on the power play and stood after a lengthy review by the officials to see if there was a Warrior in the crease.

The game-tying goal came with an extra skater and 30 seconds remaining in the contest, similar to the way UConn tied its game last night.

“We talk about [getting shots on net] a lot,” Dennehy said. “It’s three yards and a pile of dust.”

Neither team found a goal despite trading multiple chances and the game would end 2-2.

UConn (10-10-8, 6-6-4) has a quick turnaround as they will play No. 15 Providence at the XL Center on Wednesday evening. Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m.

Photo Gallery credits: Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Mike Cavanaugh, Evan Richardson, Spencer Naas, Mark Dennehy Postgame: