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Cey returns to net after missing first six games

Justin Schuver | Thursday, October 30, 2003

He’s back. After missing the first five games of the season recovering from off-season knee surgery, junior goaltender Morgan Cey will return to action this Thursday and Friday as the Irish take on Nebraska-Omaha at the Joyce Center.Irish head coach Dave Poulin has made it perfectly clear that Cey remains the No. 1 goaltender on the team, despite the recent play of freshman David Brown.”Morgan is going to play [Thursday] night and then we’ll go from there,” he said. “He’s healthy and going to win the game.”The Irish went 3-2-0 (2-2-0 in the CCHA) in Cey’s absence, to a large part due to the play of Brown, who pitched back-to-back shutouts in Notre Dame’s two most recent wins, including an upset victory over then-No. 1 Boston College.But it is hard to keep a talented player like Cey off the ice. Since arriving with the Irish in the 2000 season and making the CCHA all-rookie team as an honorable mention, the Canadian native has been Notre Dame’s workhorse in net.Over his first two seasons with the Irish, Cey appeared in 71 out of 79 possible games and collected a .912 save percentage and a 2.80 goals-against average. He is on pace to easily beat the Irish career goaltending records in each category (Tony Zasowski’s .892 and Forrest Karr’s 2.92, respectively). Cey and the rest of the Irish will have to avoid a letdown against Nebraska-Omaha (0-3-1, 0-1-1) after knocking off the No. 1 team in the country on the road last weekend. Poulin doesn’t believe his team will underestimate the Mavericks.”I think I worry about us,” he said. “You always respect your opponent, but I think rather than think about who’s coming in here we’re going to worry about what’s happening with Notre Dame.”There’s no such thing as a letdown in this league. There can’t be, every team is too competitive and too good.”The Irish held their home opener Oct. 17, and lost by a score of 5-3 to Bowling Green despite outshooting the Falcons 59-25.”It’s interesting because that might have been our best game of the year,” Poulin said. “We created lots of chances, but just didn’t finish them.”We want to play that kind of game again, but we want to have a better final score.”In addition to solid goaltending, a key component of Notre Dame’s start to the season has been a penalty kill that is ranked first in the CCHA with a 92 percent success rate. On the power play, however, the team has struggled – scoring just three goals with the man-advantage for a 10.5 percent success rate.”Special teams play is a huge part of college hockey,” Poulin said. “I think the power play has created chances but just hasn’t scored. We’re pretty close, I think. “We have to get our power play going, though, there’s no question. In each game there’s a critical turning point where a power play goal can really help swing the momentum in your favor.”The Mavericks’ last game was a 2-2 tie on the road against Western Michigan Oct. 18, the first game in which Nebraska-Omaha has earned a point this season.Offensively, freshman forward Scott Parse leads the team with five points (three goals, two assists) and is followed by senior forward Andrew Wong with four points, all assists.Senior Brian Haaland has been average in net so far this year, collecting a .893 save percentage and a 2.71 goals against average.Nebraska-Omaha split a two-game series with the Irish last year, with each team collecting a 5-3 win. The teams have met 13 times in the all-time series, with the Mavericks holding a 7-5-1 edge over the Irish.Faceoff for each game is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.