March 10, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame junior left wing Dan Carlson picked up right where he left off in the final month of the regular season by scoring yet another winning goal in a tight game, as the Irish opened Central Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament play with a 4-3, seesaw victory Friday over visiting Ferris State at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.
Notre Dame (15-16-8) is all too familiar with winning its first game of the best two-of-three CCHA series, as the Irish won at Michigan in 1998 and at home versus Northern Michigan before dropping the next two games in both of those matchups. Ferris State (20-15-2) will face elimination on Saturday night at the Joyce Center, with the third game to be played on Sunday at the Joyce if necessary.
While the Irish were busy tending to their challenging series with the Bulldogs, developments in Michigan’s upper peninsula were of interest to fans from both schools, as No. 3-seeded Lake Superior dropped a 2-1 overtime game to surging Bowling Green while fourth-seeded Northern Michigan was upended by dangerous Nebraska-Omaha (4-2).
If one of the top four seeds falters in its first-round series, the ND-FSU winner will play host to the “play-in” game on Tuesday, March 14 (that game pits the two lowest remaining seeds after the five first-round series). If two (or more) top seeds lose, then the ND-FSU winner would advance directly to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA semi-finals (March 17). In other action Friday, top-seeded Michigan downed Western Michigan, 4-2, while No. 2 seed Michigan State routed Miami, 6-2.
The win featured several heroes, with Irish freshman goaltender Tony Zasowski overcoming some of his poorer plays of the season to make a game-saving glove save in the closing seconds. With FSU skating 6-on-5, junior defenseman Jim Dube fired a shot from inside the center of the blueline, with the clock ticking under 20 seconds. The puck deflected around a crowded crease area but found the stick of lefthanded senior center Brian McCullough, who had an open net on the right side. But the sprawling Zasowski reached back with his glove hand and snatched away the puck just as it was leaving McCullough’s stick (the speed of Zasowski’s move led to most onlookers either assuming that a goal had been scored or being confused as to where the puck had ended up).
The game featured three ties, with the Irish holding first-period leads of 1-0 and 2-1 before seeing the Bulldogs surge ahead with a pair of goals late in the second period. But Notre Dame senior left wing Andy Jurkowski made the most of his return to the lineup-he missed the last four games with a hand injury-by scoring a game-tying rebound goal just 71 seconds into the final period. Carlson then turned in yet another strong individual effort four minutes later (see goal recaps below) and the Irish held on for yet another close win.
The hosts also had scored early in the first period, with junior right wing Ryan Dolder sending home a rebound just 48 seconds into the game-giving the alternate captain seven of his eight goals this season at the Joyce Center. Later in the opening period, Zasowski misjudged a routine shot by freshman left wing Chris Kunitz-with the puck tipping off his glove and into the net-before senior center Ben Simon restored the Irish cushion with his seventh goal in the last six games.
The Bulldogs then seized control late in the second period, with senior center Rob Kozak scoring a shorthanded goal before Dube flicked in a 4-on-4 score four minutes later, for a 3-2 FSU lead.
Ten different Irish players factored into the scoring, with freshman center Connor Dunlop’s feed and freshman left wing Michael Chin’s initial shot setting up Dolder’s goal. Senior right wing Joe Dusbabek carried the puck into the FSU zone before feeding Simon for the second Irish goal while shots from junior defenseman Ryan Clark and junior left wing Jay Kopischke led to Jurkowski’s score.
* ND 1, FSU 0 – Dunlop brought the puck down the right, tucked behind the net and sent a pass around the far post into the high slot … Chin slapped a shot on net and Dolder was at the top of the crease to send the rebound past sophomore G Phil Osaer (0:48).
* ND 1, FSU 1 – Freshman RW Phil Lewandowski poked the puck off the right boards and junior C Kevin Swider carried the puck into the Irish zone before sliding a pass to his left … Kunitz took the pass in stride and skated into the left circle before notching his 19th goal of the season on a shot that kicked off Zasowski’s glove before flopping into the far right side of the net (14:47).
* ND 2, FSU 1 – Carlson slapped the puck to Dusbabek in the Irish zone and the senior winger carried the puck down the right side before circling behind the net and delivering the puck into the crease area … Simon was positioned at the left side of the crease and stuffed the puck past Osaer for his 13th goal of the season (18:23).
* ND 2, FSU 2 – Kozak picked off an Irish power-play pass at the blue line and sent a perfect lead pass to McCullough down the right side … with FSU on an odd-man rush, the lefthanded McCullough wristed a forehand shot from the right circle, with Irish senior D Tyson Fraser bearing down on him … Zasowski pushed the puck to his left but failed to cover, with the righthanded Kozak swooping in for his sixth goal of the season, lifting a backhander past the left shoulder of the slouching Zasowski (14:35).
* FSU 3, ND 2 – Just four minutes later, FSU surged ahead on Dube’s fourth goal of the season … Kunitz set up the 4-on-4 goal with a rush down the left side, faking a shot from the blue line before reversing and sending a pass towards mid-ice … Dube collected the puck and skated into the high slot before catching Zasowski with a shot that sailed by his blocker and into the left side of the net (18:49).
