UNH Splits Series With #12 Nebraska-Omaha: Game 2 Win, Goal-by-Goal
The University of Nebraska-Omaha entered the series against UNH as the 12th-ranked team in the country. They were also #4 in the all-important Division I PairWise Rankings and in second place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference just 1 point behind first place Miami and Minnesota-Duluth. In Game 1 of the series, UNH showed that it could compete with one of the top Division I teams.
Game 2 featured the first ever NCAA game for newly enrolled Danny Tirone. Last season, Tirone was the #1 goalie for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL and had a successful rookie campaign. In 44 regular season games, Tirone posted a 2.63 goals against average (8th best in USHL) and a .917 save percentage (6th best in USHL). Tirone spent the first half of this season with the Junior Bruins of the USPHL in anticipation of his enrolling at UNH for the second semester.
In the overtime loss to UNO on Tuesday night, UNH's first line of Casey Thrush at left wing, Grayson Downing at center, and Tyler Kelleher at right wing accounted for the teams only goal. In the Game 2 victory, this line figured prominently in 3 of UNH's 6 goals. In each of UNH's six wins so far this season, the team has exploded for between 5 and 7 goals. During their twelve loses, they have averaged only 1.17 goals per game. At the risk of oversimplification, UNH needs to score more consistently during the second half of the season.
GAME 2 (Dec. 31)
UNH 6, Nebraska-Omaha 2
Sophomore Tyler Kelleher is having a breakout season. Last season, he scored 5 goals and added 11 assists. On New Year's Eve, Kelleher scored UNH's 4th goal and assisted on the 2nd, 3rd (the game-winner) and 5th. He is now UNH's leading scorer with 7 goals and 10 assists in 18 games. Just as important, Kelleher has become an effective two-way player. Last season his +/- rating was -8. So far this season, he's a +1. For his efforts against Nebraska-Omaha, Tyler Kelleher was named the Warrior Player of the Week in Hockey East.
Goal-by-Goal BreakdownPERIOD 1
Andrew Poturalski-5 (Assisted by Matt Willows-7 & Casey Thrush-7) 3:56 of 1st Period - UNH 1, Nebraska-Omaha 0 ~ Willows trapped the puck as it went around the boards behind the UNO goal and zipped a cross-ice pass to Poturalski open in the mid-slot. ~ Poturalski snapped a wrister over Thompson's glove.
Brett Pesce-2 (Assisted by Tyler Kelleher-8 & John Furgele-4) 11:58 of 1st Period - UNH 2, Nebraska-Omaha 0 ~ UNH only had 1 power play per game in the two-game series. They capitalized on this one. ~ Kelleher, Downing, and Thrush moved the puck smartly behind and around the UNO net. Kelleher threaded a pass to Pesce in the mid-slot and he wristed it over Thompson's blocker.
Danny Tirone Saves ~ In all, Tirone faced 26 shots on goal and he made 24 saves. ~ Late in the first period with UNH ahead 2-0, Tirone made a blocker save on one side of the net then a glove save at the opposite side. Notice how well positioned he was in the crease making the saves look routine.
Grayson Downing-8 (Assisted by Tyler Kelleher-9) 7:13 of 2nd Period - UNH 3, Nebraska-Omaha 0 ~ 7 minutes into the second stanza, UNH quickly transitioned into the UNO zone. ~ Just after Kelleher carried the puck across the blueline, he stopped and fed a cross-ice pass to Downing in the faceoff circle to Thompson's left. ~ Downing skated in and maneuvered a quick forehand to backhand move to get the puck behind Thompson for the game-winner.
Danny Tirone Save ~ After Downing put UNH ahead 3-0, Tirone maintained the lead by kicking out a wrap-around attempt. ~ Notice how he tracks the UNO shooter as he skates behind the net.
Tyler Kelleher-7 (Assisted by Grayson Downing-7 & Casey Thrush-8) 12:01 of 2nd Period - UNH 4, Nebraska-Omaha 0 ~ With 8 minutes remaining in the second stanza, UNO hit the cross bar but UNH quickly transitioned through center ice. ~ Downing circled with the puck at the half-wall and fed a cross-ice pass to Kelleher cruising down the slot. Kelleher redirected the pass behind Thompson.
David Pope (From Petterson & Messner) 7:23 of Period 3 - UNH 4, Nebraska-Omaha 1 ~ About 6 minutes into the third period, UNH was headed for a possible shutout. Tirone had made 16 saves. ~ UNO maintained puck possession in the UNH end and finally got one past Tirone. Petterson made a nice pass from the midslot to the open Pope on Tirone's doorstep.
Danny Tirone Save ~ Shortly after UNO scored its first goal, Maxim Gaudreault was penalized for tripping. ~ UNO turned up the pressure on the power play. Tirone held them off, at least for the moment, with an athletic stick save.
Luc Snuggerud (From Guentzel & Ortega) 9:29 of Period 3 - UNH 4, Nebraska-Omaha 2 ~ As the UNO power play continued, they finally got one past Tirone on a redirected wrist shot from the top of the slot.
Matias Cleland-2 (Assisted by Tyler Kelleher-9) 16:36 of 3rd Period - UNH 5, Nebraska-Omaha 2 ~ With 3 and a half minutes remaining in regulation, UNO pulled their goalie. ~ Kyle Smith won a faceoff in the UNH end. Tyler Kelleher passed through traffic to Matias Cleland who sent it down the length of the ice into the open net.
Matt Willows-9 (Assisted by Shane Eiserman-3) 19:01 of 3rd Period - UNH 6, Nebraska-Omaha 2 ~ With UNO keeping up the pressure, Tirone made a nice blocker save to the corner. ~ Freshman Shane Eiserman saw Willows skating out of the UNH zone and hit him with a stretch pass. ~ Willows made a nifty forehand to backhand move and flipped the puck over UNO goalie Kirk Thompson.
With the win, UNH improved its overall record to 6-11-1. They have one more out-of-conference game remaining next Friday against Dartmouth at the Whittemore Center. After that, the remaining 15 games are all against Hockey East teams.