Dec. 6, 1997
Notre Dame Ices Western Michigan in Sweep
NOTRE DAME, Ind.---The Fighting Irish hockey team earned its second consecutive victory over the Western Michigan Broncos by the score of 4-2 on Saturday night. The win boosted Notre Dame's record to 8-6-2 on the season, and 5-5-2 in CCHA conference play.
The Irish got on the board early in the first period when Dan Carlson scored for the second consecutive night. Carlson was forechecking on an Irish penalty kill in the Bronco zone when he picked up the stick of a Bronco defeseman, and wristed the puck past Bronco goalie Matt Barnes at 5:01 of the first period. At the 10:44 mark of the first the Broncos fought back. Junior Mike Melas skated in on a breakaway, after two Irish defenseman ran into each other and fell down. Notre Dame goaltender Matt Eisler aggressively poked the puck away from Melas with his goal stick, but Western Michigan's Frank Novock skated down the slot and put the puck in the net to tie the game at one.
Notre Dame took the lead for good with two goals late in the first period. Junior right wing Brian Urick scored the second Irish goal on a breakaway on the left wing side of the ice. Urick's initial backhander was stopped by Barnes, but he pushed the rebound underneath the sprawling netminder. Just 2:41 later, Irish defenseman Benoit Cotnoir scored on a slap shot from the right point to put the Irish up 3-1 heading to the second period.
The game remained tight in the second period, as both goaltenders played strong second periods, each earning 13 saves in the session. However, the Broncos got a goal with just 18 seconds remaining in the period, by Chuck Mindel who banged home a rebound, to close the Irish lead to 3-2.
The Broncos came out strong in the third period, and got an early opportunity on the power play just 28 seconds into the period. The Irish penalty killing units were up to the challenge, allowing only one shot during the Bronco man-advantage. Matt Eisler preserved the lead for the Irish in the third, stopping all ten Bronco shots. Notre Dame earned a late insurance goal from captain Steve Noble to ice the victory. Noble skated in with Ben Simon on a 2-1 and Simon slid the puck across the crease to Noble who tapped it into the empty net.
The Notre Dame line of Ben Simon, Dan Carlson and Brian Urick dominated the game, scoring seven points and earning a plus-nine rating for the game. Carlson led the Irish with a goal and two assists, all in the first period. Simon added two assists, and Urick tallied a goal and an assist.
The Irish win moves them into a tie for fifth place in the CCHA conference with Ohio State with 12 points on the season. Notre Dame has a record of 3-1-1 versus Western Michigan over the past two seasons. The two wins this weekend will give the Irish some momentum as they face nationally-ranked Wisconsin in a two game series next week. Notre Dame will take their 5-3 road record to Madison on Wednesday before returning home to face the Badgers again on Friday.