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October 13, 1997 - Image 27

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-13

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140 - ~ Michigan Daily - Faceol - Monday, October 13, 1~' Monday, October 141997 - Faceoff '9~

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Notre Dame's expectations high
for fourth season back in CCHA

Boyle leads strong defense in
Miami's pursuit of CCHA title

7CCHA Rank - Coaches Poll
7 M"
This season marks the fourth since
the return of Notre Dame to the
CCHA, and people are already start-
ing to ask for a national title.
"The question I get asked the most
is: 'How long is it going to take?"'
Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin said.
"What is the time frame to building a
national champion? It does take some
time, there's no question."
For the Fighting Irish, there might
be no time better than the present. The
program has a strong returning class,
including 20 letter-winners from last
season.
The roster is highlighted by a tal-
ented sophomore class, which
includes Tyson Fraser and Nathan
Borega - both All-CCHA team hon-
orable mention selectees. Borega's
imposing 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame
complements Fraser on an intimidat-
ing defensive line.
Thanks to the highly talented duo,
the Irish were fourth in the CCHA last
season in penalty killing at 80.5 per-
cent.
"Our sophomore class was a very
successful one last year as freshmen,"
Poulin said. "A lot was expected of
them, and I think that's natural in a
growing program.

"You have to look to the young
players to contribute."
The Irish have a good balance of
young talent and seasoned experience.
At no other position is that more clear
for than in the net.
"No question that (goalie) Matt
Eisler will be a key," Poulin said. "You
have to have a great goalie to win."
The senior netminder was the Notre
Dame most valuable player last season
and is the nation's sixth-leading active
save leader with 2,080.
Eisler was fourth in the conference
in save percentage last season (.885)
and earned honorable mention all-
CCHA honors.
The Notre Dame offense is also
strong, featuring leading returning
point scorer Brian Urick. The junior
right winger compiled 25 points last
season with 13 goals and 12 assists.
"The other real key for us is Brian
Urick," Poulin said. "He's had two
good years, and we're looking for him
to take it to another level."
The other leading point-scorer for
the Irish last season, Joe Dusbabek,
also leads the Notre Dame offensive
attack. The sophomore right winger
was the CCHA rookie of the year run-
ner-up to Western Michigan's Daryl
Andrews.
His offensive stats mirrored team-
mate Urick with 13 goals and 12
assists, as well.

Perhaps the biggest asset for the
Irish might be on the bench. Poulin, in
his third season at the helm, is consid-
ered one of the most intelligent coach-
es in hockey.
A former Notre Dame player him-
self and a veteran of 12 NHL seasons,
Poulin's professional attitude has
translated into a rapid maturation of a
program re-emerging as a conference
presence.
Twelve one-goal losses last season
shows the competitive nature of his
team..
"I think we've built the determina-
tion and character that is necessary to
do well in this league," Poulin said.
With the combination of a strong,
young defense, an experienced goalie,
returning offensive threats and a tal-
ented coach, Notre Dame might be the
sleeper team in the CCHA this season.
-Sharat Raju

2 CCHA Rank - Coaches Poll
Last year, Miami (Ohio) was the sur-
prise team in the CCHA. Ranked sev-
enth in the 1996-97 preseason coaches
poll, the RedHawks - who were then
known as the Redskins - finished the
CCHA regular season in second place.
This year, the RedHawks were picked
to finish second in the coaches poll and
enter the season with higher expecta-
tions. With the exception of Hobey Baker
finalist Randy Robitaille, who left school
early to go pro, Miami returns many key
players from last year's 27-win team.
"We need to take the next step forward,
to prove that we belong in the top half of
the CCHA, and to challenge for the
league title," Miami coach Mark
Mazzoleni said.
Up front, Miami features three players
who scored 30 or more points last year.
The RedHawks' leading returning goal-

scorer is senior center Tim Leahy, who
had 26 goals and 20 assists last season.
Senior Adam Copeland is a physical
winger who scored 18 goals among his
40 points, while senior Marc Tropper is
a speedy winger who scored 13 of his 21
goals on the power play last season.
Behind its top three forwards, however,
Miami will have to rely on a group of
unproven scorers to provide offense.
On the blue line, Miami returns six
experienced defensemen, including Dan
Boyle, one of the premier offensive
defensemen in college. Boyle, who is
Miami's leading returning scorer with 54
points was an All-American and All-
CCHA selection last season and is being
touted as a Hobey Baker candidate.
In net, the RedHawks feature perhaps
the best 1-2 combination of goaltenders
in the CCHA. Trevor Prior had a 2.78
goals-against average last season and
earned second team All-CCHA honors.
Prior will compete for playing time
with Adam Lord, who compiled an

impressive 1 0-2 record
RedHawks after transfering
from Illinois-Chicago.

