Buckeyes sweep Irish as CCHA hopes fade
By MATT ORENCHUK
With hopes of making the CCHA playoffs starting to fade away, the Notre Dame hockey team took the ice this past weekend against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus.
As the season winds down, the Irish know that they need to win some games to climb back into the playoff picture. Unfortunately, the necessary wins were not to come this past weekend. Ohio State swept the weekend series, winning 5-2 on Friday night, and 5-3 on Saturday night. When Ohio State visited the Joyce Center two weeks ago, it was the freshmen who propelled the Buckeyes to victory. This past weekend saw more of the same.
Ohio State's freshmen score early in Friday night' s game, building a 3-0 lead midway through the second period. Freshmen Dave Steckel and RJ Umberger each had a goal and Junior Mike McCormick chipped in for the lead. In contrast, the sole bright spot for the Irish was Dan Carlson's two goals.
"Dan Carlson played great this weekend," said Notre Dame head coach Dave Poulin. "He was definitely the premier performer for us."
Saturday's game was mostly more of the same, though the Irish felt that they played better, and were one or two bounces away from tying the game. "We felt like we outplayed (Ohio State) on Saturday." Irish captain Ryan Dolder said. "Two of their goals were questionable."
Umberger continued to wow for the Buckeyes, putting up a goal and three assists to contribute four points to the victory.
Both games this weekend were played in goal by Tony Zasowski. The sophomore has been less than stellar in posting a 3-11-2 mark for Notre Dame this year. Stability and consistency has been lacking with the goaltending. The entire year has been a rotation between junior Jeremiah Kimento, senior Kyle Kolquist and Zasowski. Now, with Zasowski taking both losses this weekend, Coach Dave Poulin was unsure as to who would end up in the net for Notre Dame this weekend.
"To be honest with you, I don't know who I will go with this weekend," Poulin said.
Before the weekend series, Notre Dame stood 2 points out of the last playoff spot. Now they have fallen to four points back. That doesn't mean, however, that the Irish playoff hopes are completely out of reach just yet. Bowling Green swept Lake Superior State this past weekend. This means that Bowling Green is currently holding the last playoff spot. Notre Dame plays the Falcons this weekend at home. If the Irish should sweep Bowling Green, then they would jump into the last playoff spot, and hold the tiebreaker.
"We basically have to sweep the next two series' to keep the playoff hopes alive," said Dolder. "That means we have to be at the top of our game."
That is a huge proposition for a team that hasn't swept a series all year. But the Irish know exactly what they have to do in the coming weeks.
"It's do or die time," said Dolder.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, February 6, 2001