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Irish suffer pair of losses to No. 7 Miami

Justin Schuver | Monday, February 9, 2004

OXFORD, Ohio – The student section at Goggin Ice Arena was singing “Na, Na, Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye” at the end of both games this weekend against the Irish. That’s not a good thing if you’re an Irish fan.

Notre Dame’s success this season against ranked teams on the road finally ran out as the Irish dropped a pair of games on the road against conference-opponent Miami.

Despite keeping Miami’s highly potent power play – the best in the CCHA this season – off the scoreboard, the Irish were unable to take care of business against the RedHawks, falling 5-2 Friday night and 2-0 Saturday.

“If you would have told me at the start of this series that they would be 0-for on the power play and that we would score a power play goal, I would have thought that we’d be in good shape for the weekend,” Irish coach Dave Poulin said.

It was a disappointing outcome for the Irish, who defeated Miami two games to one at Goggin Arena to advance to the CCHA’s Super Six in Detroit last season. Both those wins were shutout victories, pitched by then-sophomore goaltender Morgan Cey.

“We came in here with very high expectations,” Poulin said. “We knew we were playing a very good team, but we’ve had success in this building and were coming off a good weekend against Alaska [Fairbanks].”

The Irish have already beaten several ranked teams on the road this season, including then-No. 1 Boston College and then-No. 4 Wisconsin, but they were unable to duplicate that success against No. 7 Miami, who now leads the CCHA by three points over Michigan.

Cey started both games for the Irish, playing well in each but unable to outplay Miami’s Brandon Crawford-West, who started both games for the RedHawks. Crawford-West made 33 saves in Miami’s shutout win Saturday, the third time this season that the Irish have been shutout.

“We couldn’t solve the kid, although I thought we played great. We had great chances all night, but we just couldn’t score a goal,” Poulin said.

Friday, the Irish were completely outplayed in a first period that saw the RedHawks outshoot the Irish 13-4. Notre Dame was fortunate to only be down by one goal at the end of the period. That goal was scored by Geoff Smith, who made a nifty stickhandling move to beat Morgan Cey five-hole at 14:24 of the first.

Miami’s momentum continued into the second period, as the RedHawks would score three more unanswered goals. Taylor Huestad beat Cey with a low shot five minutes into the second period, and Derek Edwardson connected on a wrap-around goal just 53 seconds later.

The net appeared to come off its moorings before Edwardson’s goal, but the Irish appeal was overturned and Miami went up 3-0. The RedHawks made it a four-goal lead at 11:23 when Smith and Todd Grant scored on a quick tic-tac-toe play with the Irish defense nowhere in sight.

“Last night we were just outplayed. They played much better than we did,” Poulin said Saturday.

Notre Dame got on the board with a power play goal after defenseman Brian Sipotz was sent off for holding. A Miami defenseman tried to clear the puck, but it hit Irish forward Josh Sciba in the back. Sciba collected the puck and blasted it past Crawford-West.

Irish captain Aaron Gill added a goal of his own with less than a minute left in the second period, coming out of a scrum in the corner with the puck and shooting it past the Miami goalie on the blocker side from the left circle.

Notre Dame came out buzzing in the third, hoping to continue what would have been their biggest comeback of the season. Mike Kompon would have none of it, however, as he beat Cey to the glove side on a 2-on-1 break just 1:48 into the final period.

Saturday, the Irish came out of the gate better, outshooting the RedHawks 13-10 in the first period. Unfortunately, the scoreboard still read the same as Friday, this time with Andy Nelson collecting the tally for Miami. A defensive breakdown by the Irish saw two Notre Dame defenders skate toward Kompon, who found a wide-open Nelson in the slot.

“There was a much better start tonight,” Poulin said Saturday. “Throughout the game we were really getting good chances. You’re going to have nights like this when the pucks just aren’t going in.”

Neither team would score in the second, and the Irish came out buzzing once against at the start of the third. Unfortunately, a strange 2-on-1 break would lead to a Miami goal.

Greg Hogeboom skated down the left side and attempted to send a pass across the crease to his teammate. An Irish defender blocked the pass, sending the puck right back to a surprised Hogeboom, who wristed it past Cey.

The Irish hope to put this disappointing weekend behind them as they return home this weekend to face Ferris State in a two-game series at the Joyce Center.