Tirone Backstops UNH 2-2 Tie with #14 Notre Dame
What a difference a year makes. Last season, UNH goalie Danny Tirone had a very tough time with Notre Dame. In the first of a two-game series at the Whittemore Center on January 22nd, Tirone surrendered 4 goals on 16 Notre Dame shots and was replaced by third-string goalie Jamie Regan midway through the second period. He sat out the subsequent night's game against Notre Dame. Tonight at Compton Arena in South Bend, Indiana, Tirone gained redemption with 47 saves, several of the exceptional variety, as UNH tied Notre Dame 2-2.
Once again, UNH showed that it can hang with a ranked team. The Fighting Irish entered the game ranked #14 in the nation. UNH gave up a soft goal just 4 minutes into the opening stanza. Freshman defenseman Anthony Wyse tried to catch a harmless wrist shot from the blueline but it skipped underneath his left glove. Notre Dame's Oglevie scooped up the loose puck and swept it past Tirone, who had no chance to make the save.
In recent games, UNH has had no difficulty bouncing back after giving up the first goal of the game and tonight was no exception. Midway through the first period, the nation's second leading scorer Tyler Kelleher floated a pass to linemate Jason Salvaggio as he entered the ND zone. Salvaggio flashed his goal-scoring abilities as he controlled the puck, held off a defender, and slid the puck between the pads of goalie Cal Peterson. It was Salvaggio's 15th goal of the season and he briefly held the team's lead in goal-scoring. With the assist, Kelleher moved into a tie for leading scorer in the nation (14g, 27a, 41pts).
Not to be outdone, freshman standout Patrick Grasso scored his 15th goal of the season five minutes into the second period on UNH's second power play opportunity of the game. Junior Michael McNicholas took the initial shot on Peterson from the right faceoff circle and Salvaggio fired the rebound forcing another save by Peterson. This time, Grasso batted in the rebound as he was parked just outside the crease. Grasso and Salvaggio are now tied for 5th in goal-scoring in NCAA Division I.
UNH maintained a 2-1 lead for the final 15 minutes of the second period and the initial 9 and 1/2 minutes of the third period. A mere 9 seconds after UNH successfully held off the Irish on their fourth power play opportunity, Wegwerth skated out of the corner and scored the game-tying goal.
The final 15 seconds of overtime served as a snapshot of the entire game. Freshman Brendan van Riemsdyk just missed scoring the game-winner at one end of the ice and Danny Tirone came out of his crease to stone Notre Dame's leading goal scorer Anders Bjork (15 goals).
With the tie, UNH has 15 points in Hockey East competition and is tied with UMass-Lowell for 4th place. Notre Dame has 14 points and is in 5th place by themselves. The teams will play their final regulation, Hockey East game tomorrow night in South Bend. This is Notre Dame's final season as a member of Hockey East.