SOUTH BEND — Cal Burke’s goal into an empty net at 17:51 of the third period ended up being the game-winner as No. 8 Notre Dame opened its season with a tough 4-3 hockey victory over Air Force before 4,977 in the Lefty Smith Rink at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Coach Jeff Jackson’s Irish fell behind 2-0 as Irish freshman goalie Ryan Bischel allowed two goals in the first period.
But the Irish tied the game at 2-2 in the second period on goals by Colin Theisen and Alex Steeves. Steeves finished with a goal and assist, and Michael Graham had two assists.
Cam Morrison put the Irish up 3-2 at 5:03 of the third period and it remained that way until Air Force pulled goalie Zach LaRocque late in the third period. Mike O’Leary won a draw and Burke gathered the puck, skated out of the zone and shot the puck three-quarters of the rink into the vacated net for a 4-2 lead.
Matt Pulver scored his second goal of the night at 19:59 to pull the Falcons within one at the final buzzer.
The two teams play Sunday afternoon at 3.