SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson felt pretty good about his team following last weekend’s Big Ten Conference road sweep of high-scoring Michigan.
With sophomore goaltender Ryan Bischel winning Big Ten First Star honors after allowing just three goals and stopping 55 of 58 shots, the 16th-ranked Irish had much to be encouraged about heading into a two-game, non-conference series with No. 20 Arizona State Thursday night at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
But Bischel and the Irish defense struggled from the start against Greg Powers’ Sun Devils, who are playing four games against each of the Big Ten’s seven teams during this COVID-19 season. The Irish gave up two goals in the first minute and 55 seconds and never could get over the hump in a 6-3 setback, their third at the Lefty Smith Rink.
“It wasn’t the same team I saw last weekend, I can tell you that,” Jackson said. “From the goal on out, I thought our performance wasn’t nearly as good. You have to give Arizona State credit for that. They return a lot of goal scoring and they showed it tonight. They really trap well and then they transition well from the trap. We turned the puck over way too much and gave them way too many opportunities.”
Bischel, who got the start, ended up watching the final 10:54 from the bench as Jackson inserted Dylan St. Cyr to get a spark. But there was none.
Left wings Matthew Kopperud and Jax Murray scored a pair of goals each, and Kopperud added an assist on a tally by linemate Demetrios Koumontzis, who also had a three-point night for the Sun Devils (3-3-1) to aid goaltender Evan DeBrouwer, who finished with 31 saves.
Right wing Trevor Janicke had a power play goal and center Graham Slaggert and defenseman Nate Clurman also scored for the Irish (2-3-0). Bischel (20) and St. Cyr (2) combined for 22 saves for Notre Dame.
The Sun Devils, who may have found their scoring touch last weekend in 8-5 and 6-3 wins at Madison, Wis., scored 11 seconds into the game. After James Sanchez won the opening draw, left wing Chris Grando fed 6-foot-3 freshman Ryan O’Reilly, who skated around the Irish defense and beat Bischel at the doorstep for a 1-0 lead.
It became 2-0 Arizona State at 1:55 when Kopperud took a feed from center Jordan Sandhu in the left faceoff circle and wristed a 10-footer quickly past Bischel.
The shots were 5-3 in Arizona State’s favor in the first five minutes before the Irish awoke.
They went on the power play at 12:00 when Arizona State’s Jacob Semik was whistled for hooking. Irish defensemen Matt Hellickson and Nick Leivermann controlled the puck at the point until Leivermann skated down the slot and took a shot. DeBrouwer made the save, but Janicke jumped on the rebound and buried it to make it 2-1 at 12:54.
But Arizona State answered in less than a minute when Murray scored his first goal at 13:49 off a feed from Benji Eckerle to make it 3-1.
Notre Dame kept up the pressure, however, and was rewarded at 19:51 when Graham Slaggert jumped on another rebounded shot from Leivermann and beat DeBrouwer to make it 3-2. Landon Slaggert also received an assist.
Irish freshman left wing Grant Silianoff almost tied the game for Notre Dame early in the second period but hit the pipe.
It was still 3-2 Arizona State when Leivermann was penalized for tripping at 4:43. The Irish penalty-killing units did not allow a shot at Bischel in the two minutes but then couldn’t get off the ice when it was over.
A turnover in the Irish defensive zone ended up on the stick of Michael Mancinelli, whose initial shot was stopped by Bischel. But Koumontzis jumped on the rebound and put it behind Bischel 10 seconds after the penalty expired, and the Sun Devils’ lead was back to two, 4-2.
Once again, the Irish responded with some nice work behind the Arizona State goal line by Jake Pivonka and Max Ellis. The 5-foot-9 Ellis picked up a pass from Pivonka to the right of DeBrouwer and slid the puck out to Clurman, who was skating into the left faceoff circle. The Irish captain shot the puck along the ice past the Arizona State goalie at 12:54 for his second goal of the season to make it 4-3 and the game stayed that way until the intermission.
But the Irish would get no closer. DeBrouwer made five saves early in the third period, including a point-blank attempt by Janicke.
Then another Irish turnover in their own zone was picked up by Koumontzis, who shoveled the puck over to an unguarded Kopperud in the right faceoff circle. Before Bischel could adequately react, the puck was behind him and the Sun Devils had a 5-3 lead with 9:06 gone in the period.
Jackson then switched goalies and St. Cyr was tested just twice. With 2:57 remaining, he was pulled for a sixth attacker and 20 seconds later Murray came up with a loose puck at center ice and skated in for the insurance goal at 17:23.
The two teams concluded their series Friday night at 7.
ARIZONA STATE 6, NOTRE DAME 3
At Smith Rink/Compton Family Arena, South Bend
Arizona State 3 1 2—6
Notre Dame 2 1 0—3
First Period—Scoring: 1. Arizona State, Ryan O’Reilly 2 (James Sanchez, Chris Grando) EV 0:11. 2. Arizona State, Matthew Kopperud 3 (Demetrios Koumontzis, Jordan Sandhu) EV 1:55. 3. Notre Dame, Trevor Janicke 1 (Nick Leivermann, Matt Hellickson) PP 12:54. 4. Arizona State, Jax Murray 3 (Benji Eckerle) EV 13:49. 5. Notre Dame, Graham Slaggert 1 (Landon Slaggert, Nick Leivermann) EV 19:09. Penalties: Arizona State 1-2, Notre Dame 0-0.
Second Period—Scoring: 6. Arizona State, Demetrios Koumontzis 3 (Michael Mancinelli, Matthew Kopperud) EV 6:53. 7. Notre Dame, Nate Clurman 2 (Max Ellis, Jake Pivonka) EV 12:54. Penalties (total): Arizona State 0-0 (1-2), Notre Dame 1-2 (1-2).
Third Period—Scoring: 8. Arizona State, Matthew Kopperud 4 (Demetrios Koumontzis) EV 9:06. 9. Arizona State, Jax Murray 4 (unassisted) EV/EM 17:23. Penalties (total): Arizona State 0-0 (1-2), Notre Dame 0-0 (1-2).
Power-play opportunities—Arizona State 0 of 1, Notre Dame 1 of 1. Faceoffs won—Arizona State 21 (10-7-4), Notre Dame 29 (11-10-8). Blocked shots—Arizona State 17 (7-4-6), Notre Dame 9 (2-6-1). Shots on goal—Arizona State 28 (9-12-7), Notre Dame 34 (17-7-10). Goalie saves—Arizona State, Evan Debrouwer 31 (15-6-10), Notre Dame 22, Ryan Bischel 20 (6-11-3) and Dylan St. Cyr (2). Records—Arizona State 3-3-1, Notre Dame 2-3-0. Referees—Jonathon Sitarski and Sean Fernandez. Linesmen—Bill Hancock and Riley Bowles.