March 7, 2003
Marquette, Mich. – After 35 regular season games and 27 CCHA games, it will all come down to the final night of the season to decide the final home playoff spots in the upcoming CCHA playoffs.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish did their part Friday night to stay in the thick of the battle for home-ice with a huge 3-2 win on the road at Northern Michigan’s Berry Events Center.
Notre Dame got single goals from Matt Amado, Jake Wiegand and Tim Wallace and goaltender Morgan Cey made 21 saves to give the Irish the win.
The victory, coupled with Western Michigan’s loss to Michigan State on Friday night, moves Notre Dame into sole possession of fifth-place with one game left in the season. The Irish will need just one point in Saturday’s game to clinch a home-ice playoff spot.
Notre Dame has now won six of its last seven games to improve to 15-14-6 on the season and 13-11-3 in CCHA play, good for 29 points. Northern Michigan is now 17-16-2 and 13-13-1 in the CCHA for 27 points. The Wildcats are now tied for sixth with Western Michigan, Alaska Fairbanks and Miami of Ohio.
The Irish didn’t waste anytime in taking the early lead as they scored twice in the first period on the play of the line of Jake Wiegand, Matt Amado and Cory McLean.
Amado gave the Irish a 1-0 lead at the 6:39 mark of the period with his fifth goal of the year and his third in the last four game. The freshman center hustled through center ice creating a 2-on-1 with Wiegand. He pulled the defenseman toward him and slid the puck to Wiegand who had his backhander stopped by goaltender Craig Kowalski. The rebound went to McLean who followed with a shot that Kowalski stopped. Amado flipped that rebound over Kowalski to give the Irish the lead.
McLean and Wiegand combined on the second goal as McLean forced a Wildcat defenseman to turn the puck over in the slot. The sophomore right wing was able to direct the puck to Wiegand who fired it home at 13:39 for his sixth goal of the season.
Northern Michigan was able to get on the board at 15:47 to cut the lead to 2-1. Alan Swanson rapped the rebound of Kevin Gardner’s shot from the slot past Morgan Cey for his eighth lamplighter of the season.
The Wildcats would tie the game just over six minutes into the second period on the power play. Senior center Chris Gobert blasted a slapshot past Cey from the top of the left wing circle that beat the Irish goaltender to the glove side at 6:10 of the stanza. The goal was Gobert’s 11th of the season and the game was tied 2-2.
Notre Dame would take a 3-2 lead into the third period due to more strong forechecking by the Irish. Mike Walsh and Kyle Dolder did all the work and Timmy Wallace got the goal at 13:19 for his fifth of the season.
Walsh carried the puck out of the left wing corner and fed Wallace for a shot from the right side that Kowalski made a pad save on. The rebound bounced out to the left wing circle where Dolder beat the Wildcat defense and fired a shot that was stopped in front. Wallace got the puck on his backhand and slid it past Kowalski and the left post to give the Irish the lead.
From there it was up to Cey to hold the fort in the third period and he did stopping all eight shots he faced. The Wildcats best scoring chance came with 3:50 left when he stopped defenseman Jimmy Jackson who broke in from the right points and was able to get a close-in scoring bid, but Cey came up big.
For the game, Northern Michigan outshot the Irish 23-22. Cey finished with 21 saves, while Kowalski had 19 for the Wildcats.
The Irish and Wildcats will wrap up the season on Satuday night at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
IRISH HOCKEY NOTES:
** Notre Dame’s 13-11-6 record in the CCHA guarantees the Irish of their first winning record in the CCHA regular season since the 1999-2000 season when they were 11-10-7 in league play.
** On February 1st, the Irish were in 10th-place with a 7-10-3 record. Since then, the Irish have gone 6-1-0 to improve to 13-11-3 and are now in fifth-place heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale with Northern Michigan.
** Friday’s win at Northern Michigan moved head coach Dave Poulin into a tie for second on Notre Dame’s all-time win list with 112. He is tied with Ric Schafer who had 112 between 1987-95. Charles “Lefty” Smith (1968-87) is the all-time win leader with 307 in his career.
** With two assists in the game, Cory McLean now has career-highs in goals (9), assists (6) and points (15).
** Freshman Matt Amado has scored in four of his last five games (3g, 2a). For the season, he has five goals and five assists for 10 points.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 F
Notre Dame (15-14-6/13-11-3) 2 1 0 3
Northern Michigan (17-16-2/13-13-1) 1 1 0 2
First Period: ND: Matt Amado 5 (Jake Wiegand, Cory McLean), 6:39; ND: Wiegand 6 (McLean), 13:39; NMU: Alan Swanson 8 (Andrew Cotnois, Kevin Gardner), 15:47.
Penalties: ND: 1 for 2 minutes; NMU: 2 for 4 minutes
Second Period: NMU: Chris Gobert 11 (Bryce Cockburn, Jimmy Jackson), PPG, 6:10; ND: Tim Wallace 5 (Kyle Dolder, Mike Walsh), 13:19.
Penalties: ND: 4 for 8 minutes; NMU: 3 for 6 minutes.
Third Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes; NMU: 0 for 0 minutes.
Shots On Goal:
Notre Dame 9 – 10 – 3 – 22
Northern Michigan 11 – 4 – 8 – 23
ND – Morgan Cey (60:00) 10 – 3 – 8 – 21
NMU – Craig Kowalski (59:11) 7 – 9 – 3 – 19
ND: 0 for 3
NMU: 1 for 5