Notre Dame squeezed every last drop of preseason hockey out of its one exhibition game at Compton Family Ice Arena Sunday night. The Irish needed all five rounds of a shootout to eke out a 2-1 win over the United States Under-18 National Development team.
Junior Bryan Rust scored a shootout goal to push Notre Dame to a win its first game of the season.
The two teams played to a 1-1 tie after regulation and a five-minute overtime period, giving the Irish a chance to get a look at their best options for future shootouts. Head coach Jeff Jackson gave a couple of his talented freshman a chance to show off their moves, but it was a pair of upperclassmen — juniors T.J. Tynan and Bryan Rust — who scored to give Notre Dame the win.
Senior goaltender Mike Johnson stopped four of five attempts from the U.S. team and eight of nine shots during regulation play after taking over midway through the game for junior Steven Summerhays. Junior David Gerths scored Notre Dame’s only goal in regulation, Tynan slipped one through the five hole and Rust finished the game with a nifty move to beat U.S. goalie Thatcher Demko.
“I’ve been working on it in practice a lot,” Rust said. “I faked the shot, kind of make the goalie bite a little. I turn my whole body to my backhand then try to make a hard cut to the forehand, and there was the open net.”
There wasn’t a whole lot to pull fans out of their seats prior to Rust’s well-choreographed game winner. The Irish spent most of the first 65 minutes of hockey working out kinks in their lineup and trying to build some energy for the first time this season.
What will likely become Notre Dame’s grind line as the regular season unfolds — Gerths, senior Nick Larson and junior Mike Voran — provided a spark for their teammates in the third period. They punched in a goal with six minutes remaining in regulation when Voran found Gerths wide open in the slot with plenty of time to find a hole behind Demko.
“I thought that line was pretty good and gave us some energy,” head coach Jeff Jackson said. “They played together as freshmen, and they changed the momentum a little bit in the game for us.”
Jackson sorted through several line combinations late in the game to try to get a look at some of his younger or more inexperienced players in a live game situation. Freshmen forwards Thomas DiPauli, Stephen Fogarty and Sam Herr all got a chance to earn a spot in future lineups and on the Irish special teams units.
Notre Dame finished 0-for-4 on the power play and kept the U.S. team off the scoreboard on two penalty kills. Jackson said he was most impressed with DiPauli on the penalty kill.
Sophomore Peter Schneider generated a few chances for the Notre Dame offense early on and ripped a shot off a post in the second period. He had two goals and four assists as a rookie last year and is expected to be a bigger part of the offense while skating along side team captain Anders Lee this season.
“I want to take a look at him and put him in some offensive situations because he’s got good skills and he’s got a good shot. He has a history of scoring goals and I want to try to get him into it,” Jackson said.
Shane Eiserman scored the U.S.’s regulation goal one minute into the final period on a one-time pass from Michael McCarron. Notre Dame will get to see plenty of Eiserman down the road. He’s committed to play for Hockey East foe New Hampshire in the future.
Notre Dame has typically picked up a few recruits from the national team, including DiPauli and Rust, which Jackson helped build a decade ago. This year’s roster has two players verbally committed to South Bend. Right wing Kevin Labanc got into the box score against his future team with a roughing penalty in the third. Dawson Cook, also committed to the Irish, did not suit up Sunday.
Notre Dame, with only two official team practices under its belt, now has five days to finalize its lineup before starting the regular season at the Ice Breaker Tournament in Kansas City next weekend. The team’s first game is Friday night against No. 15 Maine.