Men's Hockey: Latta tallies point No. 100 as Huskies tie two in Erie
Senior captain Brant Harris scored his 100th career point last weekend as the UConn men's hockey team battled top-ranked Atlantic Hockey rival Mercyhurst to a pair of overtime ties, splitting with the Lakers 2-2 on Friday and 3-3 on Saturday, both in Erie, Pa.
After posting two assists in the Huskies' Saturday night game against the Lakers, Harris became the 27th player in program history to reach 100 career points and the sixth in the Division I era, which began in 1998. The senior now has 49 goals and 51 assists in 126 career games.
The Huskies (10-7-4, 8-4-3 AHA) now stand in fourth place in Atlantic Hockey with 19 points through 15 games, and the team has just 13 games remaining on their regular season schedule - 12 of which are conference matchups.
Mercyhurst (13-9-4, 11-1-3 AHA) was the first team on the board on Friday night, taking an early 1-0 lead 12-and-a-half minutes into the first period. The Huskies responded quickly, however, with the equalizer coming less than six minutes later off of the stick of freshman forward Brent Norris with assists from freshman defensemen Ryan Segalla and Joona Kunnas.
The Lakers answered by scoring the lone goal of the second stanza, taking a 2-1 lead - their second of the night - late in the period after junior forward Matt Zay beat UConn senior goaltender Matt Grogan with a wrist shot to the stick side.
Down 2-1 going into the third period, the Huskies found another goal after 13 hard-fought minutes, with Norris scoring his second of the night to tie the game 2-2, a score that would hold up for the remainder of the period and send the game to overtime.
The Huskies were forced to settle for the tie after proving unable to find the back of the net in the extra period, with both Grogan and Mercyhurst goaltender Jimmy Sarjeant standing tall for their respective teams.
Grogan finished the night with 38 saves on 40 shots - good for a .950 save percentage - and was named second star of the game. UConn finished the night 0-for-3 on the powerplay and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, with the offense managing 39 shots on net.
The Huskies returned to the ice for another meeting with the Lakers on Saturday night, a game that would end in a 3-3 tie despite UConn digging itself out of a three-goal deficit in the second period.
Mercyhurst got the Huskies on their heels by putting three goals on the board within a ten-minute span, with goals coming 13 minutes into the first period and at the one and two-minute marks of the second period, with the first and third scores coming on the powerplay.
Down 3-0, with Grogan pulled in favor of freshman goaltender Robby Nichols and with 38 minutes worth of regulation time remaining, the Huskies got to work and began chipping away at the Lakers' lead.
Momentum began to build after senior forward Jordan Sims got UConn on the board with a powerplay goal of its own four minutes into the second period with assists from Harris and senior forward Billy Latta.
The snowball continued to tumble down the mountain as sophomore forward Shawn Pauly then shortened the Mercyhurst lead to one goal with another score just two minutes after Sims', making it a 3-2 game with over a period-and-a-half to play.
The Huskies were unable to find the equalizer after 15 scoreless minutes at the end of the second period and 17 scoreless minutes to start the third. But with regulation set to expire, UConn was able to hit paydirt once again on the man advantage, as Billy Latta tied the game thanks to the milestone assist from Harris with just under three minutes left to play, earning Harris his 100th career point and the Huskies a tie on the scoreboard.
Latta's goal would hold up as Nichols stood tall the rest of the way, giving the Huskies their second tie in as many nights and third of the season.
Grogan - who started the game - made 16 saves on 19 shots, allowing three goals before being replaced by Nichols, who made 12 saves and posted 42 minutes of shutout hockey in his stead.
Both teams were outstanding on the power play, capitalizing twice out of three total chances on the man advantage. Latta was named first star of the game after posting a two-point night (one goal, one assist), moving his team leading season total to 16 points through 20 games.
UConn will return to action on Friday, Jan. 24 at home against Atlantic Hockey rival American International. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Freitas Ice Forum.
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