The no. 10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish ended their semester break on Saturday evening, welcoming the Niagara Purple Eagles to Compton Family Ice Arena. The Irish entered the contest as huge favorites against the 4-10-2 Purple Eagles, who were outscored 20-4 in their four matchups against Big Ten teams prior to Saturday’s series opener.
It may have been some rust after not playing in three weeks, but the Irish struggled in the opening period. The first penalty of the evening was called on Niagara’s Luke Edgerton, however a hooking call on Solag Bakich turned it into a 4-on-4 before the Irish could capitalize. With just over five minutes to go in the opening period, Jason Pineo’s first of the season opened the scoring for the Purple Eagles.
Despite a pair of penalties in the second, the Irish got on the board thanks to a short-handed goal by Spencer Stastney. It was the third goal of the season for the 2018 draft pick of the Nashville Predators. However, the Purple Eagles took the lead back when Albin Nilsson found the back of the net with just over six minutes in the period.
Stastney's first career short-handed goal knots it at 1.— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) January 1, 2022
: @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/pQK1piSvx5
Near the midway point of the final frame, the Irish went on the power-play with a chance to tie the contest, but could only get two shots on net that were saved by Chad Veltri. Matthew Galajda was pulled with 30 second left, before an empty-netter by Nilsson put the game away for Niagara by a final score of 3-1 in front of a stunned Notre Dame crowd.
Niagara: Jason Pineo at 14:44 in the 1st, assisted by Chris Harpur and Oliver Gauthier
Notre Dame: Spencer Stastney (SHG) at 03:52 in the 2nd
Niagara: Albin Nilsson at 13:38 in the 2nd, assisted by Jon Hill and Jordan Wishman
Niagara: Albin Nilsson (ENG) at 18:35 in the 3rd
Niagara: Luke Edgerton for slashing at 04:14 in the 1st
Notre Dame: Solag Bakich for hooking at 05:46 in the 1st
Niagara: Shane Ott for tripping at 17:07 in the 1st
Notre Dame: Justin Janicke for tripping at 2:19 in the 2nd
Notre Dame: Jake Boltmann for interference at 6:56 in the 2nd
Notre Dame: Justin Janicke for slashing at 2:56 in the 3rd
Niagara: Albin Nilsson for hooking at 9:00 in the 3rd
Notre Dame: Matthew Galajda, 25 saves
Niagara: Chad Veltri, 27 saves
The Irish will conclude their non-conference series with Niagara on Sunday, January 2, at 5:00 PM ET. The game can be streamed on Peacock.