Ryan Bennett hadn’t played a college hockey game in a year and a half. After transferring from Lake Superior State, Bennett had to sit an entire year before stepping on the ice for Nebraska-Omaha.
But in his Maverick debut, Bennett scored his first goal late in the second period, sparking a spirited comeback attempt by UNO against Notre Dame.
Down 4-2 going into third, UNO attempted 29 shots to Notre Dame’s six. The Mavericks put 18 shots on goal. They threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Irish goalie Morgan Cey, but Cey clogged the pipes, stopping 17 of the 18 shots, and the Irish held on to topple UNO 5-3 to earn two points Friday night in Omaha.
“Clearly a sense of urgency sparked that,” UNO coach Mike Kemp said. “We were being outplayed in the first two periods, and from the time [Bennett] scored was a rallying point for us. We didn’t get rewarded with the goals when we had the opportunity.”
“We showed in the third period we could play with these guys,” Maverick winger Joe Pereira said. “Getting behind in these games is killing us. We’re not a team that wants to play from behind, and we’re getting a pretty good reputation of doing that.”
UNO has scored the first goal in just six of its 18 games this season.
Rob Globke scored back-to-back goals, one in the first, one in the second, and John Wroblewski dunked an empty-netter to cap the game for Notre Dame.
The Irish jumped on UNO from the beginning. Yan Stastny opened the scoring at 7:19 of the first period. Globke extended the lead to 2-0 by finishing off a tic-tac-toe 2-on-1.
Globke’s second goal at 6:32 of the second period put the Irish up 3-0.
Just 26 seconds later, the Mavericks got on the board when Mike Lefley found a hole through a block of traffic.
Dan Ellis never saw the deciding goal, credited to Irish forward Tom Galvin. The power-play goal found the back of the net when an Aaron Gill rising wrister hit Galvin in the back and deflected in. Galvin was credited with the winner without ever getting a stick on it.
“It was good traffic, I don’t even know who it hit,” Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin said. “Ellis is a good goalie and you have to get traffic in front of a good goalie.”
Bennett got his first goal on the backhand while falling to the ice to make the game 4-2. The goal sparked the Maverick comeback that ultimately fell short.
Cey made 30 of 33 saves and Ellis stopped 21 of 25 shots. Cey improved to 3-1 at the Civic Auditorium, dating back to Notre Dame’s three-game playoff win last season.
“I get nervous here, even sick to my stomach,” Cey said. “But I really get up for the game. UNO came out hard in the third and we feel fortunate to get the two points.”
UNO was playing without its leading defenseman and the school’s third all-time leading scorer. Greg Zanon had surgical work done on his knee during the break.
“To some extent it affected us in a sense that you’re losing your inspirational leader,” Kemp said.