Jan. 31, 1997

Lake Superior Surges Past Visiting Notre Dame, 6-3

Irish lose some ground in CCHA standings, Lakers just three points off the pace

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State scored three timesin the final seven minutes, including a two-goal outburst in sevenseconds, to surge past visiting Notre Dame, 6-3, in Central CollegiateHockey Association action Friday at the Taffy Abel Arena.

Lake Superior (17-9-4, 13-5-3 CCHA) moved ahead of Michigan State(12-4-3) into sole possession of second place in the CCHA, just threepoints back of frontrunner Michigan (15-1-2), with three crucial leaguegames remaining between the Lakers and Wolverines.

The loss dropped Notre Dame (8-18-1, 5-13-1) five points behind WesternMichigan (6-8-4), which skated to a 3-2 win at home over MSU to movepast idle Ferris State (7-12-1) into sixth place in the CCHA standings. The eighth-place Irish trail FSU by four points, with the top eightteams from the 27-game league season advancing the CCHA Tournament(5-13-0 Ohio State and 5-17-0 Alaksa-Fairbanks are tied for ninth, apoint back of Notre Dame).

Notre Dame and Lake Superior will conclude their season series Saturdaynight at Abel Arena.

In other CCHA action, Miami (12-5-4) skated to a 2-2 tie at BowlingGreen (8-9-3), with the Redskins holding onto fourth place and theFalcons remained in fifth.

The Irish held an early 1-0 lead and then twice scored to tie the score,the last coming on senior defenseman ben Nelsen’s breakaway goal midwaythrough the final period. But LSSU senior Mitch Lane poked home arebound goal at the 13:51 mark and junior Joe Blaznek scored his secondgoal of the game just seven seconds later, bringing the 3,663 Abel Arenafans to their feet. Junior Bates Battaglia rifled in a shot from theleft point with 3:49 remaining to cap the scoring.

Notre Dame junior goaltender Matt Eisler again started strong, making 16of his 33 saves in the first period while shutting out the Lakers, butallowed his most goals in four weeks after the LSSU surge. Eisler hadallowed just 2.26 goals in his last four games. In his last sixoutings, he has racked up 78 first period saves while allowing just twogoals in the first 20 minutes during that span.

The final five minutes of the second period provided some of the biggestmoments of the game, as the Irish failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3opportunity before LSSU sophomore Jason Sessa scored to push the Lakersback into the lead 3-2. Notre Dame had the two-man advantage after aslashing penalty to Mike Peron and a roughing penalty to Mitch Lane butjunior John Grahame (who made 26 saves) and the Lakers defense held offthe visitors.

Sessa’s goal came after a perfect lead pass from defenseman GinoPulente, who fired the puck from his own zone and hit Sessa in stride atthe Irish blue line. Sessa broke free and beat Eisler to the upperright corner for his 18th goal of the season (18:18).

Lake Superior recorded the first 12 shots on goal and held the Irishwithout a shot until 4:20 remained in the opening period. But shortlythereafter, the Irish jumped ahead on their first power-play chance ofthe game, as sophomore Benoit Cotnoir slid a pass across the bluelinefor freshman defenseman Sean Seyferth, who sent a slapshot from the leftpoint that deflected off of Grahame and into the net (17:56).

The Lakers scored two quick goals in the opening moments of the secondperiod to snatch a 2-1 lead. Pulenta fed sophomore Tobin Praznik on thefirst goal, with Praznik beating Eisler to the glove side just 39seconds into the period. Sessa then set up a goal by Blaznek 77 secondslater and the hosts had their first of three leads in the game.

Junior Steve Noble re-tied the game for Notre Dame midway through thesecond, tipping home a rebound shot after another Seyferth power-playblast from the left point (9:35). It marked just the fourth time thisseason the Irish had scored two power-play goals in the same game.

Lane scored what proved to be the game-winner after Peron received thepuck off the boards from Grahame and muscled his way along the leftendline before touching a shot on goal. Eisler stopped the soft shotbut Lane was in position to nudge the puck into the net.

On the ensuing faceoff, Fred Slukynsky won the draw and Blaznek came upwith the puck on the left side before beating Eisler with a quick shotfrom inside the circle.

NOTRE DAME  (8-18-1, 5-13-1 CCHA)            1    1    1    -    3LAKE SUPERIOR STATE (17-9-4, 13-5-3 CCHA)    0    3    3    -    61st - ND 1. Seyferth 3 (Cotnoir, Noble) 17:562nd - LS 1. Praznik 5 (Pulente, Marchant), PP, 0:39; LS 2. Blaznek 18 (Sessa, Wynes);      ND 2, Noble 7 (Seyferth, Dusbabek), PP, 9:35; LS 3. Sessa 18 (Pulente), 4-4, 18:18.3rd - ND 3. Nelson (Dhadphale) 9:13; LS 4. Lane (Peron, Grahame) 13:51; LS 5. Blaznek 19      (unassisted) 13:58; LS 6. Battaglia 11 (unassisted) 16:11.Shots on goal: ND 5-14-10/29, LS 16-15-8/39. Saves: ND (Eisler) 16-12-5/33,LS (Grahame) 4-13-9/26.  Power Play: ND 2-for-7, LS 1-for-5.  Penalties: ND9 for 18:00, LS 11 for 22:00.