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UConn Men’s Hockey loses to Merrimack in Overtime, 3-2

The Huskies gave up two goals late to drop their third straight game.

Merrimack celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime vs UConn.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey held a 2-1 lead with less than two minutes to play, but Merrimack grabbed a late equalizer and then scored in overtime to take a 3-2 victory on Friday at the XL Center. It was the first game between UConn and Merrimack that didn’t end in a tie since 2014-15.

“That’s a very frustrating loss,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “We didn’t [play on our toes] for the last eight minutes and it cost us two points.”

Benjamin Freeman and Maxim Letunov scored for the Husky goals while goaltender Adam Huska made 24 saves.

The Huskies and Warriors, as they have done multiple times throughout the years, played a tight game in the first period. Shots on goal were 10-9 in favor of UConn, despite attempts being 20-to-15 in favor of the road team.

“That was a point of emphasis,” Cavanaugh said. “We need to get more pucks to the net and we did until the third period.”

The Huskies built momentum in the second period after killing a penalty, scoring when they went on the power play for themselves a few minutes later.

On an excellent stretch pass by Johnny Austin, Freeman found himself behind the flat-footed Merrimack defense. He had free reign of the slot and one move later, UConn broke its scoreless streak at 153:22 and took a 1-0 lead just shy of the midway point of the contest. The Huskies outshot Merrimack 12-6 in the second period.

Unfortunately, Merrimack tied it up early in the third. Marc Biega had the puck at the point and, with lots of screening, Huska lost sight of the puck. Biega skated through the slot and shot it into an open net at 2:52 to make it 1-1.

Merrimack was the better team throughout the third period, but the Huskies were still able to grab the lead when Maxim Letunov scored on a wraparound to make it 2-1.

Throughout the remainder of the period, the Warriors pushed hard, outshooting UConn 10-to-5 and dominating possession and zone time.

“We played with poise, which is tough to do down a goal,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said.

After pulling their goalie, the Warriors’ onslaught only got stronger. With about 90 seconds left, the visitors had the puck in close and were bearing down, eventually getting the game-tying goal on the stick of Jace Hennig to force overtime.

Merrimack ended it just 13 seconds into the extra session. On an odd-man rush, Marc Beiga took a shot from the left side. Huska kicked it away, but an unmarked Sami Tavernier corraled the rebound and netted the game-winner.

UConn (8-14-2, 5-9-1) and Merrimack go at it again in North Andover, Massachusetts at 7 p.m. on Friday.