Jan. 28, 1997

No. 6 Michigan State Pulls Away From Notre Dame, 3-0

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior Chad Alban made 31 saves while picking up his fifth career shutout and his 50th victory as #6-ranked Michigan State pulled away from a depleted Notre Dame unit in Central Collegiate Hockey Association action Tuesday at the Joyce Center.

The Spartans are the first team to shut out the Irish since Dec. 10, 1994, when Notre Dame and Miami University skated to a rare 0-0 tie at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame’s last shutout loss came on Feb. 11, 1994, a 6-0 defeat at Western Michigan.

The victory moved MSU (16-7-3, 12-3-3 CCHA) into a tie with Lake Superior (12-5-0) for second place in the league standings while Notre Dame (5-12-1) failed to make up ground on seventh-place Western Michigan (5-8-4). The Irish remain a point ahead of Alaska Fairbanks (5-17-0) and Ohio State (5-13-0) in the race for the eighth and final CCHA Tournament spot.

Notre Dame junior goaltender Matt Eisler made 33 saves–including several memorable saves that kept the game at 1-0–while lowering his season goals-against average to 3.26 (lowest by an Irish goalie since 1971).

MSU senior Steve Ferranti scored in the first three minutes of the second period and junior Sean Berens did the same in the third. Berens then added his team-leading 19th goal of the season midway through the third.

Notre Dame played without two of its more crucial regulars (particularly on the power play). Freshman forward Ben Simon and first-year defenseman Tyson Fraser both were lost in last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of #8 St. Cloud State (Simon to a disqualification penalty and Fraser to injury). Simon’s is Notre Dame’s fifth-leading scorer, including 13 assists (second most on the team) and owns an active eight-game point streak. Fraser has been a major force behind Notre Dame’s renewed defensive unit and ranks fifth in the CCHA for scoring among freshmen defensemen.

The Irish elected to go with five defensemen for much of the game while junior Steve Noble moved from center to Simon’s left wing spot (Noble played on the left for his first 20 games of the season).

MSU’s nation-leading penalty-killing unit (91%) held the Irish in check on four power-play chances while the teams committed just five penalties each in the game.

The Spartans padded their lead early in the second period when senior Brian Crane collected a shot off the back boards and sent a centering pass from the right endline. Berens took the pass in the slot and faked a shot before flicking the puck into the upper right corner of the net (3:03).

MSU stretched to a 3-0 lead at the 12:17 mark of the third, when Berens took an odd-man rush shot from the left circle that Eisler was unable to clear. The puck hit off Eisler’s stick but bounced to the right side of the crease, where Berens poked home the game-clinching goal.

MSU jumped ahead three minutes into the second period on Ferranti’s eighth goal of the season, following a roughing penalty to Irish freshman Nathan Borega. Ferranti initiated the power-play score, sending a pass from between the circles to junior Mike Watt, who received the pass near the left back boards and skated to the right before sending a pass back to the top of the crease. Ferranti was filling the middle and one-touched a low shot inside the left post (3:07).

The teams played to a scoreless first period, with each squad managing 10 shots on goal and failing on two power-play chances each.

Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin:
“We’ve gotta score. We had terrific chances in the first period–missed the net a couple of times when we had terrific opportunities. We’ve got to put them away. We’ve got to score goals. … They are a veteran hockey club. They got one and then they hang on and hang on and then their best player gets two. The (last) one was blatant domination, just a mistake for a chip in. But you can’t win with no goals. … I don’t think we’ve taken a step back. We are a team that is thin right now. . . . (Fraser and Simon) are two of our players that have great roles for this team. We are looking for someone to step it up right now. On the back side I thought (freshman defensemen) Sean Seyferth did and Sean Molina did a nice job, and I thought (sophomore) Scott Giuliani did a good job (filling in for Fraser). On the front end, somebody has got to pick it up. Someone has got to step in there and be the man for Simon.”

MICHIGAN STATE (15-7-3, 13-3-3 CCHA)    0    1    0    -    1NOTRE DAME  (8-16-1, 5-11-1 CCHA)       0    0    0    -    01st - No scoring.  2nd - MSU 1. Ferranti 8 (Watt), PP, 3:07. 3rd - MSU 2. Berens 18 (Crane) 3:03;  MSU 3. Berens 13 (Crane).Shots on goal: MSU 10-14-12/36, ND 10-13-10/33.   Saves: MSU (Alban)10-12-9/31,ND (Eisler) 10-13-10/33.  Power Play: MSU 1-for-4, ND 0-for-4.    Penalties: MSU5 for 10:00, ND 5 for 10:00.