Irish to face test at Miami
Justin Schuver | Friday, October 15, 2004
Just because midterms are out of the way, doesn’t mean the tests are over for the Irish.
A week after tying and losing to No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth at home, Notre Dame now travels across the border to take on No. 9 Miami (Ohio) in a two game series Friday and Saturday to open CCHA play for both teams.
The Irish then return home Oct. 22 to take on No. 1 Boston College at the Joyce Center.
“This is the same type of schedule that put us where we wanted to go last year,” Irish coach Dave Poulin said. “Obviously you’d like to ease into it a little bit, since we’ll be playing our first five games against ranked teams.
“It’s also a great gauge, and last week I thought we showed something against Duluth. Obviously we’ve got a lot we still have to work on, but we’ve been practicing a lot and we’ll be better this weekend.”
Notre Dame was 0-2 at the Goggin Ice Arena in Oxford, Ohio, last year – losing its two games by scores of 5-2 and 2-0. The Irish stunned a capacity crowd in Chestnut Hill, Mass., defeating the then-No. 1 Golden Eagles in their home opener by a score of 1-0 after freshman goalie David Brown pitched a shutout.
But memories of last season are erased from Notre Dame’s mind, now.
One factor that has loomed large so far for the Irish this season is the lack of production on the power play. That could prove to be a problem heading to Miami, where the RedHawks are 2-0 on the young season.
More notably, they have also yet to allow a power play goal by an opponent.
“I look at our power play in the fact that we lost five tremendous seniors who all played a great deal of time on the power play last season,” Poulin said. “We have to figure out what components fit where.
“We worked on it three days this week at practice, and I’ve never spent that much time on special teams since I’ve been a coach.”
The RedHawks were one of the surprise teams in the CCHA last season, picked to finish sixth in the 2003-04 preseason poll and ending the season in second place overall just behind conference regular season champion Michigan.
A big part of that success was the play of three seniors – Derek Edwardson, Mike Kompon and Greg Hogeboom. All three ranked in the top five in the CCHA in scoring, with Edwardson winning the CCHA Player of the Year award as a result of his league-leading 48 points.
All three seniors are gone from this year’s RedHawks team, but they don’t appear to have missed a beat. Miami won the Lefty McFadden Invitational Tournament in Dayton, Ohio, knocking off Boston University 5-1 Friday and then defeating Northeastern 6-2 Saturday.
The RedHawks and Irish are two of the youngest teams in the CCHA this season – Miami and Notre Dame each have just three seniors on its roster.
“They’re a team that’s very similar to ours,” Poulin said. “They lost five very very good seniors so they’re a team that really has to just get out there and skate. I’m hoping that both teams can just skate through the penalty situations this weekend and we can have a great series.”
Yet for the Irish so far the top player has been one of those three seniors. Goalie Morgan Cey started Notre Dame’s 2-2 tie against Minnesota-Duluth Friday, making 38 saves on the way to be naming the Perani No. 1 Star of the Game. He is expected to start the first game against the RedHawks, as well.
The senior has a 4-4-0 career average against Miami, with two shutouts.
“[Cey] may have had as good a week [at practice] as any goalie I’ve ever coached here had,” Poulin said. “He’s been tremendous this week. He’s stronger physically, really sharp mentally and just looks to be in tremendous control.”
After dealing with the RedHawks, the Irish return home to the Joyce Center to face Boston College in a one-game series for the John A. “Snooks” Kelly-Charles “Lefty” Smith Trophy. Notre Dame currently is the owner of that trophy, after their 1-0 win last season, and they’d certainly like to continue owning it.
Irish senior forward Brad Wanchaluk will no longer play for the Irish, Poulin said Thursday.
“Brad is no longer with the team,” he said. “It was my decision.”
Poulin declined further comment.