Ed. Note — This story will appear in Saturday’s edition of The Eagle Tribune
NORTH ANDOVER — Craig Pantano made 16 saves for his first career shutout, Merrimack sophomore Tyler Drevitch scored his first career goal and center Ludvig Larsson finished with two points as the Warriors walked away from Lawler Arena with a 3-0 win over Connecticut last night.
Merrimack outshot the Huskies 38-16, including a 15-1 edge in a dominant first period.
“I thought was probably our best all-around effort,” said Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy. “We talked to some guys this week about being more consistent and we didn’t have any lulls tonight. … We had some success and started flipping it around a little bit, but that’s as solid a 60-minute effort as we’ve had.”
Pantano didn’t see much action in the first period but made some big saves in the second period and in the third period he made more key stops late, keeping his pad on the ice as UConn was trying to jam the puck in.
“It can be tough to get in a rhythm,” Pantano said. “The shots I got were good feelers and I just stayed active during the whistles. I think I saw every puck except one, and it hit me, so that’s great. Most of them were from the outside and they were shots I could control. It was a great game. I didn’t have to do much, the team played awesome. It was a good team win.”
After outshooting the Huskies 30-8 through two periods, Ludvig Larsson gave the Warriors the lead on the power play just 1:52 into the third period. Tyler Drevitch gave the Warriors a two-goal cushion 47 seconds later for his first career goal.
“Probably the best feeling I’ve had to date in my hockey career,” Drevitch said. “It felt good. But it felt way better to get the win. We’re prepping for playoffs and trying to get home ice. Our end goal is a championship, so it felt great personally but the win is really what I care about, and the two points.”
Cole McBride added an empty-net goal with just 2:32 left in the game.
“We got on the hunt tonight and well on the forecheck,” Dennehy said. “They made an adjustment and started wrapping the puck by us a little bit. The best defense is offense and by staying in their zone, it creates a cycle of forechecks.”
Merrimack now sits in eighth place, holding a home-ice spot in the Hockey East playoffs. The Warriors are off until next Friday when they host Boston University and Merrimack will travel to Agganis Arena next Saturday.
“We’re focusing on doing little things right,” Pantano said. “It came together for us tonight. Getting the goal helped give us confidence and then it helped that we weren’t giving up a lot of shots.”
Merrimack 3, Connecticut 0 at Lawler Arena (North Andover) Connecticut (8-15-2): 0-0-0—0 Merrimack (7-11-4): 0-0-3—3 1st Period Scoring - None Penalties - Jesse Schwartz, CON (Interference) 9:15 2nd Period Scoring - None Penalties - Johnny Austin, CON (Tripping) 2:32 3rd Period Scoring - 1, MER Ludvig Larsson/7 (Brett Seney/14, Jace Hennig/12) 1:52 (PP) (GW) 2, MER Tyler Drevitch/1 (Laine McKay/3, Alfred Larsson/4) 2:39 3, MER Cole McBride/4 (Derek Petti/5) 17:28 (EN) Penalties - Brian Rigali, CON (Tripping) 1:19; Derek Petti, MER (Tripping) 5:42 UConn Goaltending - Adam Huska (59:29, 37 shots, 35 saves, 2 GA); Empty Net (0:31, 1 GA) Merrimack Goaltending - Craig Pantano (60:00, 16 shots, 16 saves, 0 GA) Win - Craig Pantano, MER (7-6-2). Loss - Adam Huska, CON (8-14-2). Shots On Goal - CON 1-7-8=16; MER 15-15-8=38 Power Plays - CON 0 of 1; MER 1 of 3 Penalties - CON 3 (6 min); MER 1 (2 min) New Records - Merrimack 7-11-4, UConn 8-15-2 Three Stars: 1. Tyler Drevitch (Merrimack) 2. Ludvig Larsson (Merrimack) 3. Craig Pantano (Merrimack) Referees: Tim Benedetto, Tim Low Linesmen: Steven Murray, Marc Sullivan