Feb. 21, 1997

Notre Dame Hockey Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive With 5-4 Overtime Win

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Sophomore Neal Johnson scored 2:13 into overtime as Notre Dame kept its Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoff hopes alive with a 5-4 overtime win over Western Michigan on Saturday night at the Joyce Field House.

The victory snapped an eight-game Irish losing streak and left Notre Dame with 13 points with two games remaining. Ferris State entered tonight's game at Alaska Fairbanks in eighth place with 15 points.

"This is a huge win for us, an enormous win," said Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin. "Maybe there was a different feeling on the bench, the feeling that we were going to do it."

Western Michigan, which overcame four one-goal deficits and one two-goal deficit, tied the game at four when Frank Novock scored his 10th goal of the season on a shot from the point off a feed from Geoff Collard with 14:57 remaining in the third period.

"It's hard to come away with a loss like that," said Western Michigan coach Bill Wilkinson. "It's really disappointing. When you play with this intensity you usually feel pretty good about it, but it's tough not to come away with a win."

The Irish kept the score tied due in part to great goaltending from junior Matt Eisler. The West Milford, N.J. native made 31 saves including two on Bronco breakaways in a 50 second stretch in a second period where the Broncos tallied 18 shots on net.

That set the stage for Johnson's overtime heroics. Freshman John Dwyer, who scored Notre Dame's first goal of the evening, hit Johnson with a pass near the blue line. Johnson, maneuvering one-on-one with a Bronco defenseman, got a stride advantage on the right side before letting the game-winning shot go. It was the second goal of the season for the Edina, Minn. native.

Notre Dame took the lead when Dwyer scored his first collegiate goal at 16:33 of the first period. Dwyer, split a pair of Bronco defensemen at the blue line, faked a shot before depositing the puck into an empty net.

The Broncos tied the scored 1:55 later when Tony Kolozsy won the faceoff to Joe Corvo at the point. Corvo scored two goals on the night lifting his season total to 12.

The Irish took a brief 2-1 lead at 18:55 of the first period on a Tim Harberts goal only to see the Broncos tie the score 46 seconds later.

Western Michigan dominated the second period, outshooting Notre Dame 19-9. But Eisler's 18 second-period saves coupled with two Irish goals in a 2:04 stretch gave Notre Dame a 4-2 lead.

Notre Dame 9-23-1 overall and 6-18-1 in CCHA play travels to Western Michigan tomorrow night. The Irish conclude their regular season with a home game against Michigan State next Friday night.

Western Michigan    2  1  1  0  --  4
Notre Dame          2  2  0  1  --  5
1st period:  (ND) Dwyer 1 (Bagne), 16:33; (WMU) Corvo 11 (Kolozsy),
18:28; (ND) Harberts 6 (Hagkull, Jurkowski), 18:55; (WMU) Cressman 8
(Cardwell, Collard), 19:41.
2nd period: (ND) Dusbabek 13 (Simon, Fraser) 4-on-4, 12:32; (ND)
Fraser 3 (Harberts, Noble), pp, 15:36; (WMU) Corvo 11 (Cardwell, Melas), pp, 
3rd period:  (WMU) Novock (Collard, Waring), 5:03.
Overtime:  (ND) Johnson (Dwyer), 2:13.
Shots on Goal
Western Michigan    7-19-8-1 -- 35
Notre Dame          7- 9-8-1 -- 25

WMU - Barnes (62:13)  5-7-8-0  -- 20
ND - Eisler (62:13)   5-18-7-1 -- 31
Western Michigan   4-8
Notre Dame         5-10
Power Play Conv
Western Michigan  1-4
Notre Dame        1-3
Western Michigan  13-15-4 (9-11-4
Notre Dame         9-23-1 (6-18-1)
Attend:  2,667 (sellout)

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