* ND 3, FSU 3 – Kopischke won a leftside faceoff and drew the puck back to Clark, whose shot from the left point was batted by Osaer towards the near left boards … Kopischke tracked down the puck near the bottom of the circle and sent a shot wide of the left post that banked off the back leg of FSU freshman D Troy Milam, who was concerned with freshman RW John Wroblewski behind the net … the puck kicked to the left side of the crease and Jurkowski found a small opening, lifting the puck between Osaer’s stick and the left post for his fifth goal of the season and first in 24 games (1:11).
* ND 4, FSU 3 – The Bulldogs were making a rush down the ice when the Irish suddenly counterattacked, with senior D Sean Molina and freshman D Evan Nielsen helping cut off FSU in the Irish zone before Carlson sped away with the puck down the right side … one FSU player fell down near mid-ice, leaving freshman D Troy Milam alone to stop ND’s leading scorer … as Carlson hurried down the right side, Milam gestured back towards mid-ice as if concerned for coverage of a second Irish skater … Carlson seized on the moment by momentarily slowing before changing gears to blow by Milam and angle towards the net … Carlson skated by the crease area-with Osaer flinging his body to his right in vain-before tucking a forehand shot inside the far left post for his 17th goal of the season (5:46).
FERRIS STATE 1 2 0 – 3
NOTRE DAME 2 0 2 – 4
1st: ND 1. Dolder 8 (Chin, Dunlop) 00:48, FSU 1. Kunitz (Swider, Lewandowski) 14:47, ND 2. Simon 13 (Dusbabek, Carlson) 18:23.
2nd: FSU 2. Kozak 6 (McCullough), SH, 14:35, FSU 3. Dube 4 (Kunitz) 18:49.
3rd: ND 3. Jurkowski 5 (Kopischke, Clark) 1:11, ND 4. Carlson 17 (Nielsen) 5:46.
SHOTS: FSU 6-12-8/26, ND 10-9-12/31.
SAVES: FSU (Osaer) 8-9-10/27, ND (Zasowski) 5-10-8/23.
POWER PLAY: FSU 0-for-1, ND 0-for-3.
PENALTIES: FSU 5 for 10:00, ND 3 for 6:00.
ND HEAD COACH DAVE POULIN: “I don’t know how, but he saved (that last shot). Tony will be the first to admit that he was not as sharp tonight as he has been, but we needed a big save and he saved it. … I was concerned heading into the third period, because we given them what they needed to win the game. … Carlson’s was a major league goal. That’s the only way to describe it. … We did not play well tonight and that is what we told the team. We won a hockey game. In the playoffs, sometimes you can’t look at how you won. It is just result-oriented in the playoffs.”
ND JUNIOR LEFT WING Dan Carlson: “I saw space behind [Milam] and went wide around to go in for the goal. … When the game is on the line, I feel like I am ready to go. … Tony’s save at the end was just ridiculous. I don’t know how he saved it.”
ND SENIOR LEFT WING Andy Jurkowski: “I had already turned my head away (on the last save). I just could not watch. It was just unbelievable.”
ND FRESHMAN GOALTENDER Tony Zasowski: “Lucky is all I can say. The whole play seemed like slow motion. I saw the puck and thought there was no way I could get to it. I just fell back and felt something in my glove and saw [McCullough] pounding his stick on the ice.”
FSU SENIOR CENTER BRIAN McCULLOUGH: “It was a pretty save. My hat’s off to him. Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t. … I don’t feel this was our best effort. We came out flat and got behind, so we had to play catch-up. We just did not have emotion tonight. You will see a completely different team tomorrow night.”
NOTES: ND will be looking to avoid the second-game slump this season that led to a 4-6-4 record on the second days of CCHA regular-season series in 1999-2000 (compared to 7-4-3 on the first nights) … ND has allowed eight SHGs this season while scoring just two … Carlson’s five GWG equal the most in a season by an ND players since 1989-90 (Brian Urick also had five GWGs in 1997-98) … Carlson also has eight career GWGs, tied for ninth in ND history … he has scored the GWG in four of ND’s last seven wins, with all of them being close affairs (4-3 vs. WMU in overtime, 2-1 at UAF, 2-1 at OSU in OT) … Friday’s game featured just four combined power-play chances (FSU as 0-for-1, ND 0-for-3), after last Saturday’s bizarre game at MSU that saw the Irish and Spartans combine for 27 PP chances … FSU had been 3-for-9 on the PP in its earlier wins this season over ND (4-1 at FSU on Oct. 23, 4-2 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on Oct. 24) … ND was well-prepared for a tight game, after winning seven of its 11 one-goal games during the regular season (plus eight ties) … ND’s first forward line of Carlson-Simon-Dusbabek has made a claim to being one of the best in the CCHA, particularly during the last month … that veteran trio has combined for 104 goals and 293 points in 381 career games, including 14 goals and 33 points during the last eight games (6G-7A for Carlson, 7G-6A for Simon, 1G-6A for Dusbabek) … including Friday’s 1G-1A, Carlson has 11G-8A on the first night of the 15 CCHA series this season (3G-4A on the second night) … Molina played in his 145th career game, moving him into a tie for ninth on the Irish all-time list … Carlson’s goal was similar to the highlight-reel play he made in scoring the first goal of the game a week earlier at the Joyce Center (a 2-2 tie with MSU) … ND’s four non-PP goals are its most in a game since the 5-1 win at Vermont during Thanksgiving weekend (a span of 25 games) … the Irish could reach .500 for the first time this season with a win on Saturday (ND is 8-4-5 in its last 17 games, since dropping a 5-2 game to Colorado College on New Year’s Day).