If you look at the series history between Merrimack and Connecticut, it is lopsided in favor of the Warriors.
But on Saturday night in North Andover, the Huskies took a step forward in their program (which moves to Hockey East in 2014-15), upsetting Merrimack, 3-1, in front of 2,084 at Lawler Arena.
It was just the second time in 25 all-time meetings that the Huskies emerged victorious, the only other occasion on Oct. 22, 2005.
The winner was scored at 3:50 of the third period when senior center Sean Ambrosie, who was at the right point, took a couple of strides to his left and let fly a wrister that sailed over sophomore goalie Rasmus Tirronen (21 saves).
“It’s a big game most of all because of the adversity we had to go through this week,’’ said UConn assistant coach David Berard, who took over last week with Bruce Marshall taking an indefinite medical leave of absence. “When Bruce announced his medical leave on Monday, I think it hit everyone right between the eyes. The resiliency that these kids showed throughout the week at practice, staying focused, coming together and winning our first game of the year [against Sacred Heart on Friday], I think it gave us a lot of confidence coming into tonight. I think we played as good a game as we can play. Overall, we did everything we needed to do to win tonight.’’
The Warriors (4-5-1) had a significant advantage in the shot department in the scoreless first period, pouring 15 on senior goaltender Garrett Bartus to just five for UConn (2-4-1).
Merrimack scored a fluky goal to take the lead at 11:26 of the second. UConn senior defenseman Tom Janosz drove Warriors right wing Justin Mansfield into Bartus and the net, resulting in a delayed penalty.
The Warriors retained possession and a shot by junior center Rhett Bly was blocked. The puck squirted out to sophomore left wing Kyle Singleton, who beat Bartus from the doorstep for his second goal of the season.
Just over two minutes later, the Huskies pulled even during a power play.
Sophomore left wing Cody Sharib did the honors at 13:41 from just outside the right post. Merrimack was in penalty trouble in the second and UConn fed off that momentum, pressuring the home team throughout the rest of the game.
Senior left wing Evan Carriere sealed it with an empty-netter with 18.4 seconds left.
“I want to congratulate UConn,’’ said coach Mark Dennehy. “I thought they did a great job. We did some good things too, but at the end of the day, this is a blue-collar sport and I didn’t think we were blue enough, and now we’re all blue.’’
Maine 4, UMass-Lowell 3 — The Black Bears topped the No. 17 River Hawks at the Tsongas Center behind four different goal scorers. Kyle Williams scored the winner for Maine (2-9-0, 1-5-0 Hockey East) with just under nine minutes left in the game. Joseph Pendenza had a goal and an assist for UMass-Lowell (2-4-1, 1-3-1).
Northeastern 3, Alabama-Huntsville 0 — Ludwig Karlsson netted two goals, and Vinny Saponari and Kevin Roy each notched two assists as the Huskies (3-4-1) topped the Chargers (0-8-1) at Matthews Arena. John Griggs made 51 saves in the loss.
UNH 4, Vermont 0 — Casey DeSmith recorded the shutout for the No. 9 Wildcats, making 27 saves and recording an assist in a win over the Catamounts (1-3-2, 1-3-2 Hockey East) in Durham, N.H. Austin Block scored twice for New Hampshire (6-1-1, 4-1-1) and Kevin Goumas tallied three assists.
Harvard 4, Rensselaer 0 — Jimmy Vesey scored two unassisted goals to lift the No. 14 Crimson past the Engineers at the Bright Center. Marshall Everson and Brian Hart also scored for Harvard (3-2-0, 2-2-0 ECAC). Bryce Merriam stopped 34 shots for Rensselaer (1-5-2, 0-4-0).
Quinnipiac 4, Cornell 1 — Eric Hartzell made 22 saves as the Bobcats (5-3-1, 2-0-0 ECAC) beat the No. 4 Big Red (3-2-1, 1-2-1) in Hamden, Conn. Ben Arnt scored the winner with just over five minutes remaining in the second period.
Dartmouth 3, Union 2 — In Hanover, N.H., the Big Green (5-0-1, 4-0-0 ECAC) beat the No. 8 Dutchmen behind Brandon McNally’s goal and assist. Union (6-2-1, 3-1-0) got goals from Daniel Carr and Matt Hatch in the third period.
Yale 4, St. Lawrence 2 — Andrew Miller scored two goals, and Bruins draft pick Rob O’Gara added two helpers as the Bulldogs (3-2-1, 2-2-0 ECAC) beat the Saints (5-2-1, 0-1-1) in New Haven.
Clarkson 3, Brown 3 — Bruins draft pick Ben Sexton registered a goal and an assist as the Golden Knights (1-4-4, 1-0-1 ECAC) tied the Bears in Providence. Goalie Marco DeFilippo made 45 saves for Brown (1-3-2, 0-2-2).
Northeastern 4, Vermont 1 — At Matthews Arena, Casey Pickett scored a pair of goals for the No. 8 Huskies (8-1-1, 4-1-1 Hockey East). Erin Wente scored for the Catamounts (2-9-0, 1-3-0), and Roxanne Douville recorded 27 saves.