HARTFORD, Conn. - The UConn men's hockey team was held to a season-low 17 shots on Sunday on the way to falling to Merrimack, 3-2, in a Hockey East match-up from the XL Center. The two teams split the weekend series, each winning on road.
The Huskies, 2-3-1 overall and 1-1-0 in Hockey East, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first period but fell behind 3-1 heading into the third on the way to the loss. UConn got their first power play goal of the season but continued to struggle on special teams, finishing 1-for-6 on the night on the power play.
Merrimack, 2-6-0 overall and 1-2-0 in Hockey East, got goals from Liam Walsh, Mac Welsher and one on the power play from Tyler Irvine to provide all the offense. The Warrior defense clamped down on the Huskies and needed freshman goaltender Jere Huhtamaa to make just 15 saves in recording his first collegiate win.
UConn's goals came from sophomores Kale Howarth (Red Deer, Alberta) and Ruslan Iskhakov (Moscow, Russia). Sophomore goaltender Tomas Vomacka (Trutnov, Czech Republic) mad 18 saves in taking the loss.
On their first power play chance of the night, the Huskies notched their first power play goal of the season. Senior Benjamin Freeman (Falmouth, Maine) fed the puck deep down to classmate Alexander Payusov (Montreal, Quebec) behind the net. Payusov made a quick feed to Howarth sitting just inside the left circle who buried a one-timer, bar down, stick side for a 1-0 lead at 9:15.
The Warriors pulled even at 15:03 in the first as Tyler Drevitch made a nifty feed on the right wing to an oncoming Walsh up the middle who beat Vomacka to the short side, just above his glove for his second of the season.
Special teams played a big role int eh second period as Merrimack scored on the power play and also killed off a pair of UConn extra skater chances. The Warriors made it 2-1 just 1:32 into the second period as Welsher carried the puck through the neutral zone and up the right wing, snapping a shot past Vomacka from the right circle, his first collegiate goal.
Merrimack made it 3-1 at 9:01, scoring on the power play. Ben Brar teed up a shot from the point that was blocked in front. Irvine was sitting in the slot, found the loose puck and got a shot thru traffic in front for his third goal on the season.
The Huskies cut the lead to 3-2 at 9:51 as Iskhakov found the back of the net for second time this season. Off a face-off in the Husky zone, freshman Carter Berger (N. Vancouver, British Columbia) played the puck into the neutral zone where sophomore Jachym Kondelik (Budejovice, Czech Republic) won a battle on the boards for the puck. Iskhakov plucked it off the board and beat a pair of Merrimack defenders before rifling a shot pas Huhtamaa to the far post, low and glove side.
The Huskies were able to get Vomacka off the ice after a time-out with 1:22 left to play but Merrimack locked in and did not allow a shot on goal the rest of the way.
The Huskies have a home-and-home Hockey East series on tap with Boston College coming next weekend. UConn will head to BC on Friday, November 8 and host the Eagles on Saturday afternoon, November 9.