Gustafsson’s strike in OT lifts Merrimack over Connecticut

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The Merrimack Warriors played host to the Connecticut Huskies on Saturday night at Lawler Rink, the Huskies’ first-ever Hockey East game since joining the conference. The Warriors won in overtime, 2-1, on goal by Hampus Gustafsson.

The first period saw early back and forth action from both teams. Merrimack killed two penalties, while UConn killed off the lone Merrimack penalty.

Connecticut broke the ice with a late goal with 28 seconds left. David Drake scored off a shot from the point that found its way past Merrimack netminder Rasmus Tirronen.

The second period saw a little less action, as both teams were unable to find the back of the net. Connecticut did rely on its penalty kill to stop two Merrimack power plays in the middle frame.

Late in the third period, Merrimack seemed to score, but it was deemed no goal after review. However, the Warriors tied it at one when freshman Brett Seney jammed the puck into the net with 30 seconds left in regulation.

That set the stage for Gustafsson’s score at 2:52 of overtime to give the Warriors the come-from-behind win.

Tirronen made 17 saves, while Rob Nichols made 41 for UConn.

“I thought we controlled the game in the first period, and then Merrimack controlled the second,” said Connecticut coach Mike Cavanaugh. “They kept a lot of pucks alive and in our zone.”

“It felt like a lot of other Hockey East games we’ve been a part of,” Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said. “They came out with pistons firing. I thought we looked good in the first and then got a little sloppy. We came out and played our brand of hockey in the second and third.”