HARTFORD, Conn. – The UConn men’s hockey team got a late power play goal from freshman Joseph Masonius (Spring Lake, N.J.) and a stop by Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) on a breakaway in the final seconds to help the Huskies to a 3-3 tie with No. 19 ranked Merrimack Friday night in front of 4,814 at the XL Center. The Huskies take a point in the final game of the fall semester and are now 5-10-1 overall and 3-7-1 in Hockey East.
UConn built a 2-0 lead after second period goals by sophomores Jesse Schwartz (Toronto, Ontario) and Jeff Wight (Coquitlam, British Columbia) but saw their lead erased by three-straight Merrimack goals in the third. Masonius provided the tying goal at 18:41 as the Huskies finish off the month of December with five out of a possible six points in the Hockey East standings.
The Huskies struck first, grabbing a 1-0 lead at 3:55 in the second. The Warriors got the puck in their zone looking to break out but Schwartz broke up the play, carried the puck to the top of the right circle and rifled a shot into the low left corner for his second on the season.
For the third-straight game UConn scored on the power play as Wight capitalized at the 11:19 mark for a 2-0 lead. Freshman Miles Gendron (Shrewsbury, Mass.) cycled the puck from the point to Schwartz on the left wing. Schwartz fired on net and the puck was deflected in front of Delia and out to Wight in the right circle who buried it on an open net for his first career goal.
Merrimack came into Friday night’s game dead last in the nation on the power play, converting just two-of-47 attempts. The Warriors doubled their season total in the third period, scoring twice on back-to-back power plays.
Freshman Ludvig Larsson ended the shutout bid with his first career goal at 7:10, taking a feed from Chris LeBlanc from behind the net and burying it top-shelf. The Warriors were 0-for-2 on the power play before UConn’s Corey Ronan (Franklin, Mass.) was called for a trip at 13:41. Just over a minute later Masonius was called for hitting from behind to give Merrimack a 5-on-3 opportunity for 49 seconds.
The Warriors took advantage with goals by Marc Biega and Justin Hussar just 48 second a part to grab the lead. Biega picked-up a pass from Jared Kolquist in the slot and whipped a wrist shot past Nichols stick side to knot it at 2-2 at 16:23. Hussar hit Brian Christie in the right circle who fed it back to the senior in the slot who put it home top-shelf for his fourth on the year and a 3-2 lead at 16:23.
The Huskies got one more power play chance on the night as Biega was called for hooking at 18:20. Just 21 seconds into the opportunity, Masonius collected a feed from sophomore David Drake (Naperville, Ill.) in the left circle and blasted a slap shot past Collin Delia to tie the game at 3-3.
Merrimack nearly pulled off a last second win as Larsson broke free with just seconds left and headed in on Nichols untouched for a break-away. The junior netminder came up with the pad save just before the horn sounded to send the game to overtime.
The Huskies were outshot 3-1 in the extra session with their best look coming from freshman Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn.) who got a shot off from the slot but was denied by Delia.
Merrimack finished with a 34-29 edge on shots and I snow 6-4-5 overall and 2-3-5 in the league. Delia made 26 saves for the Warriors.
Nichols stopped 31 shots for UConn while freshman Max Letunov (Moscow, Russia) picked up an assist for the fifth-straight game. He now has a team-best 12 assists, 10 coming on the power play.
UConn will be off until 2016 when they open the second half of the season at the 25th Annual Mariucci Classic. The Huskies will face host Minnesota on January 1st and either Harvard or Ferriss State on January 2nd.
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