Feb. 28, 1998
Notre Dame Sweeps Season Series with Northern Michigan 5-2
Matt Eisler makes 28 saves. (file photo)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Senior goaltender Matt Eisler stopped 28 of 30 shots while moving into second on Notre Dame's career saves list and nine Irish players factored into the scoring as Notre Dame swept its first Central Collegiate Hockey Association season series since 1995, defeating Northern Michigan 5-2 Saturday at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.
Notre Dame (17-15-4, 12-13-4) moved past Ferris State (12-13-3) and into a tie with Lake Superior State (12-13-4) for sixth place in the CCHA standings. FSU dropped a 6-3 game Saturday at CCHA frontrunner Michigan State while LSSU lost 5-2 at Michigan.
Northern Michigan (16-14-4, 14-12-3) lost for the third time to the Irish in nine days, dropping a 4-3 home game on Feb. 20 and a 3-1 game at the Joyce Center on the 27th. Saturday's win signals Notre Dame's first season sweep of a CCHA opponent since the 1994-95 team took three games from Ohio State.
In other CCHA action Saturday, Ohio State posted a 5-2 win at Bowling Green to clinch third place and home ice in the eight-team CCHA Tournament. OSU is the only team whose seed is set, heading into the final week of the regular season.
MSU (20-4-4) holds a three-point lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker on Michigan (20-7-1), which finishes its season next week on the road at BG and Notre Dame while the Spartans will play at LSSU and NMU. Idle Miami (14-11-4) remains in fourth place and can finish no lower than fifth. NMU is the current fifth-place team and can finish no lower than sixth. LSSU holds the tiebreaker over Notre Dame (2-0-1) while FSU has the tiebreaker vs. LSSU (2-1-) and the Irish have the tiebreaker with FSU (2-0-1). If Notre Dame, LSSU and FSU finish in a three-way tie, the Lakers would claim sixth place and the Irish would finish seventh (based on record between the tied teams).
Eisler's 28 saves Saturday give him 2,778 in his career, pushing him past 1972 graduate Dick Tomasoni (2,756) into second place on the Irish career saves list, behind '90 grad. Lance Madson's 3,519. Eisler also surpassed the 6,000-minute plateau for his career early in the third period.
Notre Dame's offensive heroes included a trio of juniors: defenseman Benoit Cotnoir (2G-1A), right wing Brian Urick (3A) and left wing Aniket Dhadphale, whose two goals pushed his season total to 24--equaling the most by a Notre Dame player in the past eight seasons (Lou Zadra finished with 24 goals in '91 and '92).
The game featured a combined 102 penalty minutes by 21 players. NMU saw 10 of its players combine for 16 penalties (56 minutes) while 11 Irish players totaled 15 penalties (46 minutes).
Notre Dame entered the month of February with a home record of just 3-6-3 but the Irish are 3-1-1 in their last five home games, outscoring the opposition 19-10 during that home stretch.
Notre Dame erupted for two power-play goals in a 30-second span midway through the opening period. A high-sticking penalty on NMU's Rocky Welsing yielded a 17-second, 5-on-3 chance and the Irish quickly responded on Cotnoir's ninth goal of the season (7:40). Freshman left wing Dan Carlson initiated the goal, working the puck to Urick at the left circle. Urick faked a shot, pivoted and slid a pass back to the top of the right circle for Cotnoir, who calmly moved to his left before rifling a low shot past NMU sophomore goaltender Duane Hoey.
Just 30 seconds later, Cotnoir sent a pass from the right circle into the slot and Dhadphale tipped the puck past Hoey for his 12th power-play goal of the season and a 2-0 Irish lead. The Irish took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, when Dhadphale knocked home a rebounded shot from freshman defenseman Ryan Clark (15:01). Senior center Lyle Andrusiak banged a pass off the boards for Clark, who sent a shot from the top of the left circle.
Notre Dame added a goal at 5:26 of the second period, when sophomore defenseman Sean Seyferth sent home his first goal of the season on a shot from the top of the left circle that sailed past Hoey into the upper right corner of the net, with junior center Craig Hagkull and Urick drawing the assists. The Irish stretched to 5-0 midway through the period on Cotnoir's third shorthanded goal of the season. Urick led the rush down the right side and slid a centering pass to Cotnoir, who flicked the puck past Hoey for Notre Dame's eighth shorthanded goal of the season (10:30)
The Wildcats lifted Hoey for freshman Dan Ragusett at 11:40 of the second period and NMU got on the board moments later, when Bryan Phillips but back a power-play shot from Doug Schmidt (12:59). NMU capped the scoring with 3:28 left in the third, when Rich Metro skated into the slot and beat Eisler with a glove-side shot.
NOTES: Senior center Steve Noble played in his 71st consecutive game Saturday and has played in 144 out of 145 in his career, becoming the 10th Notre Dame player ever to log 144-plus career games ... Andrusiak became the 20th Irish player to appear in 140-plus games ... Dhadphale's 12 power-play goals are tied for fifth in Irish history ... Urick's three assists tied his career high, set Nov. 1, 1997 at MSU ... Urick had a six-point weekend, totaling two goals and an assist Friday ... 19 of Cotnoir's 28 points have come on the power play this season (4G-15A).
NORTHERN MICHIGAN (16-14-4, 14-12-3 CCHA) 0 1 1 - 2
NOTRE DAME (17-16-4, 12-13-4 CCHA) 3 2 0 - 5
1ST: ND 1. Cotnoir 9 (Urick, Eaton) 7:40;
ND 2. Dhadphale 23 (Cotnoir), PP, 8:10;
ND 3. Dhadphale 24 (Clark, Andrusiak) 15:01.
2ND: ND 4. Seyferth 1 (Hagkull, Urick) 5:26;
ND 5. Cotnoir 10 (Urick, Simon) 10:30.
NMU 1. Phillips 5 (Schmidt, Metro) 12:59.
3RD: NMU 2. Metro 9 (Riipi, Johnson) 16:32.
SHOTS: NMU 11-10-9/30, ND 12-10-4/26.
SAVES: NMU (Hoey) 9-1-x/10, (Ragusett) x-7-4/11; ND (Eisler) 11-9-8/28.
POWER PLAY: NMU 1-6, ND 2-5.
PENALTIES: NMU 16 for 56:00, ND 15 for 46:00.