Feb. 27, 1998
Irish Hockey Tops Northern Michigan, 3-1, Still in Race for 6th Place in CCHA
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Freshman defenseman Mark Eaton and junior right wing Brian Urick made the big plays on offense and senior Matt Eisler stopped 18 of 19 shots on goal as Notre Dame kept alive its hopes for a sixth-place finish in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association with a 3-1 victory Friday over visiting Northern Michigan at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.
Notre Dame (16-16-4, 11-13-4 CCHA) remains eighth in the CCHA standings with 26 points, one point behind Ferris State (12-12-3) and just two behind Lake Superior (12-12-4). FSU pulled off a 2-1 upset Friday at second-place Michigan while Michigan State rallied at home over LSSU, scoring three third-period goals for a 4-2 win.
Northern Michigan (16-13-4, 14-11-3) fell a point behind Miami (14-11-4) in the race for fourth place and the final home-ice spot in first round of the CCHA Tournament (March 13-15, best 2-of-3). The RedHawks erupted for an 8-2 home win Friday over Bowling Green to move back within a point of idle Ohio State (16-10-1). MSU (19-4-4) is within a point of clinching the regular-season title, holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over second-place Michigan (19-6-1) while OSU needs just two points in its final three games to secure third. Saturday's CCHA games include FSU at MSU, LSSU at Michigan, NMU at Notre Dame and OSU at BG.
Based on the current standings, MSU would play host to the eighth-place finisher while the seventh-place team would travel to Michigan and the sixth-place team to OSU. Notre Dame owns the tiebreaker over FSU (2-0-1) but would lose out in a tie with LSSU (the Lakers took the series, 2-0-1). Should Notre Dame, FSU and LSSU all finish tied, the Lakers would claim sixth place and the Irish seventh.
Notre Dame, which won 4-3 at NMU last Friday, has now claimed the season series from five CCHA teams: NMU, FSU, Bowling Green (2-0-1), Western Michigan (2-1-0) and Alaska Fairbanks (2-1-0).
Notre Dame scored Friday's first goal midway through the second period, when Eaton again showed off his impressive stick-handling for his 10th goal of the season. Urick set the play in motion by working the puck to freshman left wing Dan Carlson, who then zipped a centering pass from the right side. Eaton--who has nine goals and eight assists in the last 12 games--was slanting in from the left and took the puck in stride before faking NMU sophomore Duane Hoey to the stick side. As Hoey shifted to his right, Eaton quickly slid the puck across the front of the crease and nudged a backhander into the open net (8:08).
The Irish added to their early in the third period, on Urick's 15th goal of the season. Sophomore center Ben Simon won a faceoff in the Irish end, received the puck back from junior left wing Aniket Dhadphale and slid the puck in the direction of Urick at mid-ice. Urick separated from an NMU defenseman and skated free on the breakaway, depositing a low shot to Hoey's stick-side into the left corner of the net (4:46).
The Wildcats scored with 3:44 left in regulation, setting up a frenetic finish. Doug Schmidt fed the puck to sophomore left wing Roger Trudeau's, whose power-play shot from the slot trickled through Eisler's legs before dropping an inch past the goal line. Prior to Trudeau's goal, his 13th of the season, Notre Dame had stopped 14 straight opponent power plays and 24 of the previous 25.
Eisler made nine saves in the final period while Eaton nearly sealed the game with 1:45 left to play, on a shot from the left point that clanged off the pipe. Senior center Lyle Andrusiak then won a crucial faceoff in the Irish zone, delaying Hoey's exit from the ice for an extra skater. Hoey left with 45 seconds to play but Eisler stopped two shots by Rich Metro. Eaton then played the puck to the right boards for Urick in the Irish zone and the veteran forward fired a shot from the Irish blue line that clanged off the left post and bounced into the net, clinching the game (19:52).
NOTES: Eisler's 19 saves give him 2,750 in his career, just seven shy of passing Dick Tomasoni ('72) into second place on the Irish career saves list ... Eisler--who has allowed just six goals in his last three games--also is 42 minutes away from the 6,000-minute plateau for his career ... senior center Steve Noble played in his 70th consecutive game Friday and has played in 143 out of 144 in his career, becoming just the 12th Notre Dame player and third in the last 15 years to log 143-plus career games ... Andrusiak could become the 20th Irish player to appear in 140-plus games by playing in Saturday's game ... prior to Friday, Urick had just one goal in the previous six games and none in the previous four ... Urick's 16 goals are second-most by a Notre Dame player in the last six seasons, behind Dhadphale's current total of 22 ... Urick has 30 points for the season (16G-14A), joining Simon (9-25) and Dhadphale (22-10) as the first Irish threesome with 30-plus points since the 1992-93 grouping of Jamie Ling (14-26), Dave Bonoske (14-16) and Curtis Janicke (12-18).
1ST: No Scoring. 2ND: ND 1. Eaton 10 (Carlson, Urick) 8:08. 3RD: ND 2. Urick 15 (Simon, Dhadphale) 4:46; NMU 1. Trudeau 13 (Schmidt), PP, 16:16; ND 3. Urick 16 (Eaton), EN, 19:52.