Hockey: Irish look to break slide 1 game at a time
BY JUSTIN SCHUVER
For the Irish to get back on the winning track, two things will have to happen this weekend in Bowling Green.
They have to win Friday.
They have to win Saturday.
"It's a very similar scenario to last year," Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin said. "We have to look after business Friday and then use that to get going on a confident roll."
Last season, the Irish went on a tear in the months of February and March, going 5-3-0 and using that momentum to engineer a first-round upset of Nebraska-Omaha in the CCHA playoffs.
A key to last season's finish was the stellar play of then-freshman goaltender Morgan Cey in net. The Irish netminder has been in a bit of a sophomore slump lately, going 1-5-4 in his last 10 starts.
To be fair, Cey hasn't been given much support, with the Irish offense scoring just 26 goals in those 10 contests.
"The break couldn't have come at a better time," Poulin said about his team's recent off weekend. "It helped us to work on some things."
The Falcons (7-17-2, 4-14-2 in the CCHA) should be the kind of opponent the Irish (9-13-6, 7-10-3) can use to start a winning streak, but the team isn't taking anything for granted right now.
Despite dominating Bowling Green twice at home in early December by scores of 6-3 and 5-2, the Irish can't afford to look past the Falcons, who are a .500 team in their home arena.
Bowling Green is led offensively by forward Mark Wires, with 11 goals and 10 assists. Forward Steve Brudzewski and defenseman Kevin Bieksa keep pace with 19 points each.
In goal, the Falcons are led by sophomore Jordan Sigalet, who holds an impressive .910 save percentage despite anchoring one of the worst defenses in the CCHA and facing whopping 39.3 shots a game.
The Irish have eight conference games remaining, all against teams who are on the lower end of the CCHA standings. They have a chance to improve upon their current standing of 10th place and perhaps make a late-season run at achieving home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
"This schedule is very favorable right now," Poulin said. "We just have to win our games. Our standing is a little misleading, but you have to look at it one way and that's to go up."
All Sports Stories for Friday, February 14, 2003