Connecticut and Merrimack battle to tie

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In another Hockey East battle between two teams seeking points in the standings, Merrimack came out hard and dominated early on, but Connecticut hung in there en route to a 2-2 tie in a very entertaining game.

“It’s Hockey East; that team can defend and they do a very good job keeping things to the outside,” said Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy. “I was proud of our guys; it was a hard-fought point.”

The first period saw the home team come out strong and dictate the pace of play, peppering Connecticut goaltender Tanner Creel with 11 shots throughout the period. Merrimack wasn’t able to get much done with its lone power-play opportunity in the period.

Connecticut broke through for the game’s first goal when Joona Kunnas fired a shot from the point that found its way past traffic and by goaltender Collin Delia to put his team up 1-0 at 12:04 of the first period.

The second period saw much of what the first had to offer minus the goal. Each goaltender made big stops to keep the score the way it stood. Connecticut’s lineup took a hit when Kunnas went hard into the boards and missed the rest of the period.

Merrimack’s best chance came from freshman Ludvig Larsson when he skated in between the dots and snapped a shot that was stopped by Creel.

The third period saw Merrimack rally and start the period off with a goal from Jace Hennig, as he jammed one in to tie the game at 2:50 of the third.

Connecticut got the go-ahead goal from Max Letunov with six minutes left to play, but with under a minute left in the game, Merrimack’s Brian Christie jammed a puck past Creel in front to send the game to extra time. In overtime, neither team would find the back of the net and both teams would skate to a 2-2 tie.

“Any time the other team scores in the last minute you feel like you should have won the game,” said Connecticut coach Mike Cavanaugh. “Merrimack played really well in the third period and I thought they outplayed us in the third period. In the end when I watch the tape, it won’t surprise me if we got what we deserved.”

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