Coming off of a 3-1 win against No. 12 Merrimack in North Andover on Tuesday, the No. 8 Connecticut Huskies fell to the Warriors 7-3, splitting the season series.
After the puck drop, UConn wasted no time and was the first team to get on the board. With cross-ice pinpoint passes from Harrison Rees and Nick Capone, Chase Bradley found himself open, firing the puck into the goal. The Huskies had a 1-0 lead for the majority of the first period until the Warriors responded with a precise shot on goal from Matt Copponi, equalizing the score at the buzzer. UConn ended the first period outshooting Merrimack 11-9.
Offense exploded in the second period with a combined six goals from both teams. To kick off, The Warriors scored two goals on the Huskies, gaining a 3-1 advantage. Despite this, UConn fought back with a score from Justin Pearson which cut Merrimack’s lead to one. Following that, the Huskies got in some penalty trouble, giving the Warriors the power play advantage, leading to another goal. Samu Salminen allowed UConn to bounce back once again when he scored making the score 4-3. However at the end of the period on another power play, the Warriors added a goal to give them a two goal lead. Although the Huskies kept responding with goals, Merrimack still had the upper hand, leading 5-3 at the intermission.
In the third period, Merrimack pulled away from UConn scoring two more goals, with one being an empty-netter. Thanks to UConn’s eight penalties, Merrimack was able to capitalize on the opportunity to secure the win 7-3. The Huskies outshot the Warriors 36-26 but that wasn’t enough to get the job done.
In this game, goaltender Logan Terness continued to struggle in the net, allowing five Warrior goals. That makes for a total of 11 goals allowed in his past two starts after giving up six to Cornell in the Frozen Apple game. This brings up the question of what head coach Mike Cavanaugh will do about Terness’s slump as Arsenii Sergeev has been playing up to par. This year, when the Huskies have had times of weakness on offense, their defense has been what has saved them, a stark difference from the past two games.
With this loss, the UConn record fell to 11-4-3 while Merrimack improved to 11-4-0. In Hockey East, the Huskies still sit at the No. 1 seed with a record of 8-3-2 and the Warriors are No. 4 with a 7-2-0 record.
This series proves just how competitive the Hockey East conference truly is and how no win is guaranteed based on the rankings. Conference action will not end for the Huskies as they look to bounce back against Boston University this weekend. Their single game against the Terriers is set for Sunday, Dec. 11 at 2:05 p.m. at the XL Center.