NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The wait between games at the Joyce Center was nearly 24 years for Minnesota Duluth.
The Bulldog men played Notre Dame on Feb. 9-10, 1980 when both were members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
Thirty goals were scored in a UMD sweep in a high-scoring era.
There weren’t nearly as many Thursday night as the college men’s season opened for a pair of teams coming off NCAA Division I appearances.
Goaltending and a dizzying number of power plays (23) combined to produce a 2-2 overtime tie as the Bulldogs rallied on Tim Stapleton’s man-advantage goal with 7:33 left in regulation. Notre Dame was outshot 40-27, yet was held in the game by senior goalie Morgan Cey and never trailed in the game as the Fighting Irish stretched their home regular-season unbeaten streak to 15 games (13-0-2) before a slight crowd of 1,325.
The start to UMD’s 61st season was highlighted by a battle of star goalies. The Bulldogs, who were second in Division I in scoring and power-play percentage last season on the way to the Frozen Four, connected just once in 12 man-advantage shifts.
UMD junior Isaac Reichmuth had 25 stops, including one following a steal by Notre Dame center Matt Amado with 3:20 left in overtime.
Notre Dame had its best season in school history in 2003-04, going 20-15-4 and getting to the NCAA playoffs for the first time, losing to Minnesota in the Midwest Regional semifinals.
The Fighting Irish are ranked just fifth among 12 teams in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association this season. UMD is the favorite in the WCHA after a 28-13-4 record.
It took just 34 seconds of the new season before the promised NCAA crackdown on obstruction tactics to begin. UMD defenseman Todd Smith was called for interference.
The Fighting Irish went up 1-0 in a 4-on-4 shift at 7:05 of the opening period on winger Josh Sciba’s close-range attempt. UMD tied it just more than three minutes later as Brett Hammond centered the puck from the endboards and winger Josh Miskovich scored from the right circle.
The second period was a survival test for UMD because of penalties. The Bulldogs were shorthanded for seven straight minutes, included in that was two minutes of a two-man Notre Dame advantage.
The Fighting Irish managed just one goal during that time, scoring 5-on-3, by center Cory McLean from the left circle with six minutes left in the period.
UMD’s troubles started when freshman winger Mike Curry was called for a 5-minute elbow major on a hit on Notre Dame’s Matt Amado, and a slashing major. Eighty-three seconds later defenseman Neil Petruic received a cross-checking penalty.
Reichmuth had to be sharp in the elongated Notre Dame power play. After the Fighting Irish went up 2-1, they still had 4:58 left with a man advantage and Reichmuth stopped Note Dame’s Tim Wallace from point-blank range as two minutes remained on his toughest save.
Cey faced 57 seconds of a UMD power-play to open the third period and 3:02 of a power play just moments later. The Bulldogs had 20 shots on goal in the third period and Stapleton finally did connect on a power-play rebound to get even as UMD was on a five-minute man advantage.
UMD had to survive a Notre Dame power play in sudden death when Stapleton was called for hooking.
Notre Dame opened 2002-03 with a win and a tie at the DECC, and both teams were in the 2004 NCAA Division I Midwest Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Kevin Pates is a staff writer for the Duluth News Tribune.