Feb. 8, 1997

Ohio State Posts 4-3 Win At Notre Dame To Solidify Eighth Place, Take Season Series

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame freshman Joe Dusbabek misfired on a penalty shot late in the second period and Ohio State senior Pierre Dufour made him pay, scoring the game-winner seven minutes into the third, as surging Ohio State overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat Notre Dame, 4-3, in a series-clinching Central Collegiate Hockey Association game Saturday in front of another sellout crowd (2,667) at the Joyce Center.

Ohio State (9-22-0, 7-15-0 CCHA), which beat the Irish 5-3 on Friday, remained two points ahead of Alaska-Fairbanks (6-17-0) in the race for the eighth and final spot in the CCHA Tournament while Notre Dame (5-15-1) fell into 10th place for the first time this season. UAF edged past the Irish thanks to a 7-5 win Saturday at Bowling Green.

The Irish are 8-21-1 overall, with more than half (11) of those defeats coming by one goal, including eight such narrow defeats in CCHA play.

OSU lost its earlier series vs. UAF, which then lost to Notre Dame, which Saturday dropped its series with the Buckeyes. Should those three teams finished tied in the final CCHA standings, Notre Dame would earn the second tiebreaker (the teams are even on the first tiebreaker, with each going 3-3 vs. the other two). The second tiebreaker is based on goal differential in the two series, with Notre Dame at +5, UAF even and OSU -5.

The Buckeyes have won three of their last five league games and now stand just a point back of seventh-place Ferris State (7-14-1), which lost 3-2 at home to another surging team, Western Michigan (9-8-4). WMU’S win moved the Broncos ahead of BGSU (9-11-3) into fifth place. In other CCHA action Saturday, Michigan State beat frontrunner Michigan (17-2-2) by a scored of 2-1, pushing the Spartans (13-5-3) in to a tie with Miami (14-6-1) for third place (14-6-3 Lake Superior is second).

Notre Dame elected to sit down three regulars who all had played in the previous 28 games–junior forward Lyle Andrusiak (6 G, 12 A), sophomore forward Aniket Dhadphale (4 G, 16 A) and sophomore defenseman Benoit Cotnoir (5 G, 10 A)–and the Irish players who dressed for the game responded in stunning fashion, jumping ahead 2-0 in the first six minutes behind goals from freshmen Joe Dusbabek and Andy Jurkowski.

The visitors had an answer to the Irish flurry, as senior Jarret Whidden scored at the 8:40 mark of the opening period (just his fourth goal of the season) before classmate Chad Power followed suit 59 seconds later to tie the game.

A pair of defensemen–OSU’s Ryan Root and Notre Dame’s Ben Nelsen–then traded goals in a two-minute stretch midway through the second period, setting the stage for Dusbabek and Dufour.

OSU outshot its hosts by a significant margin, 34-23, but the Irish held the CCHA’s third-most efficient power-play unit to an 0-4 night for the second straight game.

Dufour’s clinching goal was set up by sophomore Chris Richards, who dug the puck out of the left corner before firing a pass into the crease. Dufour was stationed near the far right post and was able to tap the puck into the net (7:04).

The penalty shot was set up after Notre Dame senior Terry Lorenz flailed at the puck as he was falling down near the left side of the crease. Lorenz made contact and appeared to be sweeping the puck into the net when Root illegally covered the puck near the goal line. The Irish went with the right-handed Dusbabek on the rare penalty shot try (Notre Dame’s first of the season) and the CCHA’s top-scoring rookie skated in on Aho before whistling a rising shot several feet wide of the right post, with Aho pumping his stick in the air after the missed attempt.

The Irish jumped ahead at the 2:28 mark of the opening period, after Dusbabek picked off a pass at the blueline and sent a shot from the slot into the upper right corner of the net. Roughly three minutes later, Jurkowski–a late walk-on addition and converted defenseman–netted the first goal of his career, poking the puck into a wide open net after deflected shots by freshman Troy Bagne and Nelsen.

Whidden put OSU on the board at the 8:40 mark, barely sneaking the puck under sprawled Irish junior goaltender Matt Eisler, who had dove to his left after Whidden pounced on a deflection. Less than a minute later, Power netted his 18th goal of the season and third of the weekend, putting back a deflected shot by freshman Hugo Boisvert.

Midway through the second period, Bagne was maneuvering for a solid scoring chance at the OSU blueline but lost the puck. The Buckeyes quickly capitalized, rushing out on a rare 4-on-1 break. Sophomore Brandon LaFrance led the break and sent a pass to the right side for Dufour, who then sent the puck back to the left side of the crease. Root was trailing on the play and had an easy tap in for a 3-2 OSU lead.

Nelsen netted Notre Dame’s second shorthanded goal of the season less than two minutes later, after sophomore Brian Urick picked off a pass at the OSU blueline, skated down the right side and dropped the puck between the circles. Nelsen was in perfect position and one-touched a shot past OSU goaltender Ray Aho.

Aho did come up with a big stop on Nelsen with 3:44 remaining in the second period. The Irish veteran sent a shot from the right point as Aho was skating out of the crease. Aho deflected the shot over his head and then quickly turned and dove, smothering the puck before it could trickle in for what would have been an Irish go-ahead goal.

Ohio State Coach John Markell: “I thought Notre Dame played a lot better tonight than they did last night. I don’t think we played quite as well, but they had a spirited effort and I thought that Eisler again played very well. I think in the first 14 minutes of the second period we could have possibly ended it, but it’s a whole team effort and we are very happy with the win.”

Notre Dame Coach Dave Poulin
On the game: “We got off to a quick start, but the breakdowns continue . . . and they are mental breakdowns. We are a 10th-place team mentally right now. I don’t think physically, but the mental aspect is taking us to that level. … We didn’t react very well to the pressure of the weekend and we have to, we simply have to learn how to do that. We are never going to be a good hockey team until we learn how to react to that.”

On having some changes in the lineup: “I don’t think we played poorly. We did some good things, we had to create more offense obviously … There have been guys that have not been up to my expectations and there is a burden that comes with it. You have a responsibility to play hockey when you are playing hockey. As a team, you go through different stages, but there’s a point when you wonder just how much you have to go through. We will get there, though.”

                               Pen    PPOhio State        2-1-1--4    6-12   0-4Notre Dame        2-1-0--3    6-12   0-3Per.   Time   Team  Goal Scorer (Assists)1       2:28  UND   Dusbabek-12 (unassisted)1       5:51  UND   Jurkowski-1 (Bagne, Nelsen)1       8:40  OSU   Whidden-3 (McMillan)1       9:39  OSU   Power-18 (Boisvert)2       9:59  OSU   Root-8 (Dufour, Lafrance)2      11:51  UND   Nelsen-4 (Urick) sh3       7:04  OSU   Dufour-11 (Richards, Schaffnit)Saves:  OSU - Ray Aho      8- 9-6--23   60:00        UND - Matt Eisler  7-19-8--34   60:00Attendance:  2,667-sellout (Joyce Center)UND's Joe Dusbabek stopped on a penalty shot at 18:27 of the second period.