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Sept. 22, 1997

Irish Miss Postseason in a Near-Miss Season

Steve Noble photo
Junior co-captain Steve Noble was named a GTE/CoSIDA second team Academic All American. (File photo)

After dropping a pair of crucial games at Ohio State during the first week of February, the Notre Dame hockey team headed into its final five games of the season still holding out hopes for a berth in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association postseason tournament.

The Irish dropped their next two games, at No. 1 Michigan (3-1 and 6-1), but returned home to post an emotional 5-4 overtime win over Western Michigan, with sophomore Neal Johnson netting the game-winner.

The Irish and WMU played the next day in Kalamazoo, where the Broncos ended Notre Dame's postseason hopes with a 6-1 win. The season ended with a 3-2 loss to Michigan State, Notre Dame's 12th one-goal loss of a near-miss season.

Several Notre Dame players garnered postseason honors, led by junior co-captain Steve Noble, who capped an award-filled spring by being named a GTE/CoSIDA second team Academic All American. Noble earlier had been named to the seven-player CCHA All-Academic team before being presented with the CCHA's 1997 Terry Flanagan Award, which recognizes a letterwinner who has overcome personal adversity to achieve success, both on and off the ice. Noble, who had major back surgery in the summer of 1994, has played in 106 of 107 games during his Irish career while maintaining a 3.98 GPA as a finance major.

Joe Dusbabek photo
Freshaman Joe Dusbabek was named to the CCHA all-rookie team. (File photo)

Freshman forward Joe Dusbabek became the first Notre Dame player named to the six-man CCHA all-rookie team since 1992-93, after sharing the team scoring lead with sophomore Brian Urick (both players totaled 13 goals and 12 assists). A pair of freshmen linemates on the Irish defense - Tyson Fraser and Nate Borega - received honorable mention all-rookie honors from the CCHA, making Notre Dame's the league's only school with three players that received all-rookie team honors.

Junior goaltender Matt Eisler concluded a stellar season in which he posted a 3.65 goals against average that ranks sixth-best in Irish history and second-best by a Notre Dame netminder in the last 20 years. Eisler's .885 season save percentage ties for fourth in the Irish record book and stands as the best mark at Notre Dame since 1977.

The solid play of Eisler and the addition of talented group of freshmen defensemen yielded a noticeably improved defensive unit for the Irish in 1996-97. Notre Dame ranked fourth in the CCHA for penalty killing percentage, sliced its team GAA from 4.36 in 1995-96 to 3.74 and committed nearly three fewer penalties per game than during 1995-96.

Matt Eisler photo
Junior goaltender Matt Eisler concluded a stellar season for the Irish. (File photo)

Among Notre Dame's season highlights were a pair of early wins at perennial power Bowling Green (7-5 and 5-3) and a midseason win over then-#8 St. Cloud State (5-2).

The Irish are set to lose just five players off their 1996-97 roster: backup goaltender Erik Berg, forwards Terry Lorenz and Tim Harberts, defenseman Ben Nelson and defenseman/forward Brian McCarthy. With another top-notched recruiting class ready to join the fold, Notre Dame next season is set to return 22 players who accounted for 77 percent of the assists during the 1996-97 season.

A pair of Irish freshman forwards -- Ben Simon and Dusbabek -- both were selected in the 1997 NHL entry draft, as were incoming Irish players Jay Kopischke and Ryan Clark, tying Notre Dame with Boston College as the colleges with the most players selected in the '97 draft. The Irish and Eagles will face off next season at the Joyce Center on Oct. 24, the night before the schools will meet in football across the street at Notre Dame Stadium.

Event Calendar

Delta

October 1
5:05 PM
USNTDP
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
October 6
7:35 PM
Alabama-Huntsville
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
October 7
7:05 PM
Alabama-Huntsville
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
October 13
7:35 PM
Denver
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
October 14
7:05 PM
Denver
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
October 19
7:35 PM
Sacred Heart
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
October 20
7:35 PM
Sacred Heart
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
October 26
7:35 PM
Nebraska-Omaha
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
October 27
7:35 PM
Nebraska-Omaha
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
November 3
7:05 PM
Ohio State
Columbus, OH (Value City Arena)
November 4
7:05 PM
Ohio State
Columbus, OH (Value City Arena)
November 10
7:35 PM
Penn State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
November 11
7:05 PM
Penn State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
November 17
7:05 PM
RPI
Troy, NY (Houston Field House)
November 18
7:05 PM
RPI
Troy, NY (Houston Field House)
November 24
7:35 PM
Minnesota
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
November 25
7:05 PM
Minnesota
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
December 1
7:05 PM
Michigan State
East Lansing, MI (Munn Ice Arena)
December 2
7:05 PM
Michigan State
East Lansing, MI (Munn Ice Arena)
December 8
8:05 PM
Wisconsin
Madison, WI (LaBahn Arena)
December 9
8:05 PM
Wisconsin
Madison, WI (LaBahn Arena)
January 5
7:05 PM
Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI (Yost Ice Arena)
January 7
5:05 PM
Michigan
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
January 19
7:35 PM
Wisconsin
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
January 20
7:05 PM
Wisconsin
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
January 26
8:05 PM
Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN (Mariucci Arena)
January 27
8:05 PM
Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN (Mariucci Arena)
February 2
7:05 PM
Penn State
State College, PA (Pegula Ice Arena)
February 3
7:05 PM
Penn State
State College, PA (Pegula Ice Arena)
February 9
7:35 PM
Ohio State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
February 10
7:05 PM
Ohio State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
February 16
7:35 PM
Michigan
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
February 18
5:05 PM
Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI (Yost Ice Arena)
February 23
7:35 PM
Michigan State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
February 24
7:05 PM
Michigan State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)
March 2
TBA
Big Ten Tournament First Round
Campus Sites
March 10
TBA
Big Ten Tournament Semifinals
Campus Sites
March 17
TBA
Big Ten Tournament Championship
Campus Sites
March 23
TBA
NCAA Regional
Regional Sites
April 5
TBA
NCAA Frozen Four
St. Paul, MN (Xcel Energy Center)
April 7
TBA
NCAA Championship
St. Paul, MN (Xcel Energy Center)

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