Men’s Hockey: Huskies play Merrimack in home-and-home series

Junior defenseman Johnny Austin fires a puck during the Huskies 3-1 victory over the University of Vermont at the XL Center in Hartford on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

The UConn men’s hockey team will travel to North Andover, Massachusetts, to take on the Merrimack Warriors at Lawler Rink on Friday night. The Huskies will then host the Warriors the next day in a Saturday matinee at the XL Center. Puck drop is 3:05 p.m. on Saturday.

In the last meeting between the two squads on Feb. 6, 2016, it was a 2-2 draw. Merrimack leads the all-time series between the two squads 24-3-3. That record is comparable to the one between UConn and Vermont, and the Huskies took care of the Catamounts last weekend 3-1.

A big reason behind last weekend’s victory was the penalty killing. The Huskies killed off multiple power plays in big moments against the No. 11 team in the nation. UConn enters the weekend having killed off seven-straight penalties and 15 of the last 16 power plays over the last five games The Huskies are 8-3-1 this season when not allowing a power play goal. The UConn penalty-killing unit is second in the conference and ninth in the nation, killing at an .861 percentage (99-115). 

Sophomore Tage Thompson leads the Huskies in scoring and points with 17 goals and eight assists, totaling a team-high 25 points. His 17 goals are second in the Hockey East and fourth nationally. In 24 games this season, Thompson has posted eight multi-point efforts and six multi-goal games.

Fellow sophomore Maxim Letunov comes in with 24 points on the season, 18 of which have come off assists, which is a team-high. The Moscow native is UConn’s best power-play weapon, leading the Huskies with three goals and 10 assists with the extra man on the ice. The 10 power-play assists are good enough for fourth in the conference and 12th nationally.

Freshman net-minder Adam Huska picked up his sixth win on the season in last Friday’s game and improved to 6-2-2 in Hockey East games. On the season, the Slovakian native has started 15 games with a 2.74 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. He is fourth among Hockey East goalies in save percentage and 17th in the NCAA rankings. 

Looking at Merrimack, the Warriors have just come off of a dominant win over the No. 1 team in the country, the Boston University Terriers. The win completes a series sweep of the Terriers, winning 3-1 at home and 4-1 on the road.

Merrimack is 10-13-3 overall this season. They’ve been impressive at home posting a 7-6-1 record at Lawler Rink. Senior Hampus Gustafsson has a team-high 10 goals on the year. Junior Brett Seney has 20 points (eight goals/12 assists) to lead the team in points.


Connor Donahue is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at connor.f.donahue@uconn.edu. He tweets @conn_donahue