CEDAR RAPIDS - Yes, Danny Tirone got the game puck. Yes, he knows who Jake Hildebrand is.
Those were the pertinent answers provided after the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders' 1-0 win Wednesday night over Des Moines at the Ice Arena.
It was teammate Andrew Poturalski who secured the disc postgame and gave it to Tirone, a nice memento for the goaltender's first United States Hockey League shutout. He wasn't overly busy but had 18 saves to help send the Riders to their seventh win in 10 games.
"It feels good, but all I care about is the win," Tirone said in typical team-first fashion. "The shutout is just kind of an added bonus. It's a great accomplishment for the team."
You can say that again because it's been almost two full years since Cedar Rapids has had one.
That's where Jake Hildebrand comes in. He's a sophomore having a good season at Michigan State and had the previous RoughRiders' shutout, way back on March 24, 2012, against Waterloo.
"I'll take a 1-0 win any day," said Judd Peterson, whose second-period goal was the only one. "Every game matters, every point matters for us, especially now that we're getting down toward the end of the season. We need every point, so tonight was a big win."
The Riders (21-14-1, 43 points) moved into third place alone in the USHL's Eastern Conference, six points back of second-place Dubuque and nine behind first-place Indiana, a team Cedar Rapids beat last weekend.
This club is playing solid hockey. Two more games await this weekend, Friday night at Sioux Falls and Saturday night at home against Green Bay.
"I just think we have the right guys in the locker room," said Peterson. "Every guy is buying into the system, every guy is working. It's a lot different team now than it was the beginning of the year. It's a great thing we have got going on. We just have to keep it up."
Tirone - a 19-year-old Connecticut resident - has been a rock for the RoughRiders since the holiday break, though he was pulled in his previous start last weekend at Dubuque after allowing five goals in 27 minutes. That made this a nice comeback game, of sorts, for him.
"It's definitely not good to get pulled," said Tirone, who plans on returning to Cedar Rapids next season before embarking on his collegiate career at New Hampshire. "Obviously, I didn't have my best game, and we couldn't come back from the deficit. I felt bad, in terms of not doing my job. I just tried to stay focused and put that one behind me. Try to come out and win the next game."
Which he did convincingly. Peterson got his team-leading 15th goal at the 7:34 mark of the second, converting a backhand to cap a nice passing play that involved Mitch Maloney (primary assist) and Frederik Tiffels.
Here is the official gamesheet: