March 15, 2002
Detroit, Mich. – Notre Dame’s late season run through the CCHA and the CCHA tournament ended in disappointment on Friday evening at Joe Louis Arena as the eighth-seeded Irish dropped a 3-1 decision to third-seeded Northern Michigan in the opening game of the CCHA’s Super Six.
Northern’s Chris Gobert scored all three Wildcat goals and goaltender Craig Kowalski made 23 saves to bring Notre Dame’s season to an end.
The Irish came into Friday’s action having won seven of their last nine games since Feb. 8th and were looking to keep the run going. The loss closes the books on the season for Notre Dame at 16-17-5. Northern Michigan, ranked 12th in the nation in the USA Today Poll and 11th by U.S. College Hockey Online, advances to the semifinals on Saturday versus second-seeded Michigan State. The Wildcats are 26-11-2 for the year.
The two teams traded jabs in the first period before senior David Inman broke the scoreless tie at 18:55. Connor Dunlop moved the puck along the left wing boards to John Wroblewski who found Inman at the hashmarks near the left wing circle. Inman wasted little time as he snapped a one-time over Kowalski’s glove for his 19th goal of the season.
The Irish outshot Northern Michigan 11-4 in the period and continued to apply the pressure in the second only to have Kowalski make several big saves.
The Wildcats finally found the back of the net against Cey at 17:37 when Gobert fought off a Notre Dame check near the bottom of the right wing circle, took a pass from Chad Theuer and whipped a shot past Cey for his first of the night and 18th of the season.
Northern would take the lead for good at 7:30 of the third period while the two teams played four aside. Gobert stripped a Notre Dame defenseman just inside the blue line. Cey came out to poke check the puck, but Gobert got to it first and got around the Irish netminder to slide the puck into the open net for his second of the night.
“I just went on instincts. Maybe he caught me a little off guard, but I tried to get out and poke it away and didn’t get it,” said Cey following the game.
“He came sliding out on the play and I just wanted to make sure I got to it first and then get around him,” said Gobert on his second goal of the night.”
Gobert closed the scoring with an empty net goal at 19:44. With the Irish pressing in the Northern Michigan zone, the Wildcats Dan Donnette was able to clear it up the right wing boards to Theuer who went in on the open goal and hit the post. Gobert, trailing the play, sid the rebound into the net to wrap up his hat trick.
Northern Michigan was outshot in the game 24-20. Cey made 17 saves in the game. Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play.
Despite the disappointing ending, Irish head coach Dave Poulin believes his team made the most of their trip to Detroit.
“You get experience in these games by playing in this game. One of our goals this season was to make it to Joe Louis Arena and we accomplished that,” said Poulin.
“I proud of this team. We had just two seniors who played regularly. We have a defense that plays three sophomores and two freshmen along with a freshman goaltender. Fifteen minutes after this season is over, I’m looking forward to next season.”
**IRISH PLAYOFF NOTES:
**The Irish have played at Joe Louis Arena in two of the last three seasons. In the program’s history, Notre Dame has played eight games at Joe Louis Arena and now has a 3-5 records in those games.
** Friday’s game was the fifth meeting of the season between Notre Dame and Northern Michigan. The Wildcats won three of the five meetings.
** David Inman finished his Notre Dame career with a career-high 19 goals on the season. This 19 goals were the most by an Irish player since Aniket Dhadphale had 25 in the 1997-98 season.
**Connor Dunlop finishes the season with career highs in goals (9), assists (36) and points (45). His 36 assists are the most by a Notre Dame player since Curtis Janicke had 38 in the 1991-92 season and the most by a Notre Dame player since the Irish returned to the CCHA in 1992-93. His 45 points are also the most by an Irish player since the return to the CCHA and are the most since Janicke had 50 in the 1991-92 campaign.
**Goaltender Morgan Cey finished the season going 7-3 over the last 10 games. In those 10 games he gave up 15 goals while making 284 saves.
**Part of the reason for Notre Dame’s strong play in the final six weeks of the season was the play of the Irish penalty killing unit. Over the last 10 games of the season, the Irish gave up just one power play goal in 30 opponent chances for a 96.7% penalty killing ratio.
**Friday’s game was the final game for four Notre Dame seniors. Forwards David Inman, Jon Maruk and Sam Cornelius and goaltender Jeremiah Kimento played their final game in an Irish uniform. . ** The Irish are now 2-11 in road CCHA playoff games.
1 2 3 F
Notre Dame (16-17-5) 1 0 0 1
Northern Michigan (26-11-2) 0 1 2 3
First Period: ND: David Inman 19 (John Wroblewski, Connor Dunlop), 18:55.
Penalties: ND: 0 for 0 minutes, NMU: 1 for 2 minutes
Second Period: NMU: Chris Gobert 17 (Chad Theuer), 17:37.
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes, NMU: 2 for 4 minutes.
Third Period: NMU: Gobert 18 (unassisted), 7:30, NMU: Gobert 19 (Theuer, Dan Donnette), ENG, 19:44.
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes, NMU: 1 for 2 minutes.
Shots On Goal:
Notre Dame 11 – 8 – 5 -24
Northern Michigan 4- 8 – 8 – 20
ND – Morgan Cey (59:04) 4 – 7 – 6 – 17
NMU – Craig Kowalski (59:59) 10 – 8 – 5 – 23
ND: 0 for 2
NMU: 0 for 2