No. 8 Notre Dame rallies for 4-3 win over Air Force

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. Eighth-ranked Notre Dame rallied from a two-goal deficit for a 4-3 win over Air Force in a non-conference college hockey game, Friday, Oct. 11, at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Ind. The game was the season opener for both teams.

Air Force (0-1-0) took the early lead when Alex Mehnert gained the red line and sent the puck around the boards. The puck took a strange bounce off the wall and ended up right in front of the net where senior Brady Tomlak buried it into the open net for a 1-0 lead at 7:55. Jake Levin also assisted on the play. The Falcons took a 2-0 lead at 17:02 on a flurry in front of Irish freshman goalie Ryan Bischel. Shots by Blake Bride and Kieran Durgan were saved, but senior Matt Pulver slid the rebound around the pad of Bischel for the two-goal lead.

Notre Dame (1-0-0) scored twice in the second period to tie the game. Just over five minutes into the second period, Colin Theisen redirected a shot by Mike O’Leary to get the Irish on the board. The Irish tied the game at 13:22 on a 2-on-1 rush. Michael Graham gained the zone down the right side and Alex Steeves tipped in the centering pass.

The Irish took its first lead of the game at 5:03 of the third period when Cam Morrison put back a rebound of Steeves’ shot. With 2:13 left in the third, the Falcons pulled the goalie in favor of the extra attacker with the faceoff in the offensive zone. The Irish won the faceoff and Cal Burke’s shot from his own blue line slid into the empty net for a 4-2 ND lead. The Falcons pulled the goalie again with 1:30 remaining and, with 0.1 seconds left, Pulver netted his second of the game to make up the final score. Tomlak and Trevor Stone assisted on Pulver’s goal from the bottom of the right circle.

Air Force outshot Notre Dame, 36-29, in the game. The Falcons were 0-for-3 on the power play while ND was 0-for-4. Zach LaRocque, in his fifth career start, made 25 saves. Bischel, in his first career start, made 33 for the Irish.

“To have a two-goal lead and not get it done is very disappointing,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “The boys battled hard and their attitude, commitment and coachability has been terrific but we didn’t play our best game tonight. We have some work to do. Notre Dame is a good team and one that will contend for a national title and they found a way to win. Good teams do that.”

Air Force and Notre Dame conclude the two-game series on Sunday, Oct. 13, at 3:05 pm ET in South Bend, Ind.