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Hockey: Icers frustrated with poor season

Justin Schuver | Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Frustration has already reached its peak.

It was apparent when goalie Morgan Cey was pulled after letting in his fifth goal Saturday night against Bowling Green, and the usually-quiet senior netminder tossed his helmet and pads angrily into the tunnel before entering the team’s bench.

It was apparent when members of the Irish fan base, fed up with watching their team fail to produce on offense yet again, started an impromptu chant deriding Notre Dame’s head coach.

It was apparent when the goal judge, after already having seen six goals scored on Notre Dame netminders Sunday, prematurely turned on the red light after a Bowling Green forward attempted a shot on a Falcons power play – even though the shot was well wide of the net.

If it wasn’t apparent before, it is now. Everyone associated with the Notre Dame hockey team is frustrated.

“I think this is [the most frustrating season of my tenure,]” Irish coach Dave Poulin said after Saturday night’s 6-2 loss to Bowling Green. “My first few seasons we didn’t have the depth of talent that we have now. I just haven’t seen a single thing go our way. It’s been remarkable.

“You just have to keep telling them that something good is going to happen.”

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this season has been that it followed the most successful year in Notre Dame history. Last season, led by a six-member senior class, the Irish advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time in the program’s history.

Coming into this season, it was expected the Irish would be unable to match their performance from the 2003-04 campaign. But it’s safe to say nobody thought things would be this bad.

Notre Dame is currently 5-18-5 overall and just 3-13-4 in the CCHA. The Irish are in danger of posting their worst record ever during Poulin’s 10-year tenure – the previous worst finish was 9-25-1 in Poulin’s second season.

Perhaps no one has been more frustrated by the team’s play this season than Cey, who came into the Irish spotlight as a freshman and helped engineer his team’s first-round CCHA playoff upset of Nebraska-Omaha.

Since then, Cey has been in the net for nearly every one of Notre Dame’s big games – he has started twice at Joe Louis Arena in the CCHA Super Six and was in net for the team’s first-ever NCAA tournament game against defending champion Minnesota last season.

The senior has continued his status as one of the top goalies in the CCHA, but those stats have not translated into wins this season, and that is what frustrates him most of all according to Poulin.

“He’s been able to come out in a game like that in the past and shut them out,” Poulin said of Cey’s performance Saturday. “That’s what he as a goalie expects to do, and even though the first two goals were goals with an empty net and weren’t really his fault, it was still frustrating to him.

“He’s a senior and he wants to win, and that’s the real frustrating part for him is the losing.”

The Irish can still finish the season on a high note, and perhaps maybe even engineer a similar road upset in the first round of the CCHA playoffs like they did in Cey’s first season with the team.

But that doesn’t change the fact this has been one of the most frustrating and disappointing seasons in Irish history.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Justin Schuver at jschuver@nd.edu