Jan. 18, 1997

Irish Bounce Back With 6-2 Win Over Alaska-Fairbanks

Notre Dame, Ind. — Twelve different Notre Dame players factored in the scoring and junior goaltender Matt Eisler turned in another solid effort, as the Irish defeated visiting Alaska Fairbanks, 6-2, to claim the season series in Central Collegiate Hockey Association action Saturday at the Joyce Center.

The win moved Notre Dame (7-15-1, 5-11-1 CCHA) back ahead of UAF (5-19-0, 5-16-0) into eighth place in the CCHA standings, with the Irish owning the tiebreaker by virtue of a 2-1 edge in head-to-head competition. The top eight teams advance to the CCHA Tournament at the conclusion of the 27-game regular season.

The Irish had a chance to move within a point of Ferris State but the Bulldogs (7-12-0) pulled off a 6-2 upset of league co-leader Miami on Saturday. In other CCHA action, Michigan downed Western Michigan, 8-5, to force a three-way tie atop the CCHA standings between Michigan, Miami and Lake Superior. WMU (5-8-3) fell behind Ferris into seventh place, just two points ahead of Notre Dame.

Junior center Steve Noble–who ended a 15-game goal drought in Friday’s 5-4 loss to UAF–scored what proved to be the game-winner on a power-play chance midway through the second period. Sophomore Brian Urick opened the scoring just 43 seconds into the game–the quickest goal scored by the Irish this season–and freshman defenseman Tyson Fraser added Notre Dame’s second goal late in the opening period.

The game began to mirror Friday’s meeting between the teams, when UAF spotted the Irish a 3-0 lead before scoring three times in four minutes to tie the game midway through the second period. This time, the Nanooks’ Jeff Trembecky and Rob Phillips scored in a four-minute span midway through the second but Irish senior defenseman Ben Nelsen halted the run just 14 seconds after Phillips’ goal, one-touching a shot from the slot that tucked inside the right post.

Notre Dame freshman Joe Dusbabek pushed Notre Dame’s lead to 5-2 with 4:35 remaining and sophomore Craig Hagkull added an empty-netter at the 18:22 mark.

The visitors were unable to capitalize on the absence of Urick for most of the game. In the closing moments of the first, Urick was whistled for a kicking penalty that carried with it a game disqualification and the Irish’s leading scorer then was forced to sit out for the final two periods. UAF could not convert on the ensuing five-minute power-play to open the second, with the Irish ultimately fighting off all four UAF man-up chances in the game.

Urick’s disqualification thrust freshman walkon Andy Jurkowski into the right wing spot on the second line and the converted defenseman held his own. Jurkowski–who recorded his first point of the season on an assist in Friday’s game–earned a spot on the roster late in the preseason and has played in seven recent games since improving at his newfound forward position.

Eisler stopped UAF’s first 20 shots on goal–just as he had the night before–and finished with 30 saves while notching his fifth victory of the season.

The series with UAF marked the first back-to-back games this season in which the Irish have scored three or more goals. In particular, the win over UAF served as a shot in the arm for a struggling Notre Dame offense that was converting on just 9.6% of its shots on goal prior to Saturday’s game. Despite being outshot by UAF (32-23), Notre Dame converted on 26% of its shots in the comfortable win.

Freshman Ben Simon assisted on three goals Saturday, extending his scoring streak to six games. Dusbabek’s goal and two assists marked his first multiple-point game of the season. Other multiple-point performers for the Irish included junior Lyle Andrusiak and sophomore Aniket Dhadphale, who each recorded two assists.

Fellow Minnetonka, Minn. natives Urick and Dusbabek now share the team lead in scoring, with matching totals of 11 goals and 10 assists. In six career games vs. UAF, Urick has totaled seven goals and three assists.

Saturday’s result evened the series, 3-3, between former Notre Dame teammates and roommates Dave Poulin and Dave Laurion. Poulin is in his second season as head coach at Notre Dame while Laurion is in his third season directing the UAF program. The pair helped lead the 1981-82 Irish to the championship game of the CCHA Tournament (Poulin as a forward, Laurion as a goalie). Nelsen’s timely goal was just his second of the season and first since netting the game-winner in the season opener vs. Western Ontario (2-1).

Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin: “We got the goals when we had the chances . . . and maybe having been through it last night helped, too. The key goal tonight was from Ben Nelsen, but that’s the kind of play the seniors have to make for us. It was a key time because it was certainly shaping up exactly like it was last night. . .but regardless of the outcome we were a lot better team tonight, there is no question.”

On Jurkowski’s play: “Andy stepped in. He has forced our hand more than anything. He walked on the team as a defenseman. We moved him up to forward and he impressed us with some of the things he did there. The lock system that we are playing fits right in with his style of play. And with Urick down, he had been playing left wing and we switched him over to right and I thought he did a nice job.”

ALASKA FAIRBANKS (5-18-0, 5-16-0 CCHA)  0   2   0   -   2NOTRE DAME  (6-15-1, 4-11-1 CCHA)       2   2   2   -   61st -  ND 1. Urick (Andrusiak, Dhadphale) 0:43;  ND 2. Fraser (Simon, Dusbabek) 18:38.   2nd - ND 3. Noble (Simon, Dusbabek), PP,  7:07;  UAF 1. Trembecky (Wynia, Williams) 13:10;  UAF 2. Phillips (Bowtell, Kirwan) 17:22;  ND 4. Nelsen (Dhadphale, Andrusiak) 17:36.   3rd - ND 5. Dusbabek (Lorenz, Simon) 15:25;  ND 6. Hagkull (Cotnoir, Dwyer), ENG, 18:22.Shots on goal: UAF 14-11-7/32, ND 10-5-8/23.   Saves: UAF (Marvel) 8-3-6/17, ND (Eisler) 14-9-7/30.   Power Play: UAF 0-for-4, ND 1-for-4.   Penalties: UAF 9 for 18:00, ND 10 for 31:00.