SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Grant Goeckner-Zoeller scored two goals and the Princeton Tigers got a 34-save effort from goaltender B.J. Slapsky to ruin Notre Dame’s home opener with a 5-3 win at the Joyce Center on Friday night.
Princeton got single goals from Patrick Neundorfer, Erik Pridham and Kyle Hagel to offset the second two-goal game of senior right wing Tim Wallace’s career and junior center Josh Sciba’s second goal in as many games as the Irish fall to 0-3-0 on the season. For Princeton, the season-opening win makes the Tigers 1-0 on the year.
The loss extends Notre Dame’s winless skid to 22 games (0-20-2) as the Irish have not won since Jan. 2 of last season.
The Irish dominated the game in the first period, out shooting Princeton by a 17-2 margin on the way to a 37-13 edge for the entire game.
Geockner-Zoeller got the Tigers on the board first when he beat David Brown from the bottom of the left-wing circle at the 8:01 mark of the opening period.
Notre Dame evened the game at 1-1 just 10 seconds later when Wallace got his first of the game at 8:11 off a face off to the right of Slapsky. Mark Van Guilder won the draw to Wallace at the hash marks and he whipped a shot past the Tiger goaltender for his first of the season.
Wallace would give the Irish their only lead of the night at 5:07 of the second period. Senior Matt Amado broke up a Tiger pass at the Notre Dame blue line and raced to the right side deep into the Princeton zone where he pulled up at the right wing circle. He found Wallace in the slot and the senior snapped a shot behind Slapsky for the 2-1 lead.
From there, the Irish lost their momentum when Goeckner-Zoeller scored his second of the night and first on the power play at 7:06 to even the score at 2-2.
“We made a couple of mistakes and they were in the net,” said Irish coach Jeff Jackson following the game.
“We imploded. We started turning the puck over, giving up odd-man rushes. The whole game turned around.”
Princeton took the lead just 21 seconds later when an errant drop pass at the Notre Dame blue line turned into a three-on-one for the Tigers.
Kevin Westgarth’s (three assists) shot from the top of the right-wing circle was stopped by Brown but the rebound landed on Neundorfer’s stick at the bottom of the left circle. He wasted little time depositing the puck behind the Irish goaltender for a power-play goal, his first of the year at 7:27.
The lead would go to 4-2 at 12:20 when Erik Pridham and Christian Read combined on a two-on-one to beat Brown. The Tigers scored three times in the period on just seven shots for the two-goal lead.
In the third period, Notre Dame came out strong and poured 14 more shots on the Princeton goal but only scored once.
Sciba cut the lead to 4-3 just 3:56 into the final period when he tucked the rebound of a Erik Condra behind Slapsky for his second goal of the season.
That would be as close as the Irish would get as Princeton picked up an insurance goal at 18:31 as Kyle Hagel scored from in front for his first of the season and the final of 5-3.
“I was pleased with the way we played in the first and third period. I was even pleased with the first and last five minutes of the second period,” said Jackson.
“For 10 minutes, we forgot how to play hockey. Our turnovers weren’t the results of playing aggressive; they were the result of playing stupid. I take full responsibility for it. We talked before the game about playing 60 minutes. I forgot to remind them for the second period. They fell asleep in the locker room.
On the night, Princeton was 2-for-7 on the power play while the Irish were 0-for-10. Brown finished the night with eight saves.
The two teams meet again on Saturday night at the Joyce Center.