No. 1 Denver dominates visiting No. 11 Irish for 5-2 Ice Breaker victory

Tribune Staff

It took the No. 11 Notre Dame hockey team two periods to find its legs in the mile-high altitude at No. 1 Denver Friday night in the season-opening game against the Pioneers.

But coach David Carle’s defending national champions were able to withstand a furious third-period start by Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish on their way to a 5-2 victory in the Ice Breaker Tournament season-opener for both teams.

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Notre Dame never led in the game played before a crowd of 5,859 at Denver’s Magness Arena, trailing 1-0 after the first period and 2-1 after two periods before grad defenseman Chase Blackmun’s early third-period goal provided some life.

But goals by Denver center McKade Webster at 16:21 and senior transfer Casey Dornbach’s second goal of the game, an empty-net tally at 17:06, provided insurance goals for the Pioneers, who played Maine Saturday night for the Ice Breaker championship. The 0-1 Irish, meanwhile, bussed down Interstate 25 to play 0-1 Air Force, which fell 4-1 to the Black Bears in the other tournament game in Colorado Springs.

Junior right wing Ryder Rolston had the other Notre Dame goal, and senior goaltender Ryan Bischel made 22 saves, 18 in the first two periods before the Irish pressured Denver’s 6-foot-5 Swedish goalie Magnus Chrona with 14 third-period shots, 13 of which he turned aside on way to 18 saves. The Irish also were without grad defenseman and captain Nick Leivermann, who has an undisclosed injury.

“We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit,” Jackson said. “A couple of bad changes at some bad times. It happened a little bit to us last week (in a 5-3 exhibition loss to the U.S. Under-18 team). They’re all good kids – it’s going to take us a little time to jell.”

Coming off their ninth NCAA championship last spring in a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota State team which ended Notre Dame’s season in the Albany (N.Y.) Regional, the Pioneers outshot the Irish 22-12 in total shots, including 11-3 on goal in the first period.

Notre Dame didn’t help itself with two early tripping penalties. The Irish killed off the first one by Ben Brinkman, a grad transfer from Minnesota, thanks to two Bischel saves and a blocked shot by Jake Boltmann.

But with Rolston off for tripping at 11:37, Notre Dame wasn’t as fortunate. Bischel made three saves to start before Denver defenseman Shai Buium’s shot hit the pipe at 13:08. The puck rebounded to the stick of Dornbach, a senior transfer from Harvard, and he deposited it behind the Irish goalie at 13:09 for a 1-0 lead.

Notre Dame would get a power play later in the period at 14:00 when Denver’s Webster was whistled off for holding. But the Irish failed to get a shot at goalie Chrona, who wasn’t tested over the final 8:35 of the period.

The Pioneers continued their dominance in the Irish zone in the second period and forced another Irish penalty, a two-minute high-sticking call against Jake Boltmann at 4:01. Bischel made two saves to keep it a one-goal deficit.

Grad transfer (from Omaha) Chayse Primeau ended a 15:44 span of no shots on goal by Notre Dame when he forced Chrona to make a save at 7:09 of the second period. But the Irish parade to the penalty box continued a little over three minutes later when defenseman Ryan Helliwell was whistled off for interference at 10:16.

The Irish almost killed off the penalty, but Denver left wing Rieger Lorenz skated around Boltmann and fed the puck in the slot to Jack Devine, whose 20-footer beat Bischel at 12:10 for a 2-0 lead. 

The Irish went on the power play at 15:35 when Denver’s Sean Behrens went off for elbowing. It took the Irish just 23 seconds to get on the scoreboard when Rolston whipped off a quick shot which went off the inside of the post and behind Chrona at 15:58. Former Culver Military standout Jackson Pierson, a grad transfer from New Hampshire, started the play by getting the puck back to the point to defenseman Drew Bavaro, a junior transfer from Bentley. Bavaro then made a quick pass to Rolston for the one-timer from 40 feet.

But Denver again finished the period strong and added a goal in the final minute to take a 3-1 lead at the second-period intermission. The goal was scored by sophomore left wing Carter Mazur, who one-timed a 25-footer past Bischel at 19:20 after a pretty pass from Owen Ozar. It culminated another period of dominance by the Pioneers, who had 45 total shots, 21 of them on goal, to Notre Dame’s 23 and six. 

Notre Dame came out determined in the third period and cut the Denver lead back to one at 3:00. Right wing Tyler Carpenter started the play with a shot which Chrona turned aside. But the Denver goalie got caught out of goal when he collided with Irish center Solag Bakich, who shoveled the loose puck to Blackmun for an empty-net goal.

The Irish momentum continued after the goal and Denver’s Rieger Lorenz took a tripping penalty at 6:34. But the Pioneers killed off the penalty without allowing an Irish shot.

Notre Dame got another power play at 10:41 when Denver’s Mike Benning was called for holding at 10:41. Pierson’s shot was directed out by Chrona onto the stick of Rolston, who shot the puck wide. Then Trevor Janicke and Landon Slaggert both were denied by the Denver goalie and the Pioneers eventually killed off the penalty.

Denver got a power-play opportunity when Boltmann was sent off for tripping at 13:46. Fourteen seconds later, Pierson got a breakaway but Chrona stood his ground. The Pioneers then pressured Bischel, who made two big saves to keep it a one-goal deficit.

The Pioneers eventually got their two-goal lead back when Ozar went around an Irish defenseman and fed the puck to a breaking Webster for a goal at 16:21. The Irish called a timeout and pulled Bischel after the faceoff, but Denver got possession of the puck to Dornbach, who shot it into the vacated net at 17:06.

DENVER 5, NOTRE DAME 2

At Magness Arena, Denver

Notre Dame  0-1-1—2 

Denver           1-2-2—5        

First Period—Scoring: 1. Denver, Casey Dornbach 1 (Shai Buium, Massimo Rizzo) PP 13:09. Penalties: Notre Dame 2-4, Denver 1-2.

Second Period—Scoring: 2. Denver, Jack Devine 1 (Rieger Lorenz) PP 12:10. 3. Notre Dame, Ryder Rolston 1 (Drew Bavaro, Jackson Pierson) PP 15:58. 4. Denver, Carter Mazur 1 (Owen Ozar, Justin Lee) EV 19:20. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 2-4 (4-8), Denver 1-2 (2-4).

Third Period—Scoring: 5. Notre Dame, Chase Blackmun 1 (Solag Bakich, Tyler Carpenter) EV 3:00. 6. Denver, McKade Webster 1 (Owen Ozar, Connor Caponi) EV 16:21. 7. Denver, Casey Dornbach 2 (Carter King) EN 17:06. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (5-10), Denver 2-4 (4-8).

Shots on goal: Notre Dame 20 (3-3-14), Denver 27 (11-10-6). Goalie saves: Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 22 (10-8-4), Denver, Magnus Chrona 18 (3-2-13).

Power-play opportunities: Notre Dame 1 of 4, Denver 2 of 5. Faceoffs won: Notre Dame 29 (10-11-8), Denver 22 (5-6-11). Blocked shots: Notre Dame 13 (4-8-1), Denver 14 (3-6-5). 

Referees: Nathan Wieler and Joe Sullivan. Linesmen: Lucas Bisbee and John Grandt. Attendance: 5,859 (6,026). 

Records: Denver 1-0, Notre Dame 0-1.