Dusbabek, Carlson lead ND to wins over WMU
By MATT OLIVA
Despite trailing 3-1 with less than four minutes remaining in the third period, the Irish hockey team did not panic and rallied for a 4-3 overtime victory over the Western Michigan Broncos.
The win in the first game of the two- game series was critical because a strong weekend would boost the Irish ahead of the Broncos and into 5th place in the CCHA. Losing would drop them further out of contention for a top seed in the playoffs.
In the last five minutes of the first game, the Irish would turn the game around. The only Irish goal had come in the first period on a fluke bounce off of Joe Dusbabek's leg. They had outplayed the Broncos throughout the entire game but had only a two-goal deficit to show for it. The Irish held their opponent to only one shot on goal for the entire third period, and out-shot the Broncos by an amazing 44 shots in the game, 56-12.
With 3 minutes, 26 seconds left in the game, the breaks started to go Notre Dame's way. David Inman scored off assists from Andy Jurkowski and Sean Seuferth to bring the game back within in one goal. Then, with about a minute and a half left in regulation, head coach Dave Poulin called a timeout to discuss a play. After pulling goaltender Tony Zasowski to give the Irish an extra attacker, the Irish won the ensuing face off and created a fury of shots in front of Bronco goaltender Jeff Reynaert.
Dusbabek knocked a shot off of the post and the rebound came out to junior left wing Dan Carlson, who put the puck in the net to tie the game at three with 1:23 left.
"We were on the power play in their end and we have to win the game," Poulin said. "We had worked on a new faceoff play with four or five options to score off of. We pulled the goalie early because in this situation we needed to win."
A major factor in the outcome of the game came with 28 seconds left as Western Michigan's Mike Bishai took a penalty that would prove costly. Reynaert lost his goal stick and Bishai gave him his, but then picked up the goal stick to play the puck himself. The penalty for illegal stick would carry over into the overtime period.
In overtime, Carlson was the hero once again. His goal 52 seconds into overtime ignited a celebration by both the Irish players and fans. Carlson's game-tying and game-winning goals gave the Irish a trilling comeback victory highlighted by three goals in the final 4:18.
"Dan Carlson was the best player on the ice tonight," said Poulin. "There were a lot of good players but he was definitely the best."
The Irish had 21 shots on goal in the second period with no goals to show for it. They came back out in the third and put 25 shots on goal. In addition to the impressive offensive showing the Irish defense took the Bronco's 2nd ranked powerplay out of the game — limiting them to few scoring chances.
"After the second period, I thought that we had played our best period of the year, until the third," Poulin said. "We were dominating and losing, but our attitude through the whole game was we are going to find a way to win. It was an enormous win for us."
Notre Dame carried the momentum over from the first game to take an early lead on Saturday night to pick up its second straight win with a 4-1 win.
Dusbabek scored less than seven minutes into the game on a hard slap shot from the blue line. With the lead the Irish kept the pressure up, both on offense and defense, and never looked back.
Ryan Dolder added a power play goal with six seconds remaining in the opening period to stretch the lead to two. Carlson added a power play goal early in the second to give Notre Dame eight power play goals in its last 13 goals scored.
The defense continued to keep Western Michigan off of their game, limiting the number of good scoring chances and effectively killing eight Notre Dame penalties.
Freshman Michael Chin scored the fourth Irish goal at the 15:51 mark of the second period — finally capitalizing after several good scoring chances earlier in the game.
Zasowski's shutout bid ended when Western Michigan finally found the back of the net seven minutes into the third period.
"We were much better tonight [in the second game]," Poulin said. "We had a controlled effort from the start. We give out game pucks to the guys that play very well and this time the puck went to the whole team."
Dusbabek finished the weekend with six points — one goal and two assists in each game — while Carlson added four points (2G-2A). All four Notre Dame lines contributed strong play to the offensive outburst in the series. The Irish scored seven goals over a 40-minute span carrying over from the last five minutes on Friday and into Saturday's game.
Notre Dame has struggled in the second games of series, but the strong play this weekend finally broke that problem. The Irish are now 5-2-2 in the first games and 2-5-2 in the second.
"It was definitely a factor going into the game," said Poulin. "We knew that we had to put back-to-back games together."
The sweep pushed Notre Dame (10-13-5, 7-7-4 CCHA) into sole possession of fifth place in the CCHA. The Irish trail the fourth-place Lake Superior State Lakers by just three points.
All Sports Stories for Monday, January 24, 2000