January 3, 1997

No. 4 Miami Rallies To Beat Notre Dame

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Marc Tropper, C.J. Buzzell and Randy Robitaille each scored in the third period, lifting No. 4 Miami University to a 6-3 comeback victory over the University of Notre Dame in Central Collegiate Hockey Association action Friday in front of a sellout crowd at the Joyce Center (2,667).

Miami (17-5-0, 11-2-0 CCHA) extended its lead in the league standings to three points ahead of second-place Michigan and four points ahead of Michigan State and Lake Superior (all of which were idle on Friday). This is the latest in the season that Miami has led in the CCHA since the Redskins captured the title in 1993.

Notre Dame (5-13-1, 4-9-1) bounced back from an early deficit to claim a 3-1 lead in the opening minutes of the second period. But the Irish could not hold off the visitors, who tied the game with two goals in a span of 33 seconds midway through the second period before Tropper netted the game-winner on the power-play early in the third. Buzzell then scored unassisted with 4:29 remaining and Robitaille netted his fifth shorthanded goal of the season (tying the Miami record) with three minutes to play.

The Irish played minus two of their regulars. Freshman center Ben Simon was busy Friday helping the U.S. junior national team post a 5-2 victory over the Czech Republic in the World Junior Hockey Championships (held in Geneva, Switzerland). The U.S. - already assured of its best finish ever at the World Juniors - will face defending champion Canada in the gold medal game Saturday (the teams played to a 4-4 tie earlier in the week). Simon is one of 15 college players and four CCHA players on the U.S. team.

Notre Dame also was without freshman defenseman Sean Molina, who did not dress due to a shoulder injury suffered in the Dec. 29 game at Princeton.

Friday marked the ninth straight game that Notre Dame has failed to score more than three goals but the Irish did manage to top the season goals-against average of Miami goaltender Trevor Prior (2.18, best in the nation).

Senior Tom White gave Miami an early lead when he tipped in a slapshot from defenseman Josh Mizerek at the 1:34 mark, but the Irish answered four minutes later on the powerplay, when junior Lyle Andrusiak poked home a rebounded shot by freshman defenseman Tyson Fraser (5:30).

The Irish surged ahead at the 13:10 mark of the first period when freshman Joe Dusbabek intercepted an attempted clear between the circles and beat Prior with a quick shot. The hosts then went ahead 3-1 early in the second when freshman defenseman Sean Seyferth sent home a slapshot from the left point.

Dusbabek's score was his eighth of the season (tying him with sophomore Brian Urick for the team lead) and ended a personal six-game goalless drought while Seyferth scored for the second time in three games.

Miami junior Tim Leahy cut into the Irish lead with his team-leading 16th goal of the season on a goal that was initiated by a blast from the blue line by freshman defenseman Josh Mizerek. Notre Dame sophomore goalie Forrest Karr blocked the shot near the right post but Miami freshman Gregor Krajnc collected the loose pluck and slid it to the top of the crease for Leahy, who quickly redirected the puck past Karr (6:53).

The visitors gained the equalizer just 35 seconds later, as junior Joe Bodnar gathered in the puck near the right side of the net and fed classmate Mark Shalawylo, who beat Karr with a quick shot from the top of the crease.

Tropper netted his 13th goal of the season three minutes into the final period, scoring on the power-play after an errant shot from sophomore defenseman Josh Harrold banged off the back boards and bounced between the circles. Tropper took the lucky bounce near the bottom of the left circle and beat Karr with the tough angle shot.

Buzzell scored unassisted at the 15:31 mark after taking the puck near mid-ice and slanting down the left side. Buzzell beat the Irish defense to the crease and faked out Karr before putting the puck inside the right pipe.

Robitaille scored on a shorthanded situation 80 seconds later, putting a backhanded shot inside the right post after beating back the Irish defense off passes from Adam Copeland and Dan Boyle. It was just Robitaille's second point and first goal vs. the Irish this season (he ranks 6th in the CCHA with 34 points). Notre Dame has allowed only four shorthanded goals all season (fourth-fewest allowed by any CCHA team).

The comeback was a rarity this season for Miami, who had been just 3-5 in games this season when trailing or tied after two periods. The Irish took a lead into the first intermission for just the fifth time this season and are now 3-2 in games when leading after the first 20 minutes.

Neither team fared well on the powerplay, with Notre Dame converting on 1-of-7 while Miami was 1-of-6.

Post-Game Quotes

Notre Dame Coach Dave Poulin: "We're there. We are so close to it. I don't know what to say--it's like we're running old tapes. We played real well. We had one little breakdown for about a minute in the second when it was 3-3. The same guys keep playing because they are playing well, so you just keep putting them out there. We could have scored a power-play goal in the critical period; instead, we end up taking a penalty near the end of the power-play. We have guys who are playing terrific right now. Dusbabek is playing real well. (Junior) Steve Noble is playing strong hockey ... (Miami is) a good hockey team right now. They are playing well. Boyle and Robitaille are real factors out there--especially on the power-play or short-handed. They are truly star players. They don't seem as loud like a team like Michigan, because Michigan has more of them."

Miami coach Mark Mazzoleni: "I like Notre Dame's hockey team. I think Dave and his staff are doing an excellent job. They compete very hard. They don't quit. When you look at our team, we are moving into the top half of the league--maybe even higher. Notre Dame is a team that competes very hard. They don't give you a lot of space and they work extremely hard. They play a full 60 minutes. That is a tribute to what they've done with the team. We have a lot of respect for them. We had to play a smart game to come out of here with a victory tonight."

MIAMI         1   2   3   -   6
NOTRE DAME    2   1   0   -   3
1st period- MU 1. White (Mizerek, Whitecotton) 1:34;  ND 1. Andrusiak (Fraser, Urick), PP, 5:30;  ND 2. Dusbabek 13:10.
2nd period- ND 3. Seyferth (Unassisted) 2:13;  2. MU - Leahy (Krajnc, Mizerek) 6:53;  MU 3. Shalawylo (Bodnar, Bautch) 7:28.  
3rd period- MU 4. Tropper (Harrold, Boyle) , PP, 2:59;  MU 5. Buzzell 15:31;  6. MU Robitaille (Copeland, Boyle), SH, 16:52.
Shots on goal: ND 9-8-5/22, MU 11-10-10/31.
Saves: ND (Karr) 10-8-7/25, MU (Prior) 7-7-5/19.   
Power-play: ND 1-for-6, MU 1-for-7.
Penalties:  ND 11 for 30:00, MU 12 for 32:00.
Miami: 17-5-0, 11-2-0 CCHA      
Notre Dame: 5-13-1, 4-9-1 CCHA    

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