Nov. 14, 2014
North Andover, Massachusetts – Freshman center Connor Hurley beat Merrimack goaltender Rasmus Tirronen on a rebound of his own shot at 1:44 of overtime to give the University of Notre Dame a 3-2 overtime win in front of sell-out crowd of 2,549 at J. Thom Lawler Rink.
The Irish and Warriors traded goals through the first 60 minutes with Vince Hinostroza and Andy Ryan scoring for Notre Dame while Brian Christie and Brett Seney scored for Merrimack. Seney’s goal tied the game at 5:12 of the third period, leading to the overtime stanza.
On the winning goal, freshman right wing Jake Evans carried the puck over the Merrimack blue line while Hurley drove to the goal. Evans put a pass right on Hurley’s stick, as he battled a defenseman and got a shot off on Tirronen. The big Finnish netminder made the save with the rebound falling in the crease to his right where Hurley lifted it over him for his second goal of the season and the game winner.
“Jake (Evans) made a really nice play on the rush,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
“I thought that line, our young line with all freshmen, was starting to get some confidence and started making plays in the offensive zone. That gave us some offensive depth as far as the possession game. We were fortunate that they scored.”
The Irish out shot Merrimack by a 25-24 margin with sophomore Chad Katunar making 22 saves in goal for Notre Dame. Tirronen, Hockey East’s goaltender of the month for October, also finished with 22 saves in the contest.
The victory snapped a two-game Irish losing streak and improved them to 6-4-1 overall and 2-0-1 in Hockey East play. Merrimack falls to 6-3-1 on the year and 2-2-0 in league play. For Notre Dame, Friday night’s game was the first appearance by the Irish at Merrimack since Nov. 26, 1991, a game won by Notre Dame 2-1 in overtime.
The three-game unbeaten streak in Hockey East is the best conference start for the Irish since 2010-11 when they opened with three straight wins in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA).
“This was a hard-fought game; a typical Hockey East game,” said Jackson.
“We were fortunate to score first, because they answered and then we went ahead and they came back. It was good that they didn’t have a chance after we scored in overtime.”
The Irish got on the scoreboard first, taking a 1-0 lead at 4:44 of the opening period. With Notre Dame controlling play in the Merrimack zone, left wing Thomas DiPauli took a pass from freshman defenseman Jordan Gross in the slot. He pump faked a Warrior defender to the ice before firing a shot on Tirronen, who made the stop with the rebound bouncing to the left side. Hinostroza was there to bang the puck home for his second goal of the year to give Notre Dame the 1-0 lead.
Scoring first was key for the Irish as they are now 6-1-1 when they score first and 6-1-0 when leading after one period.
Merrimack got the equalizer just 42 seconds into the second period when Christie redirected a pass from defenseman Justin Mansfield inside the left post behind Katunar for his fifth of the year to make it a 1-1 game.
“I thought Chad (Katunar) played really well tonight,” said Jackson.
“Everyone was putting Petersen as our number one guy. It’s hard for a freshman to just grab that role first year in. Cal (Petersen) has been extremely good, but so has Chad. He played well and made some really big saves in tonight’s game.”
The Irish retook the lead at 15:57 while the teams played four-on-four. Freshman Anders Bjork raced through center ice with the puck and carried it into the left corner. Schneider came away with the biscuit and tried to jam it in the short side behind Tirronen. The puck ended up in the crease under the Finnish goaltender’s pads where Ryan poked it loose and into the goal. The play was reviewed and the goal call was upheld, giving Ryan his first goal of the season.
For Schneider the scoring bid was one of four great chances he had in the first 40 minutes of play.
The Warriors tied the game for the second time at 5:12 of the third period when Seney raced down the left side and beat Katunar with a laser over his catching glove and into the upper right corner for his fifth of the season and a 2-2 tie.
The overtime win was the first for the Irish since March 1, 2014, when they defeated Boston College 2-1 in overtime at Conte Forum.
Notre Dame and Merrimack will meet in the second game of the series at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at Lawler Rink. The game can be seen live on Fox College Sports Atlantic. The contest was originally scheduled to have live video streaming on ESPN3 but will not be seen there.
** Prior to the start of Friday night’s game, Rene Rancourt, the well-known national anthem singer for the Boston Bruins, gave his stirring rendition of the anthem at J. Thom Lawler Rink.
** Tonight’s game marked the first time all season that Merrimack had been out shot in a game as Notre Dame had a 25-24 edge. The Warriors also were 2-0 in overtime this season prior to Friday night’s verdict. The Irish are now 1-0-1 in overtime this season.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 OT - FNotre Dame (6-4-1/2-0-1) 1 1 0 1 - 3Merrimack (6-3-1/2-2-0) 0 1 1 0 - 2
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes; MC: 1 for 2 minutes.
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes; MC: 2 for 4 minutes.
3rd Period: MC: Brett Seney 5 (Jonathan Lashyn), 5:12;.
Penalties: ND: 0 for 0 minutes; MC: 0 for 0 minutes.
Penalties: ND: 0 for 0 minutes; MC: 0 for 0 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Notre Dame 7 - 8 - 9 - 1 - 25Merrimack 8 - 10 - 5 - 1 - 24
Goaltender Saves:ND: Chad Katunar (61:44) 8 - 9 - 4 - 1 - 22MC: Rasmus Tirronen (61:44) 6 - 7 - 9 - 0 - 22
Power Plays:ND: 0 for 2MC: 0 for 3
Attendance: 2,549 (sellout)