Game No. 1,000 for UAH varsity hockey came close to being one of the program’s all-time upsets. While it came short of that, it did show that this Chargers team could have the tools to withstand some tough situations.
UAH never let No. 8 Notre Dame out of its sights on Friday, but the Chargers lost 5-3 in South Bend in the season opener for both teams.
Tyler Poulsen scored two goals for UAH in the see-saw affair, which saw the Chargers have a lead throughout a bulk of the second period.
Notre Dame had advantages in shots on goal (40-28) and particularly faceoffs (41-22). UAH senior goaltender Jordan Uhelski did his job to keep the upset chance alive with all the pressure around him, making 35 saves.
It was up and down for the first half of the first period, but the Fighting Irish asserted control in the second half. Notre Dame was able to get several close-range shots on Uhelski, who was up to the task with 16 saves in the period.
The Chargers were able to get nine shots on goal on Irish sophomore goalie Cale Morris, with Brennan Saulnier getting a couple to keep him on his toes.
The second period is when things went crazy, with six of the eight goals being scored and each team getting three.
Bobby Nardella finished off a power play from Brandon Parker’s hooking call late in the first to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead just 12 seconds in.
If you thought that may open the floodgates for the Irish, you were quickly corrected. UAH answered right back as Poulsen scored the Chargers’ first goal of the season just 36 seconds later, redirecting a Saulnier shot from the right circle.
Notre Dame quickly retook the lead at 3:01, with Colin Theisen splitting the defense and wristing the puck over Uhelski.
UAH bounced right back yet again. Josh Kestner tipped a Hans Gorowsky backhander through the slot, fooling Morris as the puck passed to his right and in the net. Levi Wunder got the second assist for his first collegiate point.
In a span of 4:44, four goals were scored and the game was tied at 2-2.
After Nardella was called for hooking during a Kestner breakaway, UAH notched its first power play goal and lead of the season. Kestner had a nifty backdoor pass to Poulsen, who wrapped the puck around an open net as the Chargers took a 3-2 lead at the 7:17 mark.
Notre Dame tied it up at 3-3 with 1:30 left in the second when Dennis Gilbert’s right point blast through traffic beat Uhelski.
In the third, the Irish regained the lead on their second power play goal. Connor James was called for high sticking at 5:30, and just 20 seconds later, Jake Evans tipped a Jordan Gross shot to make it 4-3 Irish.
The Irish went 2-for-5 on the power play Friday, as the penalty killing struggles seemed to continue from last season.
The Chargers had a big chance to tie it up before regulation. Gilbert was called for slashing with 1:06 left, and with Uhelski already pulled for an extra attacker, UAH had a 6-on-4 advantage. However, Evans was able to clear the puck down the length of the ice for a shorthanded empty net goal for the final 5-3 score.
Game two of the series is at 6:05 p.m. CDT, and can be seen online at NBCSports.com.