By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
Starting a college career between the pipes against a nationally ranked program is a lot to ask of any freshman. But in the championship of the Ice Breaker tournament in Kansas City, UNO called on the highly touted Anthony Stolarz to do just that.
The newcomer rewarded the Mavs with a performance worthy of his second round draft pick in the NHL entry draft last spring. Stolarz stopped 23 of 26 shots against no. 14 Notre Dame, but a cruel bounce on the first shot of the game doomed the Mavs to a 3-2 defeat and dropped UNO to 1-1 on the season.
The previous night Zahn Raubenheimer and Johnnie Searfoss recorded multi point games to lead UNO 5-1 past Army. Raubenheimer scored as many points in just under 25 minutes of game time as he did all of last season.
“His reputation and his past performances last year have proven he can play at this level, or I should say, gives us a good idea he can play at this level,” Assistant Coach Steve Johnson said about Stolarz. “[He] played well tonight and [you] could say [he] was victimized by a bad bounce on the one. But for the most part he played solid and looked like he was in control.”
Just 1:14 into the game, Notre Dame captain Anders Lee dumped a puck into the zone that ricocheted out in the air to the front of the Maverick net. Teammate Peter Schneider was in the right place at the right time.
The puck glanced off Schneider’s body and past Stolarz for a 1-0 Notre Dame lead. Defenseman Michael Young tied it 1-1 midway through the first, but Notre Dame scored the next two goals at 15:56 of the first and 12:45 of the second.
Andrej Sustr’s goal late in the second closed the gap to 3-2. But in the third the Notre Dame defense clamped down, allowing a game low seven shots and stopping the Mavs on their one power play chance for the 3-2 win.
UNO outshot Notre Dame 30-26, but went 0-for-5 on the power play. Had it not been for Stolarz’s strong start, the Mavs may have been down 3-1 or 4-1, and out of the game in just the first period.
Turnovers in the defensive zone forced Stolarz to come up big on a breakaway and on open shots from right on the doorstep.
“Sometimes, I don’t know, it just happens, stuff goes sloppy,” Sustr said about the defensive troubles of the first period. “I think we picked it up once the game went on and I think it got better each period.”
UNO gave up 13 Irish shots in the first period but limited Notre Dame to just seven in the second and six in the third. The Mavs also stopped the Irish on both power play chances.
“I’m very happy with how he played,” Brock Montpetit said about Stolarz. “First start against Notre Dame in the Ice Breaker championship it’s a big weight for an 18, 19-year-old kid. But he came out to ready to play.”
The night before it was Raubenheimer who came out to play, and maybe to make up for a poor sophomore season. Raubenheimer led off the scoring on a first period power play, and added two assists later in the night.
The first line combination of Raubenheimer, Montpetit and sophomore Dominic Zombo pumped in five of the team’s 13 points. UNO’s other four goals were spread between newcomer Nick Seeler, senior defenseman Bryce Aneloski, junior Johnnie Searfoss and captain Matt White.
Army scored its lone goal on the power play, a deflection off the body of Aneloski. The Mavs outshot the Black Knights 38-18 and went 1-for-4 on the power play.
“Tonight’s game was a real hard fought, physical game,” Johnson said about the loss to Notre Dame. “I thought for the most part, this point in the season, the guys played real hard, played well and it was a good performance by a good majority of our guys tonight.”
Despite failing to capture the Ice Breaker tournament and leaving Kansas City with a 1-1 record, Montpetit agreed and said there was a lot to like about the weekend.
“I’m happy with how the team played,” Brock Montpetit said. “[When] we played our exhibition against Lethbridge we kind of let down the second and third period and [we] were kind of worried coming into the weekend with how our team would compete against Division I American teams. We came out [against] Army strong, beat them 5-1. Tonight we were playing a very good Notre Dame team who I’m guessing will make it deep into the playoffs. If we play like that all year I think we’ll have a really good season.”