Jan. 31, 1997

Lake Superior Surges Past Visiting Notre Dame, 6-3

Irish lose some ground in CCHA standings, Lakers just three points off the pace

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - Lake Superior State scored three times in the final seven minutes, including a two-goal outburst in seven seconds, to surge past visiting Notre Dame, 6-3, in Central Collegiate Hockey Association action Friday at the Taffy Abel Arena.

Lake Superior (17-9-4, 13-5-3 CCHA) moved ahead of Michigan State (12-4-3) into sole possession of second place in the CCHA, just three points back of frontrunner Michigan (15-1-2), with three crucial league games remaining between the Lakers and Wolverines.

The loss dropped Notre Dame (8-18-1, 5-13-1) five points behind Western Michigan (6-8-4), which skated to a 3-2 win at home over MSU to move past idle Ferris State (7-12-1) into sixth place in the CCHA standings. The eighth-place Irish trail FSU by four points, with the top eight teams from the 27-game league season advancing the CCHA Tournament (5-13-0 Ohio State and 5-17-0 Alaksa-Fairbanks are tied for ninth, a point back of Notre Dame).

Notre Dame and Lake Superior will conclude their season series Saturday night at Abel Arena.

In other CCHA action, Miami (12-5-4) skated to a 2-2 tie at Bowling Green (8-9-3), with the Redskins holding onto fourth place and the Falcons remained in fifth.

The Irish held an early 1-0 lead and then twice scored to tie the score, the last coming on senior defenseman ben Nelsen's breakaway goal midway through the final period. But LSSU senior Mitch Lane poked home a rebound goal at the 13:51 mark and junior Joe Blaznek scored his second goal of the game just seven seconds later, bringing the 3,663 Abel Arena fans to their feet. Junior Bates Battaglia rifled in a shot from the left point with 3:49 remaining to cap the scoring.

Notre Dame junior goaltender Matt Eisler again started strong, making 16 of his 33 saves in the first period while shutting out the Lakers, but allowed his most goals in four weeks after the LSSU surge. Eisler had allowed just 2.26 goals in his last four games. In his last six outings, he has racked up 78 first period saves while allowing just two goals in the first 20 minutes during that span.

The final five minutes of the second period provided some of the biggest moments of the game, as the Irish failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 opportunity before LSSU sophomore Jason Sessa scored to push the Lakers back into the lead 3-2. Notre Dame had the two-man advantage after a slashing penalty to Mike Peron and a roughing penalty to Mitch Lane but junior John Grahame (who made 26 saves) and the Lakers defense held off the visitors.

Sessa's goal came after a perfect lead pass from defenseman Gino Pulente, who fired the puck from his own zone and hit Sessa in stride at the Irish blue line. Sessa broke free and beat Eisler to the upper right corner for his 18th goal of the season (18:18).

Lake Superior recorded the first 12 shots on goal and held the Irish without a shot until 4:20 remained in the opening period. But shortly thereafter, the Irish jumped ahead on their first power-play chance of the game, as sophomore Benoit Cotnoir slid a pass across the blueline for freshman defenseman Sean Seyferth, who sent a slapshot from the left point that deflected off of Grahame and into the net (17:56).

The Lakers scored two quick goals in the opening moments of the second period to snatch a 2-1 lead. Pulenta fed sophomore Tobin Praznik on the first goal, with Praznik beating Eisler to the glove side just 39 seconds into the period. Sessa then set up a goal by Blaznek 77 seconds later and the hosts had their first of three leads in the game.

Junior Steve Noble re-tied the game for Notre Dame midway through the second, tipping home a rebound shot after another Seyferth power-play blast from the left point (9:35). It marked just the fourth time this season the Irish had scored two power-play goals in the same game.

Lane scored what proved to be the game-winner after Peron received the puck off the boards from Grahame and muscled his way along the left endline before touching a shot on goal. Eisler stopped the soft shot but Lane was in position to nudge the puck into the net.

On the ensuing faceoff, Fred Slukynsky won the draw and Blaznek came up with the puck on the left side before beating Eisler with a quick shot from inside the circle.

NOTRE DAME  (8-18-1, 5-13-1 CCHA)            1    1    1    -    3
LAKE SUPERIOR STATE (17-9-4, 13-5-3 CCHA)    0    3    3    -    6
1st - ND 1. Seyferth 3 (Cotnoir, Noble) 17:56
2nd - LS 1. Praznik 5 (Pulente, Marchant), PP, 0:39; LS 2. Blaznek 18 (Sessa, Wynes);
      ND 2, Noble 7 (Seyferth, Dusbabek), PP, 9:35; LS 3. Sessa 18 (Pulente), 4-4, 18:18.
3rd - ND 3. Nelson (Dhadphale) 9:13; LS 4. Lane (Peron, Grahame) 13:51; LS 5. Blaznek 19
      (unassisted) 13:58; LS 6. Battaglia 11 (unassisted) 16:11.
Shots on goal: ND 5-14-10/29, LS 16-15-8/39. Saves: ND (Eisler) 16-12-5/33,
LS (Grahame) 4-13-9/26.  Power Play: ND 2-for-7, LS 1-for-5.  Penalties: ND
9 for 18:00, LS 11 for 22:00.

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