STORRS, CT - Jeff Velleca scored his first collegiate goal and added an assist but the Warriors blew leads of 2-0 and 3-2, losing to Quinnipiac University in overtime 4-3 Monday in the first round of the Toyota UConn Holiday Classic.
Merrimack (4-9-3, 2-7-2) will take on the loser of the UConn/Air Force game at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the consolation game. Quinnipiac plays the winner at 7:15 p.m. in the championship.
Brandon Wong scored the winner in overtime at 1:42, as he one-timed a shot home off a pass from Bryan Leitch, who capitalized on a Warrior turnover behind the net of Andrew Braithwaite.
Merrimack controlled the play for most of the first period and struck first as Joe Cucci took a pass from Francois Ouimet and one-timed it past Bobcat goaltender Bud Fisher for his second of the season at 17:58 of the first. Velleca, who fed the puck to Ouimet off a nice pass from Grant Farrell (Calgary, Alberta), earned the second assist on Cucci's goal, his first collegiate tally.
Skating in his 50th career game, Fraser Allan made it 2-0 as he fired a slapper over Fisher's glove at 4:34 of the second with the teams skating four aside. Chris Barton, who also was appearing in his 50th career game, got the assist on Allan's first of the season along with Bobby Kramer.
The Bobcats cut the lead in half as Eric Lampe took a feed from Greg Holt on a 2-on-1 for his third of the year at 13:00 of the second. Quinnipiac outshot Merrimack 10-5 in the second but Braithwaite came through when called upon, stopping nine second-period shots.
The first 4:04 of the third saw three goals, with the Bobcats getting two of them to tie the game at three. After Yuri Bouharevich tied it on a strange play off the boards that originally appeared to be an icing, Velleca scored his first collegiate goal 38 seconds later as he sniped a shot over the blocker of Fisher to regain the lead for Merrimack. But David Marshall answered right back 37 seconds later converting a breakaway off a Warrior turnover at the blue line to even the score at three.
The score remained tied through the third with both teams trading scoring chances, including two shots from Rob Ricci when he was by himself against two defensemen with two minutes remaining in regulation.
Velleca and Allan each posted a goal and an assist in the loss, as Braithwaite stopped 22 shots and was left helpless on each of Quinnipiac's goals. Merrimack outshot the Bobcats 31-26.