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- The UConn Huskies close out the first semester hosting No. 19 ranked Merrimack Friday night. The Huskies are coming off a Hockey East sweep of then No. 5 ranked UMass Lowell, their first weekend sweep in league play since joining the conference.
- The Huskies picked up a pair of Hockey East weekly honors after topping UMass Lowell as Tage Thompson was named the Rookie of the Week and Rob Nichols tabbed Defensive Player of the Week.
- Thompson scored three power play goals, including both game-winners, over the weekend. He and Austin Farley of Minnesota Duluth share the NCAA lead with seven power play goals this season.
- Thompson’s seven goals leads the Huskies and is ranked second among league rookies and nine among all league scorers.
- The UConn power play has moved up to 5th in the Hockey East rankings, converting at 19.0% (12-63). The Huskies rank 27th in the nation.
- Senior Shawn Pauly returned last weekend after missing five games with a lower body injury (knee). Pauly scored a goal and picked up an assist in Sunday’s 2-1 win over the River Hawks.
- Freshman Max Letunov has registered an assist in each of the last four games and leads the team with 11 helpers. He is tied for eighth in Hockey East and 20th in the country in assists.
- Letunov has nine assists on the power play, tied with New Hampshire’s Tyler Kelleher for the most in Hockey East and the country.
- His 17 points is third among HEA freshmen and fourth among national rookies.
Last Season vs. Merrimack... UConn and Merrimack met three times last season with the Huskies losing on the road, tying in the Liberty Invitational and winning at home. The Huskies dropped a 2-1 overtime decision at Merrimack in the program’s first-ever Hockey East game in early October. The two teams met in the first round of the Liberty Invitational in Newark, N.J., skating to a 2-2 tie. The Huskies would advance to the title game of the tournament thanks to a shootout win. In the season finale in February, Spencer Naas scored the only goal at 14:42 of the third period and Rob Nichols turned away all 32 shots he faced for a 1-0 victory in the XL Center. For Nichols, it was his fourth shutout on the season.
Scouting the Warriors... After a 6-1-2 start to their season, Merrimack is winless in their last five (0-3-2) heading into Friday night’s tilt. The Warriors are coming off a pair of losses, 2-1 and 4-0, in a home and home with No. 1 ranked Providence. Merrimack entered the week ranked No. 19 in this week’s USHO.com Top-20 poll. The Warriors have a balance offensive attack with seniors Brian Christie and Ben Bahe, junior Hampus Gustafsson and sophomore Brett Saney all leading the way with 10 points apiece. In net, sophomore Collin Delia is fourth in Hockey East with a 2.09 goals against average while sporting a .919 save percentage. Merrimack is one of the top defensive teams in Hockey East, holding teams to just 2.14 goals per game, ranked fourth. The Warriors have struggled on the power play, converting just twice on 43 chances (.047), last in the nation.
Last Time Out... UConn junior goaltender Rob Nichols stopped 30 shots and freshman Tage Thompson scored another power play goal to lead the Huskies to a 2-1 win at No. 5 nationally ranked UMass Lowell Sunday afternoon from the Tsongas Center. The win gave the Huskies a weekend sweep over the nationally ranked River Hawks after Saturday’s 4-3 win at home. UConn trailed 1-0 heading into the third period but goals by senior Shawn Pauly at 8:34 followed by the Thompson game-winner at 13:03 gave the Huskies their first win when trailing after two under head coach Mike Cavanaugh. In between the Pauly and Thompson goals, Nichols denied UMass Lowell’s Ryan McGrath on a penalty shot. Pauly picked up an assist on the Thompson goal giving the senior a two-point afternoon. For Thompson it was his seventh power play goal on the season. The Huskies outshot the River Hawks, 33-31.
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