Irish manage tie at Air Force but lose shootout 2-1

Tribune Staff
Air Force defenseman Sam Brennan, left, loses his stick as Notre Dame forward Landon Slaggert (19) checks him into the boards during the second period of an NCAA college hockey game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Air Force Academy, Colo. (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP)

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — A hockey preseason filled with plenty of hope suddenly has its share of questions for coach Jeff Jackson and No. 11/9 Notre Dame.

For the second straight night in the season-opening Ice Breaker Tournament, Notre Dame had trouble staying out of the penalty box and paid dearly. Following a 5-2 loss at defending NCAA champion and No. 1 Denver, Notre Dame dug itself another hole against unranked Air Force of the Atlantic Hockey Association.

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

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Despite a furious third-period comeback by the Irish who netted four goals to force a 5-5 overtime, coach Frank Serratore’s Falcons won the shootout 2-1 to send the Irish back home to Indiana with an 0-1-1 start to the 2022-23 season and with a lot of questions before their home non-conference series Friday and Sunday evenings against Northern Michigan. 

In addition to their inability to stay out of the penalty box – Notre Dame committed three penalties Saturday after five Friday night – and allowing five power-play goals in those eight attempts, Notre Dame managed to go just 1-for-4 with its own power play for the second straight night. 

Even as alarming, perhaps, is that senior goaltender Ryan Bischel struggled again, allowing three goals Saturday in the first 30 minutes before being pulled for freshman Jack Williams. Bischel, who surrendered four goals in Friday’s loss to the Pioneers, finished with 12 saves while Williams had 11.

A plus, however, was that the Irish battled back with four third-period goals against Air Force freshman goaltender Andrew Randazzo, who made 32 saves and then two more in the shootout. For Notre Dame, senior captain Trevor Janicke had a three-point night with a goal and two assists, junior Ryder Rolston had a goal and assist, and junior defenseman Drew Bavaro finished with two assists. Solag Bakich, Jake Boltmann and Zach Plucinski netted Notre Dame’s other goals. Nate Horn had a pair of goals for Air Force (0-1-1).

A night after Notre Dame struggled getting off shots against defending national champion Denver in the first two periods, the Fighting Irish and Falcons each had 11 shots on goal in the first period.

But once again, the Irish picked up an early penalty – a tripping call against defenseman Ben Brinkman at 6:59 – and paid for it on the scoreboard when Horn scored his first goal 20 seconds later off assists from Brandon Koch and Will Gavin.

The Falcons took a 3-0 lead with a pair of second-period goals in the first 9:23 to chase Bischel and bring in Williams. Horn scored his second power-play goal at 3:03 with Irish center Hunter Strand off the ice for tripping. Then defenseman Luke Rowe blasted a shot past Bischel at 9:23 for a 3-0 lead. 

During the media timeout at 10:08, Jackson switched goaltenders and the Irish got the message when Plucinski quickly cut the Air Force lead to 3-1 at 10:45. The Irish had another power-play chance at 15:33 with Air Force’s Andrew DeCarlo off the ice for high sticking but couldn’t get any shots on net to test Randazzo.

Then at 18:03, Brinkman picked up his second tripping penalty. With five seconds remaining, the Falcons’ Willie Reim won a faceoff back to defenseman Brandon Koch, whose blast beat Williams with two ticks left on the second-period clock for a 4-1 lead.

The Irish started their comeback when Bakich scored an unassisted goal at 6:17. Trevor Janicke followed with a power-play goal at 10:13 off assists from Bavaro and Rolston to make it 4-3. But 35 seconds later, it appeared the Falcons had stopped the Irish momentum when Bennett Nolin scored at 10:48.

But the Irish did not quit. Boltmann made it 5-4 when he deflected home the puck after feeds from Landon Slaggert and Trevor Janicke.

Air Force maintained the 5-4 lead until Jackson pulled Williams for an extra attacker at 18:13. Serratore called a timeout at 18:38. But 10 seconds after play resumed, Rolston one-timed a shot past Randazzo off assists by Bavaro and Jackson Pierson for his second goal of the season.

In the 3-on-3 overtime, neither team threatened though the Irish outshot the Falcons 3-1. After a brief timeout, the game went to a shootout. Pierson went first for Notre Dame and beat Randazzo, but Will Gavin answered for Air Force. Then Randazzo stopped Strand and Mitchell Digby scored for the Falcons for a 2-1 shootout lead. Randazzo then clinched the shootout win when he denied Notre Dame’s Jack Adams.

Top-ranked Denver captured the Ice Breaker Tournament title with a 3-1 victory over Maine.


(Air Force wins shootout 2-1)

At Cadet Ice Arena, Air Force Academy, Colo.

Notre Dame  0-1-4-0—5

Air Force        1-3-1-0—5     

First Period—Scoring: 1. Air Force, Nate Horn 1 (Brandon Koch, Will Gavin) PP 7:19. Penalties: Notre Dame 1-2, Air Force 0-0.

 Second Period—Scoring: 2. Air Force, Nate Horn 2 (Will Gavin, Willie Reim) PP 3:03. 3. Air Force, Luke Rowe 1 (unassisted) EV 9:23. 4. Notre Dame, Zach Plucinski 1 (Grant Silianoff, Trevor Janicke) EV 10:45. 5. Air Force, Brandon Koch 1 (Willie Reim) PP 19:58. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 2-4 (3-6), Air Force 2-4 (2-4).

Third Period—Scoring: 6. Notre Dame, Solag Bakich (unassisted) EV 6:17. 7. Notre Dame, Trevor Janicke 1 (Drew Bavaro, Ryder Rolston) PP 10:13. 8. Air Force, Bennett Norlin (Lucas Coon) EV 10:48. 9. Notre Dame, Jake Boltmann 1 (Landon Slaggert, Trevor Janicke) EV 11:50. 10. Notre Dame, Ryder Rolston 2 (Drew Bavaro, Jackson Pierson) EX 18:48. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 0-0 (3-6), Air Force 2-4 (4-8).

Overtime—Scoring: None. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 0-0 (3-6), Air Force 0-0 (4-8).

 Shootout—Jackson Pierson (ND) score, Will Gavin (AF) score, Hunter Strand (ND) miss (save Aaron Randazzo), Mitchell Digby (AF) score, Jack Adams (ND) miss (save Randazzo). Air Force wins 2-1.

Shots on goal: Notre Dame 37 (11-10-13-3), Air Force 29 (11-8-9-1). Goalie saves: Notre Dame (23), Ryan Bischel 12 (10-2-x-x) and Jack Williams 11 (x-2-8-1). Air Force (32), Aaron Randazzo 32 (11-9-9-3).

Power-play opportunities: Notre Dame 1 of 4, Air Force 3 of 3. Faceoffs won: Notre Dame 40 (12-12-13-3), Air Force 50 (13-18-15-4). Blocked shots: Notre Dame 10 (4-3-1-2), Air Force 19 (4-7-6-2). 

Referees: Ryan Sweeney and Brendan Blanchard. Linesmen: Chase McGee and Michael Trzeciak. Attendance: 2,473 (2,502). Records: Notre Dame 0-1-1, Air Force 0-1-1.