Men’s Hockey: UConn ties Merrimack 2-2 for second time in 24 hours

Karl El-Mir looks for a pass in Saturday's game against Merrimack. The Huskies tied the Warriors 2-2 at the XL Center. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

“Anybody seen the movie ‘Groundhog Day?’” Merrimack men’s hockey Head Coach Mark Dennehy asked when describing Saturday’s game at UConn. Just as Bill Murray relives the same day over and over in the 1993 film, UConn and Merrimack played a game very similar to their Friday night matchup.

For the second time in less than 24 hours, the Huskies tied the Warriors 2-2. In each game, the equalizing goal was scored by the road team with about 30 seconds remaining, followed by a scoreless overtime period.

UConn (10-10-8, 6-6-4 Hockey East) led 2-0 on Saturday before giving up two goals in the last 10 minutes of the third period. On Friday night, Merrimack (10-13-5, 4-7-5 Hockey East) blew a two-goal lead of their own. The Huskies were also led by the same players in each game. Tage Thompson, Spencer Naas, Evan Richardson and Joseph Masonius all recorded one point in each game.

“It was apropos for the weekend, the way that both teams played, that each team came away with two points,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said.

Quick Turnaround

Friday night’s game ended at 9:30 p.m. in Merrimack, and the teams had to travel an hour and 45 minutes to the XL Center in time for Saturday’s 3:00 p.m. start time.

The game seemed to start slow as the first period ended scoreless with only 11 shots on goal between the two teams. Both Cavanaugh and Dennehy did not think the early puck drop had any negative effects on their respective teams.

“These guys are young and resilient,” Cavanaugh said. “I think if you ask hockey players, they don’t like sitting around all day. They’d just rather get up and play, I don’t think [the quick turnaround] had anything to do with it.”

When playing on consecutive days with a road trip in between, the Huskies are now 1-0-3 in the second game of the back-to-back.

Dynamic Duo

After senior goaltender Rob Nichols played Friday night and made 39 saves, freshman Adam Huska was behind the net on Saturday and made 17 saves.

“We have two good goaltenders,” Cavanaugh said. “I feel very confident with both of them. It’s a nice position to be in, especially when you are playing a 7:00 p.m. game and a 3:00 p.m. game.”

On the season, Huska has started four more games than Nichols. The freshman owns a 6-5-4 record and .920 save percentage while Nichols is 4-5-4 with a .917 save percentage. Nichols holds a slight edge in goals against, averaging 2.41 to Huska’s 2.68.


Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.