with the
to Miami

-Fred Link

Despite losing Randy Robitaille to the NHL, the Ri
on last season's second-place CCHA regular-seas

Lake Superior, Borek hope to meet expectations in

With the departure of players like Harold Schock, Michigan finds itself in the
unusual position of having less defensive experience than Ohio State.
Buckeyes return 15 icers

4

CCHA Rank - Coaches Poll

_-1

1

X W TM j

2j/ 7 Mch. , N ±.1 CCHA Rank - Coaches Poll
i997-i games ag.it Mchtgn
Jan. .0 .outh 8end In a season characterized by youth
Jan. 31 Ann Arbor and rebuilding throughout the confer-
Mar. 7 t. Bd ence, Ohio State is behaving uncharac-
teristically.
y a The rebuilding period for the
Matt Eier Sr G Buckeyes has evidently passed. Last
SteveNobl Sr. LW season's 12-25-2 performance exceed-
Joe Ds....b..k.So. RW ed expectations, resulting in the most
wins at Ohio State since 1991-92 and
i:ead c"oach best CCHA finish since 1990-91.
Dave POUln, 3nd seaon This season, 15 letterwinners return
Random noie: Hope te snore mere to a team that put together a late-season
than football ounteperts. even-game unbeaten streak.

At the forefront the of experienced
unit are senior blueliners Ryan Root
and Taj Schaffnit. Root's 25 power-play
points last season tied him for the
CCHA lead among defensemen.
Two young defensemen, Ryan
Jestadt and Ryan Skaleski, both should
see a great deal of ice time this season
after a strong freshman season.
Although five defensemen return for
the Buckeyes, a key loss was sopho-
more Chris Feil, who left for the OHL.
Feil was chosen in the ninth round of
the 1997 NHL Draft by the Chicago
Blackhawks.
Between the pipes for Ohio State was
a rotating door last season. Ray Aho and
See BUCKEYES, Page 15C

Forget about Detroit. If any town in
Michigan deserves to be called
Hockeytown, it's Sault Ste. Marie.
Scott Borek knew how demanding the
town was before he signed on as Lake
Superior's coach last year. After all,
Borek served as an assistant to Jeff
Jackson, the most successful coach in
Lake Superior history, before taking the
reigns of the Lakers.
But Borek learned about the fans the
hard way during his first year at Lake
Superior's helm. The Lakers had a rela-
tively disappointing season last year, fin-
ishing with a 19-14-5 mark after falling
in the first round of the CCHA playoffs
0 _!e

for the first time since 1987.
"Last year, we almost walked into a
firestorm at the end of the year,' Borek
said. "It was kind of a big wake-up call
for the whole program."
Fans were disgruntled, but Borek
refuses to sugar-coat the Lakers' outlook
going into 1997-98. People are going to
have to be patient.
Again.
"Lake Superior probably hasn't seen a
team this young in a long time," Borek
said. "So hopefully, the people of the
Sault will be patient with us. But if you
know anything about the Sault, that's
unlikely."
Part of Borek's anxiety stems from the
loss of two of the Lakers' top players
from last year - players who left early to
turn professional. Goaltender John

Grahame opted out of his senior year to
sign with the Boston Bruins, while cen-
ter/left wing Bates Battaglia left to play
for the Carolina Hurricanes organization.
Offensively, Lake Superior shouldn't
suffer too much from the departure of
Battaglia. Although he was the Lakers'
third-leading scorer last year, the Lakers
do return four of their top-five scorers.
Seniors Joe Blaznek (22-24-46),
Bryan Fuss (17-18-35), Terry Marchant
(12-14-16) and junior Jason Sessa (22-
22-44) will have to pick up the slack.
Sophomore center/left-wing Ben Keup,
an honorable-mention CCHA All-
Rookie selection, will also probably be
asked to make a sizeable contribution.
Goal is another situation entirely. The
loss of Grahame means that sophomores
Shawn Greene and Jamie Kosecki and

freshmen Jayme Platt and Rob Galatiuk
will have to compete for time in net.
"The key to our team probably lies
right there," Borek said. "If one of (the
freshmen) can evolve, it will be the first
time we've had two goalies in a few
years."

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