The Notre Dame Fighting Irish staged a furious comeback on Saturday night, rallying from a two-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime, before dropping a 4-3 decision to Irondequoit in Section 5 hockey action at Lakeshore Hockey Arena and Sports Center in Rochester.
Junior Vin DiRisio’s goal with 35 seconds left in regulation – after Coach Marc Staley had pulled freshman goaltender Frank Falleti Jr. for an extra attacker – tied the game for the Irish, who fought back after trailing 2-0 after the first period (for the second straight game) and 3-1 early in the third period.
With the loss, the Irish end the regular season at 7-3-1 and finish second to Irondequoit, 9-2-1, in their division.
Notre Dame, however, held on to the No. 1 seed for the Section V Class A Tournament due to its strength of schedule and posting six victories over teams with winning records.
“You get more power ranking points by beating teams with winning records,” Staley said, who added that ND earned points for taking the game to overtime.
The Irish will face either Pittsford or Webster Schroeder on Tuesday night at the Batavia Ice Rink in the first round of the eight-team tournament.
Hilton and Victor, both at 10-2, are seeded second and third, respectively, while Gates/Wayne/EI/Wheatland, 9-3, is the fourth seed.
In last night’s game, Irondequoit took control early as sophomore defenseman Leo Letta redirected a shot by senior forward Bryce Billitier past Falleti at the 2:44 mark.
With senior goaltender Vaughn Letta thwarting several excellent chances by junior Gavin Schrader, Vin DiRisio and freshman Joe DiRisio, Irondequoit was able to take a 2-0 lead at 12:40 when Eli Velepec beat Falleti after passes by Billitier and Bruin Giudice set it up.
The Irish began to assert themselves in the second period as Schrader’s relentless work in the corners and rushes up the ice put Irondequoit on its heels. Falleti made a couple of sparkling saves as well to prevent the Eagles increasing their lead.
Goaltender Letta continued to come up big for Irondequoit until a Vin DiRisio slapshot beat him at the 10:23 mark with ND in a two-man advantage situation. Cooper Hamilton and Joe DiRisio assisted.
ND outshot Irondequoit 14-5 in a period marked by some hard checking and, at times, “chippy” play.
In the third period, only 32 seconds had elapsed when Irondequoit's Jordan Flynn, who was closing in to Falleti’s right, fired a cross-ice pass to Billitier, who tucked it into the open side of net to make it 3-1.
The Irish wasted little time pulling within a goal again as Joe DiRisio got one past Vaughn Letta with help from Schrader and Wyatt Krolczyk at 1:55.
ND continued to put pressure on Irondequoit but goalie Letta stood tall. When he stymied Schrader in front of the net with 47 seconds left, it looked bleak for the visitors.
After an Irondequoit timeout, Falleti headed to the bench as ND had a faceoff in Irondequoit’s zone. The move paid off when Vin DiRisio slapped the loose puck past Letta. Schrader and Joe DiRisio assisted.
In the five-minute overtime, Joe DiRisio had a golden opportunity in front of the net but, again, Letta was equal to the task. Moments later, Leo Letta skated free and drilled it past Falleti to the glove side.
With the win, Irondequoit earned the No. 1 seed in the highly-competitive Section V Class B Tournament, which features four other teams with just two or three losses – Canandaigua Academy, Penfield, Brockport and Webster Thomas.
The Irish fired 39 shots to Irondequoit’s 28 after being outshot 12-9 in the first period.
“We did not play a solid first period for the second game in a row, but it’s also the second game in a row that we battled back,” Staley said. “Going down 3-1 in the first shift of the third period, a lot of teams would have folded. But this team didn’t. They showed something to each other tonight that they’re in this thing to battle right to the end.”
For the season, Schrader has 17 goals and 17 assists, Vin DiRisio has 17 goals and 13 assists and Joe DiRisio has 12 goals and seven assists. Hamilton and Krolczyk have 14 and 13 assists, respectively. Falleti has a 3.41 goals against average.