NORTH ANDOVER — The only team to beat the Merrimack men’s hockey team over the last five weeks has been Connecticut. The Huskies took the Warriors down at the XL Center in Hartford two weeks ago, and repeated the feat with a 6-2 win over the Warriors on Tuesday night at Lawler Arena.
“We’re disappointed in the result,” said Merrimack head coach Scott Borek. “This was the first game in a long time where I felt that we just didn't defend well and we let them get out ahead of us.”
UConn had a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. The second period was a repeat of the first period, with the Warriors scoring first to tie the game and then the Huskies struck twice in a row to close out the second period with a 4-2 lead.
“In the second period when we actually started to play better, we obviously got some bad bounces that went in our net. The good news is our team's really disappointed because they expected to win the game. The bad news is we didn't win, and we go back to work tomorrow.”
After the second period, Borek opted to pull starter Zachary Borgiel and put in freshman Hugo Ollas. The Huskies scored just 26 seconds into the third period to take a 5-2 lead.
“I thought (the goalie change) might jumpstart our team,” Borek said. “Sometimes you do that and your whole team just starts playing downhill. Give UConn credit, because they didn't give us a lot of space. I think we'll learn a lot from this one and get better because we need to do that.”
This was only Merrimack’s second loss in the last nine games. UConn has been on a similar streak, with last night’s win making six wins in the last seven games for the Huskies.
UConn outshot Merrimack 29-25, including 13-8 in the third period. The Huskies did an outstanding job protecting goaltender Darion Hanson. The Warriors were able to generate 12 shots from in the slot, below the faceoff dots. The Huskies had almost 20 attempts in the same area of the ice.
“We were just stubborn,” Borek said. “They do a good job of packing it in and protecting the net and we talked a lot about getting pucks to the top (of the zone) because that's how you can spread them out a little bit. But we didn't get them there quickly and when we got the puck there, we didn't move quickly. I thought we played slow offensively. It's disappointing that we didn't put more pucks in the net, but we just played slow. We'll fix that and we'll be fine.”
GAME NOTES: Max Newton scored a power-play goal in the first period, which extended the Warriors’ streak to 10 straight games with a power-play goal. That’s the longest streak of consecutive games with at least one power-play goal since Oct. 16-Dec. 5, 2009. The Warriors scored a power-play goal in 12 straight games during that stretch. Merrimack had scored a power-play goal in 10 out of 11 games to begin the 2011-12 season. … UConn’s Roman Kinal was a plus-6 in the game.
NEXT: Merrimack will travel to Vermont on Sunday afternoon for a 1 p.m. puck drop.
Ed. Note - This story will appear in Wednesday’s edition of The Eagle Tribune
UConn 6, Merrimack 2 at Lawler Arena Connecticut (15-11-0): 2-2-2--6 Merrimack (14-12-1): 1-1-0--2 First Period: 1. MC Max Newton 12 (Steven Jandric, Logan Drevitch), pp, 7:32; 2. UC Carter Turnbull 7 (Jonny Evans, Marc Gatcomb), ev, 9:15; 3. UC Jachym Kondelik 10 (Roman Kinal), ev, 11:54. Second Period: 4. MC Ben Brar 9 (Filip Forsmark, Zach Uens), ev, 2:27; 5. UC Ryan Tverberg 12 (Artem Shlaine, Jake Flynn), ev, 3:25; 6. Vladislav Firstov 9 (), ev, 17:16. Third Period: 7. UC Jonny Evans 5 (Carter Turnbull, Jake Flynn), ev, 0:26; 8. UC Chase Bradley 4 (Nick Capone), en, 19:36. Shots: Merrimack 8-9-8--25; UConn 11-5-13--29 Saves: MC Ollas (20:00) 11/12; MC Borgiel (40:00) 12/16; UConn Hanson (60:00) 23/25 Penalties: Merrimack 2-4:00; UConn 1-2:00 Power Play: Merrimack 1 for 4; UConn 0 for 2 Attendance: 1,953 (2,549)