Hockey: Irish look for surge to playoffs
By: MATT ORENCHUK
After a weekend off, the Notre Dame men's hockey team hits the road this weekend to take on the Lake Superior State Lakers. The biggest question for the Irish will be whether the time off will help or hurt the team.
The last game Notre Dame played was a big one. They defeated No. 3 ranked Michigan State on the Spartans home ice. The Irish win ended Michigan State's 33-game home winning streak, and snapped Notre Dame's six game losing streak.
However, any momentum the Irish gained from that win might have been negated by the two weeks in which all they have done is skate in practice. At the same time, the time off might also help heal those nagging injuries that always seem to occur in the final stretch of the season.
Lake Superior State currently is last in the CCHA with a 4-18-2 conference record. Two of the conference losses for the Lakers were to Notre Dame back in December. The Irish defeated Lake Superior State 7-0 and 5-2 for a two game sweep.
Lake Superior State's leading scorer is Adam Nightingale, who has six goals and nine assists over the season. Unlike Notre Dame, who has stuck with goaltender Morgan Cey most of the season, Lake State likes to rotate their goaltenders. Matt Violin has appeared in 15 games, Terry Denike 14, and Scott Murray 10. Violin has the best stats of the three, with a 3-6-2 record and a .920 save percentage.
The Irish are looking to play some consistent hockey going into the final two weeks of the season. Offensively, Notre Dame has been consistent this season. They currently have the No. 6 scorer in the league in Connor Dunlop, and the No. 10 scorer in David Inman.
The uncertainty lies with the Notre Dame defense. On Feb. 2 and 3, the Irish gave up 13 goals in two losses to Alaska-Fairbanks. The next weekend against Michigan State the defense only gave up four goals in splitting the series.
For Notre Dame, these last two weekends of hockey will determine positioning for the CCHA playoffs. Currently the Irish are ninth in the CCHA with 20 points.
The drive to the finish for the Notre Dame hockey team will begin when the puck drops at 7:05 p.m.
All Sports Stories for Friday, February 22, 2002