Icers head to New England for break
By BILL HART
Associate Sports Editor
While most college students will return home and savor some home-cooked meals this weekend, the Irish hockey team plans a road trip to New England, with the opportunity to feast on some ranked opponents.
Notre Dame will compete in the Diamond Anniversary Conference Classic in Durham, N.H., along with North Dakota, New Hampshire and Vermont.
While the Irish will not face off with the top-ranked Fighting Sioux, match-ups with the Wildcats and the Catamounts are on tap for Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
New Hampshire is currently ranked ninth in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll, sporting a 8-2-1 record and a 5-0-1 record in the Hockey East conference. The Wildcats' two losses this season have come at the hands of No. 8 Rensselear and Yale by scores of 6-0 and 5-1, respectively.
On a recent road trip to Massachusetts, New Hampshire tied Boston University 5-5 and defeated seventh-ranked Boston College 2-1 in overtime.
In the New Hampshire-Boston College game, the Eagles struck first early into the second period minutes before Wildcats' Jim Abbott got his third goal of the season from the blocker side. The Wildcats only needed 36 seconds of overtime to score again, when David Busch took a shot off a pass from Abbott into the left side of the goal.
"We know that for the last four or five years, they've been a top 10 team," senior defenseman Nathan Borega said about the Wildcats. "They're a really solid, really fast team."
The Catamounts, based in the ECAC conference, are currently 3-5-1 after struggling through a difficult opening non-conference schedule.
After defeating Princeton 6-4, Vermont played Dartmouth to a 1-1 tie this weekend. In that game, Catamount sophomore Bryson Busniuk tallied a goal with less than three minutes remaining to break up the potential Dartmouth shutout and send the game to overtime.
The Big Green outshot Vermont, 3-0, in overtime, but couldn't find the net as the game ended in a deadlock.
"We haven't played them much in the past," Borega said about Vermont. "But four or five years ago, they were another top 10 team. They've also got a lot of speed."
New Hampshire and Vermont played one another to open the regular season for both teams. The Wildcats took an early 2-0 lead en route to a 7-4 victory.
Notre Dame is on a winning streak of its own, following a two-game sweep — their first of the season — over conference rival Alaska-Fairbanks.
In the first game of that series, freshman goaltender Tony Zasowski tallied the first shutout of his collegiate career in a 1-0 victory. The only Irish goal of the game was scored by senior left wing Andy Jurkowski off a pass from sophomore Brett Henning, six minutes, 19 seconds into the game.
In the second game, the Irish came back from a 2-0 deficit in the third period with three goals over 12 minutes, topped by a score by freshman defenseman Evan Nielsen with 3:53 remaining in the game.
With last weekend off to recoup from a strenuous early season schedule, the Irish are prepared to take the ice again.
The Diamond Classic this weekend provides a stepping stone to even greater challenges, such as a two-game set against CCHA leader and third-ranked Michigan State on Dec. 3 and 4.
"This really sets the tables for us," Borega said about the weekend. "It's a chance to compete against top 10 opponents. Michigan State's a big rivalry for us, but this weekend will really give us a chance to prepare."
The match-up between the Irish and the Wildcats will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday, with the game between Notre Dame and Vermont set to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, November 23, 1999