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UConn Men’s Hockey Dominated by Merrimack in 3-0 Loss

The Huskies managed to hold the Warriors back for 40 minutes but the third period was a disaster.

UConn’s Brian Rigali (19) gets crushed by two Merrimack defenders.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey was shut out for the third time in four games on Friday as Merrimack earned a commanding 3-0 win at Lawler Rink in North Andover, Massachusetts.

“I thought we were outplayed tonight,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “We’re in a funk right now.”

The Huskies mustered just 16 shots on goal, a season low. Goaltender Adam Huska made 35 saves and played absolutely incredibly. He made seven saves on the power play on three chances for the Merrimack unit.

“He was unbelievable,” Cavanaugh said. “Finally they scored one where he couldn’t see it.”

UConn came out flying in the first few minutes, but the Warriors took control quickly and got stronger once they went on the power play.

Facing one of many multiple odd-man rushes on the evening, Huska was down and out after making a save just shy of the midway point. Jace Hennig had a wide open net, but Jesse Schwartz took an interference penalty to help prevent the goal.

The Warriors put three shots on Huska as part of an impressive 15-to-1 advantage in shots on goal for the home team in the first period. The Huskies did not record their first shot on goal until 14:28 into the game.

“They were winning battles and they were outplaying us,” Cavanaugh said.

In the middle period, UConn was at least able to establish zone time, getting seven shots on net, but Merrimack was much better again, putting 15 more shots on Huska, with the sophomore being forced to make big save after big save.

In the final 20 minutes, the Warriors scored a pair of early goals that were two periods in the making.

Merrimack got its third power play and the third time was the charm, as Ludvig Larsson took a feed from Brett Seney and his shot from the right face-off dot beat Huska through a screen and the tie was broken.

“I thought we had some good looks on the first two power plays,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “To get that goal was huge for us.”

Just 47 seconds later, Laine McKay forced a turnover on the left side and Tyler Drevitch had space in the slot. He received the pass and Huska was beaten cleanly to double the Warrior lead.

With 2:32 remaining, Cole McBride iced the win with an empty-net goal on a breakaway.

UConn (8-15-2, 5-10-1) plays No. 11 Providence on Thursday in their next action at XL Center. Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m.