March 11, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (3/11/00) – Senior center Brian McCullough scored a pair of pivotal goals in the opening moments of the second and third periods while sophomore goaltender Phil Osaer bounced back from a tough loss by making 20 saves, as visiting Ferris State rode the strong play of its special teams Saturday to fight off elimination with a surprisingly easy 6-1 victory over Notre Dame at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.
The teams will play again on Sunday (7:00 p.m. at the Joyce Center) in the decisive third game of their first-round Central Collegiate Hockey Association series.
Ferris State (21-15-2) struck for three power-play goals while McCullough converted an Irish turnover for an unassisted shorthanded goal in the first minute of the second period, pushing FSU to a 3-1 lead. Notre Dame (15-17-8) managed just 11 shots on goal during the first two periods before finishing with a game total of 21.
In Saturday’s other action, top-seeded Michigan closed out its series with Western Michigan (6-2) while No. 2 Michigan State polished off Miami (5-1). Each of those teams advances to the CCHA semifinals, to be held March 17 at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.
The other two semi-final spots have yet to be determined, although eighth-seeded Bowling Green completed a series sweep Saturday at No. 3 seed Lake Superior State, as the Falcons held on for a 3-2 win. In the final first-round series, No. 4 seed Northern Michigan forced a third game by virtue of a 5-1 win over visiting No. 7 seed Nebraska-Omaha.
Based on the above results, the remaining scenarios are as follows:
- If NMU wins its series, the Wildcats would be the third-highest remaining seed and would advance to the semi’s. The ND-FSU winner then would play host to BG in the “play-in” game, to determine the final semi-finalist (that game would be Tuesday, March 14).
- If Nebraska-Omaha completes the upset at NMU, then UNO would be the fourth-highest remaining seed and would play host to BG in the play-in game, with the ND-FSU winner advancing directly to the semi-finals.
Notre Dame is all too familiar with its present situation, as the Irish opened the CCHA playoffs in 1998 and ’99 with victories before losing the second game (and ultimately dropping the third as well). The combination of Friday 4-3 win by the Irish and Saturday’s decisive win for FSU is similar to the 1998 series at the Joyce Center, which saw Notre Dame win a tight opener (3-2) before dropping a 7-1 game to NMU on the second night.
The Bulldogs claimed at early 1-0 lead, with freshman right wing Phil Lewandowski scoring on the power play for his eighth goal of the season. Freshman defenseman Troy Milam set up the play with a shot from the center of the blueline, with senior left wing Brent Wishart nudging the puck to Lewandowski, who then flicked a shot from the top of the crease that beat Irish freshman goaltender Tony Zasowski to the glove side (4:04).
FSU sophomore right wing Rob Collins then scored his 11th goal of the season four minutes later, converting on a shot from the right side of the slot that was set up by passes from behind the net by McCullough and junior left wing Rob Lightfoot (8:33).
The Irish answered back moments later, as junior right wing Ryan Dolder scored his ninth goal of the season, with eight of them coming at the Joyce Center. Junior left wing Dan Carlson set up the power-play goal with a pass from the right side towards the center of the blueline. Dolder-who also scored in Friday’s win-skated to his left before rifling a shot between Osaer’s legs (11:12).
McCullough made the Irish pay for a turnover in the early moments of the second period, streaking in on the breakaway before lifting a backhand shot over Zasowski’s glove hand (0:45). The goal was FSU’s second shorthanded score of the weekend (seventh of the season) and represented the ninth man-down goal allowed by the Irish in 1999-2000.
McCullough then moved past MSU’s Adam Hall atop the CCHA goalscoring charts, netting his 24th goal of the season just 27 seconds into the third period. Collins and junior center Kevin Swider were credited with assists on McCullough’s power-play goal from the right side of a crowded crease area.
The Bulldogs then stretched to a 5-1 bulge less than two minutes later, as freshman left wing Chris Kunitz scored from the left side of the crease, again assisted by Swider, for his 20th goal of the season (1:59), with the Irish then electing to pull Zasowski for sophomore Jeremiah Kimento.
Freshman defenseman Troy Milam closed out the scoring with a 5-on-3 shot from the left circle, beating Kimento to the far right post for his sixth goal of the season, with assists from Kunitz and junior defenseman Scott Lewis (8:14).
Notre Dame Head Coach Dave Poulin: “We were not prepared to play in the first period. We regained it a little at 2-1 and we were in good shape. Then, we gave up that shorthanded goal, similar to the play last night. We did not play with the same intensity and focus as we did last night. … Intensity is up to each individual, then the entire team has it. I guarantee we will have it tomorrow night. … The shorthanded goal was definitely the back-breaker. … This is the third year in a row that we will go to a third game in the first round and I hope we have learned from it. A lot of these guys were in the locker room after losing those third games. And we have played well in those third games too. We just want a different result.”
Ferris State Head Coach Bob Daniels: “Obviously, McCullough’s goal was a big goal. … The game was really close until we got the sixth goal. I thought Notre Dame could still come back when it was 5-1. … Tonight was a little rough. It’s hard to keep the teams focused with all the emotion in the game.”
NOTES: The 21 shots were the fewest by ND in 14 games, since managing just 19 in a 6-0 loss at NMU on Jan. 14 … ND has totaled just six PP chances in the two playoff games … FSU is 9-for-30 on the PP in four games vs. ND this season (3-for-9 in both wins earlier this season) … Carlson has 6G-8A in the last nine games … senior D Sean Molina played in his 146th career game, becoming the ninth ND player-and just the third since 1982-to reach that milestone … ND has played 15 sets of back-to-back games vs. CCHA teams this season, with an 8-4-3 record in the first games (34 goals allowed) but just a 4-7-4 mark in the second games (51 GA).
FERRIS STATE 2 1 3 - 6NOTRE DAME 1 0 0 - 1
1st: FSU 1. Lewandowski 8 (Milam, Wishart), PP, 4:04, FSU 2. Collins 11 (McCullough, Lightfoot) 8:33, ND 1. Dolder 9 (Carlson), PP, 11:12.
2nd: FSU 3. McCullough 23 (unassisted), SH, 00:45.
3rd: FSU 4. McCullough 24 (Collins, Swider), PP, 00:27, FSU 5. Kunitz 20 (Swider) 1:59, FSU 6. Milam 6 (Kunitz, Lewis), 5-3, 8:14.
SHOTS: FSU 11-11-7/29, ND 4-7-10/21.
SAVES: FSU (Osaer) 3-7-10/20, ND 9-10-4/23 (Zasowski 9-10-1/20, Kimento 0-0-3/3).
POWER PLAY: FSU 3-for-11, ND 1-for-3.
PENALTIES: FSU 7 for 14:00, ND 15 for 30:00.