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Irish to face U.S. Under 18 team in exhibition

Justin Schuver | Friday, November 19, 2004

The Irish will take a break from regular season action tonight as they face the U.S. National Team Developmental Program’s Under-18 team at 7:35 p.m. in the Joyce Center.This is the second year in a row that the Irish have played the Under-18 team in an exhibition, with the Irish coming away with a 4-0 win over Team USA on Nov. 14, 2003.Notre Dame and the Under-18 team have always had a good relationship, and several recent Irish players were once members of the National Developmental Program. Current Notre Dame junior Noah Babin and sophomore Tim Wallace were members of Team USA’s 2001 squad, and recently-signed incoming freshman Jordan Pearce was the starting goalie in last year’s 4-0 game. Pearce will join the Irish as a freshman in 2005.Sophomores Michael Bartlett and Josh Sciba were also one-time members of Team USA, although their squad never faced the Irish in an exhibition.Notre Dame comes into the exhibition on perhaps its best stretch of the young season. The Irish tied Western Michigan 2-2 Nov. 12, then came back and picked up their first conference win with a 3-2 victory over the Broncos. The three points on the weekend moved Notre Dame from last in the CCHA to eighth.”At least we don’t have the entire week off; I’m happy we’re at least playing a game [tonight],” Irish coach Dave Poulin said. “We’re pretty banged up right now – Cory McLean, Evan Rankin, Matthew Williams-Kovacs and Dan VeNard are all trying to heal from various things, so hopefully we can use this as a chance to get some of those guys healthy.”We’ll also get a chance to try some things with our special teams, maybe play Victor Oreskovich and Tim Wallace some more on the power play and give the younger guys a chance to do something.”Team USA comes into the Joyce Center on a tear, having recently won the Four Nations Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., defeating Under-18 teams from Switzerland, Sweden and Finland. They have not been a pushover against their collegiate opponents this year, either, amassing a respectable 3-2-2 record against Division I teams. Team USA owns a win over Michigan Tech (6-2) and a tie against Northern Michigan (3-3), both teams are on the Irish 2004-05 schedule.”[Team USA] is a very good hockey team,” Poulin said. “Guys on our team like Michael Bartlett and Josh Sciba have been in that other locker room, and they know how it feels to be young kids playing against big college programs, so you know they’re going to be fired up and ready to play.”Following the exhibition tonight, the Irish travel to Alaska Fairbanks for a two-game series with their conference rival on Nov. 26-27.Contact Justin Schuver at jschuver@nd.edu