Compton opens with win
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Leave it to one of the best goal scorers in the country to open a new arena in fantastic style.
Anders Lee scored three goals for the second hat trick of his career as Notre Dame captured a 5-2 victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the first ever game at the Compton Family Ice Arena on Friday.
The Irish (3-2-0) played in front of 5,022 fans, the biggest hockey crowd in Notre Dame and South Bend history. The previous mark was 4,816 in 1973.
“That was a blast,” Lee said. “I think it was fun for everyone. It was a great way to start opening the building out there. That was real exciting to see everyone out there.”
Rather than falling behind as it had in three of its first four game Notre Dame staked itself to a lead when Lee scored his first goal at 9:21 of the first period. Beautiful passing from T.J. Tynan and Sam Calabrese left Lee with little to do other than chip the puck past RPI goaltender Bryce Merriam.
RPI (1-4-0) tied the game at 13:25 of the first when Joel Malchuk scored his second goal of the season. It came on an attempt from behind the net that Irish goalie Mike Johnson never saw.
Lee scored again just over a minute into the second period, giving the Irish a 2-1 lead on assists from Tynan and Calabrese again. Tynan now has nine assists on the season but left the game with about three minutes to go with an unspecified injury.
Head coach Jeff Jackson declined to give any details other than it appears to be a minor set back for his sophomore center.
“I don’t think it’s overly serious,” Jackson said. “I just have to play it by ear.”
Defenseman Sean Lorenz padded the Notre Dame lead at 14:37 of the second period when he stuck with a loose puck in the slot and flipped it past Merriam for his second goal of the season. It led to a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
Center Riley Sheahan made it a 4-1 game at 1:39 of the third period with his first goal of the season. With the Irish on a power play, Sheahan cut loose a shot from the point that found its mark.
“He played exceptional,” Jackson said. “The thing that he impressed me the most was it wasn’t just about when he had the puck. When he didn’t have the puck, his effort coming back and getting the puck on transition. He did an excellent job on back pressure.”
RPI cut into the three-goal deficit at 15:36 of the third period when Johnny Rogic scored his first goal of the season. After the goal, however, the Engineers took a penalty that almost led to Lee’s power play earlier than it ended up happening.
A big rebound leaving the puck in the air put Lee in a position to swat it down with his stick and score with under four minutes left in the game. But on the ice officials waved the tally off on account of a high stick.
After consulting video replay the call was upheld and the goal waved off.
Turned out it didn’t matter as Lee put in an empty-net goal at the 18:40 mark to make it a 5-2 final. It was Lee’s eighth goal of the season in just five games and christened Compton in fine fashion.
“It’s been special,” Lee said. “(I’m) just trying to make plays and capitalize on my opportunities. T.J. and Bryan (Rust) are playing great and the rest of the team is too. Finally now we’re kinda getting our feet under us and playing well. I’m getting the bounces right now. They’re not all pretty. I’m just trying to put shots on net and make things happen.”