Merrimack's winning streak snapped at UConn
HARTFORD — In the third period, the Merrimack men’s hockey team simply ran out of gas. After taking a one-goal lead, the UConn Huskies scored three times in less than two minutes en route to a 3-2 win over the Warriors on Tuesday night at the XL Center.
This game was originally set to be played on Dec. 4, but that game was part of a weekend series that was wiped out when the Huskies had COVID protocol issues within its program. The game originally scheduled for Dec. 3 at Merrimack will be made up next month on February 8.
UConn’s win snapped Merrimack’s five-game winning streak, which included hellacious sweeps over Providence and UMass Lowell the last two weekends.
"I thought we were kind of out of gas when the game started," Merrimack head coach Scott Borek said. "We had five games in eight days. And with this one included, that's three of them on the road. It is challenging, especially with the teams we played. They're [UConn] an excellent hockey team and they found a way to win the hockey game. I wish our guys would have had a better chance to maybe play it a little more fresh, but it is what it is, that's on the league, and we'll just move on."
After falling behind 3-1, Steven Jandric scored his fourth goal of the year at the 12:05 mark of the third period to record his 100th career point. Liam Walsh stayed out after being named Hockey East Player of the Week and scored on the power play earlier in the third period.
“I liked our start, we just couldn’t break through,” Borek said. “They blocked a ton of shots. They got in front of pucks and worked really hard for that, so I give them credit. They played goaltender with all six players. They sacrificed and did what they had to do.”
In the final two minutes of the game, UConn’s Chase Bradley was called or cross-checking. Borek took his timeout and the Warriors pulled Hugo Ollas (26 saves) for the extra attacker. Merrimack generated three scoring opportunities with the net empty, including a chance from Walsh in the slot with about eight seconds left.
“We didn’t get the walls covered,” Borek said. “That was a little disappointing. They’re shorthanded and we have our goalie pulled, so they can wrap pucks and get easier releases. They had a couple of opportunities to do that. Once we got the puck back into the zone I thought we had some great looks, including an unbelievable look with about eight seconds left. We had some good looks and if we covered the walls better we might have even have had another look, but I thought we played downhill there and I was happy with the effort.”
The Warriors will now enjoy the rest of what was originally set to be their bye week. Merrimack won’t play again until Feb. 4 at home against New Hampshire.
“All five of these games have been emotional,” Borek said. “I think they've all been one-goal games. So I think our team's tired mentally and physically. … I just think we need a mental break. I would have loved to come out of that Lowell series and had that opportunity, as it turned out we didn't have it, but now we're going to take it.”
GAME NOTES: With the goal, Liam Walsh is now on a five-game point streak and has four goals and three assists during that span. … Filip Forsmark has five assists in his last four games. …
UP NEXT: Merrimack will have this upcoming weekend off and will host UNH on Feb. 4 at Lawler Arena. UConn will play in the Connecticut Ice Tournament this weekend, which begins on Saturday with a first-round matchup against Yale.
UConn 3, Merrimack 2 at XL Center Merrimack (12-11-1): 0-0-2--2 Connecticut (11-10-0): 0-0-3--3 First Period: None. Second Periodd: None. Third Period: 1. MC Liam Walsh 6 (Ivsn Zivlak), ev, 1:07; 2. UC Jachym Kondelik 7 (Vladislav Firstov, Kevin O'Neil), pp, 2:29; 3. UC Regan Kimal 2 (Chase Bradley, Ryan Tverberg), ev, 3:12; 4. UC Jonny Evans 4 (Jake Veilloux), ev, 4:14; 5. MC Steven Jandric 4 (Max Newton, Alex Jefferies), pp 12:05. Shots: Merrimac 5-7-8--20; UConn 8-13-8--29 Saves: MC Ollas 26/29; UC Hanson 18/20 Power Play: Merrimack 1 for 4 ; UConn 1 for 2 Penalties: Merrimack 2-4; UConn 4-8 Attendance: 2,429
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