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    Fighting Irish

    Feb. 13, 1998

    Ohio State Puts on Third-Period Push to Extend Unbeaten Streak, 5-3 at Notre Dame

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Sophomore Eric Meloche and junior Neal Rech--who has notched three of his four goals this season vs. Notre Dame--both scored their second goals of the game midway through the third as streaking Ohio State extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games with a 5-3 victory over the Irish in Central Collegiate Hockey Association action Friday at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.

    The win vaults Ohio State (18-10-2, 15-9-1 CCHA)--which is 9-0-1 in its last 10 outings--past Miami (13-7-4) into third place in the CCHA, after the RedHawks dropped a 3-1 game Saturday at front-running Michigan (18-4-1). Michigan State (15-4-4), which plays host to OSU on Saturday, remains in second place following a 4-2 home win over 10th-place Western Michigan (5-18-1).

    Notre Dame (14-14-4, 9-11-4 CCHA) remains tied for sixth place in the CCHA with Lake Superior (9-11-4), which dropped a 4-2 road game Saturday to an eighth-place Ferris State squad (9-11-3) that stands just a point behind the Irish and Lakers. In other CCHA action Saturday, fifth-place Northern Michigan (13-8-3) continued its pursuit of home ice for the eight-team CCHA Tournament with a 3-2 overtime win at 10th-place Bowling Green (4-16-3), stretching NMU's lead to seven points over Notre Dame and LSSU.

    Despite the loss, Notre Dame remains on the verge of clinching its first CCHA Tournament berth since 1995. An Irish victory Saturday at Western Michigan, coupled with a loss or tie by Bowling Green at home vs. Miami, would all but clinch a spot in the CCHAs for the Irish, as WMU, BGSU and idle UAF all would be unable to total more than 24 points (which would be the Irish total after a win Saturday). Notre Dame already holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with each of those teams and FSU, with the ND-LSSU series still hinging on next Saturday's matchup between the teams.

    Notre Dame junior left wing Aniket Dhadphale--the recent CCHA player of the week--assisted on Notre Dame's first goal and scored two, giving him eight points in the last three games and 22 goals for the season (most at Notre Dame since Lou Zadra's 24 in 1991-92).

    Notre Dame's sophomore defensive tandem of Tyson Fraser (back) and Nathan Borega (shoulder) both missed the game due to day-to-day injuries, with sophomore Andy Jurkowski and junior Scott Giuliani taking their spots among the 18 starting skaters. Borega was the only Notre Dame player to appear in all of Notre Dame's previous 66 games over past two seasons.

    Both teams attempted 34 shots, with OSU freshman Jeff Maund making 31 saves to improve to 14-5-0 for the season while Notre Dame senior Matt Eisler totaled 29 saves. The Irish converted on 2-of-7 power-play chances while OSU was 1-of-4.

    Meloche opened the scoring with his 19th goal of the season, a power-play score at 18:09 of the first. Sophomore center Hugo Boisvert and senior defenseman Ryan Root registered the assists, with Meloche beating Eisler on a shot from the left side of the slot.

    The Irish quickly gained the equalizer, when crisp passes from sophomore center Ben Simon and Dhadphale set up surging freshman defenseman Mark Eaton (19:10). Simon skated into the OSU zone and dropped the puck into the slot as he entered the left circle. Dhadphale was filling the middle and quickly redirected the puck to his right, where Eaton glided in for his seventh goal of the season and 12th point in the last eight games (6 G-6 A).

    The hosts broke ahead at the 4:55 mark of the second, when Dhadphale poked home his 10th power-play goal of the season. Senior center Lyle Andrusiak won a rightside faceoff and played the puck back to junior defenseman Benoit Cotnoir, who rocketed a shot on net. Dhadphale was camped at the right side of the crease and poked home the rebound for a 2-1 lead.

    Just as Notre Dame had answered OSU's goal in the first period, the Buckeyes quickly tied the game on Rech's unassisted goal 28 seconds later. Rech--who scored a shorthanded goal three weeks ago in OSU's 5-3 home win over the Irish--picked off an attempted Irish clear between the circles and beat Eisler to tie the game.

    OSU stunningly took the lead amidst some confusion moments later. Sophomore defenseman Ryan Jestadt and freshman Jean-Francois Dufour registered the assists while freshman Vinnie Grant poked the puck home from the right side of the crease (7:15). Like Rech, Grant had just two previous goals this season, with one of them icing the earlier 5-3 win over the Irish.

    Dhadphale came through on the power-play again to tie the game at the 5:43 mark of the third. Cotnoir--whose 25 points this season include three power-play goals and 14 power-play assists--received the puck from freshman defenseman Ryan Clark before feeding Dhadphale, who beat Maund for a 3-3 game.

    Meloche broke free down the right side and netted the game-winner with a shot from the center of the right circle that went through Eisler's legs (11:01). Just over a minute later, Grant sent a right-circle shot that clanged off the right pipe. Senior Tyler McMillan worked the puck to Rech amidst the scramble and Rech tapped it home from the left side (12:19).

    The third period remains a bugaboo for the Irish this season. In their 14 losses, Notre Dame has been outscored 26-8 during the third period while holding a 19-8 third-period scoring edge in its 14 victories.

    Simon (9 G, 21 A) and Dhadphale (22 G, 8 A) now share the Irish scoring lead with 30 points each, the first Irish teammates to total 30-plus since Jamie Ling (12-31/43) and Tim Harberts (21-13/34) in 1994-95. Dhadphale's 11 power-play goals equal the eighth-most in Irish history (Zadra also had 11 PPGs in 1991-92) and are second-most by an Irish player in the last 10 seasons, trailing only Harberts' 13 in 1994-95.

    OHIO STATE (18-10-2, 15-9-1 CCHA)   1   2   2   -   5
    NOTRE DAME (14-14-4, 9-11-4 CCHA)   1   1   1   -   3

    1ST: OSU 1. Meloche 19 (Boisvert, Root), PP, 18:09; ND 1. Eaton 7 (Dhadphale, Simon) 19:10.
    2ND: ND 2. Dhadphale 21 (Cotnoir, Andrusiak), PP, 4:55; OSU 2. Rech 3 (unassisted) 5:23; OSU 3. Grant 3 (Dufour, Jestadt) 7:15.
    3RD: ND 3. Dhadphale 22 (Cotnoir, Clark), PP, 5:43; OSU 4. Meloche 20 (unassisted) 11:02; OSU 5. Rech 4 (McMillan, Grant) 12:19.
    SHOTS: OSU 7-17-10/34, ND 10-10-14/34.
    SAVES: OSU (Maund) 9-9-13/31, ND (Eisler) 6-15-8/29.
    POWER PLAY: OSU 1-4, ND 2-7.
    PENALTIES: OSU 7 for 14:00, ND 4 for 8:00.

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