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Irish face Ferris State

Justin Schuver | Friday, February 13, 2004

Hopefully, a trip back home will spark the Irish to a solid finish this season.The Irish (13-11-4, 9-10-3 in the CCHA) hope to put last weekend’s road sweep at the hands of Miami behind them as they return home to face the Ferris State Bulldogs (14-13-3, 9-12-1) in a two-game series this weekend at the Joyce Center.Notre Dame fell 5-2 last Friday and 2-0 on Saturday, falling below .500 in the CCHA for just the second time this season. The Irish hope a return to the Joyce Center will help spark the team back to finishing the season out strong.”I think this is a home-dominated league. I really do,” Irish coach Dave Poulin said. “Everybody’s got a good home record, and there’s only two teams, to the best of my knowledge, who have a winning record on the road right now.”That shows you right there that this is a league where it’s tough to win on the road. You’ve got to protect your home ice.”The next Irish win will be a milestone one, as Notre Dame currently has a record of 299-245-42 (.546) at the Joyce Center in the team’s history.”That’s pretty fun for me, because I’ve been here for some of those as a player and some as a coach, as well,” Poulin said. “Obviously, there were other coaches like Lefty Smith who had a hand in getting those wins, and it’ll be a real honor to hit that milestone.”To get that win, the Irish will face a Ferris State team which currently sits in ninth place in the CCHA with 19 points, two points behind the eighth-place Irish. That’s a far cry from last season, when the Bulldogs won the CCHA title.”I think that really shows just how competitive our conference is,” Poulin said. “They’re still a very good team. You really need to have all cylinders clicking in this league, and right now Miami and Michigan [the first and second place teams] are doing that, but after them, this league is wide open.”I still think you’re going to see a lot of movement yet in the standings over the last four weeks of the season.”This weekend’s series is big for both teams, who are fighting to finish in at least sixth place to guarantee home ice in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. This season, the Irish have had 37 of their 73 goals (50.7 percent) scored by three players – Rob Globke, Aaron Gill and Mike Walsh. If the team is to make any late-season run, Poulin said that more players will have to contribute on the offensive side of the ice.”There’s no question that we need more scoring from more people,” he said. “I think we’ve got good players who are going to score at this level but we need their goals now.”We really need to take some of the pressure off our three big guys.”The Irish face Ferris State at the Joyce Center Friday at 7:35 p.m. and Saturday at 7:35 p.m.