March 20, 2003
Unlikely hero lifts Ohio State past Notre Dame
Northern Michigan also advances into CCHA semifinals

Ohio State 3,
Notre Dame 2
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

No Scoring
Second Period
1-OS T.J. Latorre (1) EV
2:44 C. Olsgard, D. Steckel
1-ND Brad Wanchulak (2) EV
8:59 Unassisted
2-ND Rob Globke (21) EV
13:58 C. Dunlop
2-OS Ryan Kesler (11) EV
17:54 P. Caponigri, E. Skaug
Third Period
3-OS Nate Guenin (2) PP
6:09 P. Caponigri, D. Andress
ND: Morgan Cey, 59:02, 22 saves, 3 GA
OS: Mike Betz, 60:00, 20 saves, 2 GA
Penalties: ND 5/10; OS 4/8
Power Plays: ND 0-2; OS 0-3
Attendance: 6,374

By Mike Eidelbes

T.J. Latorre scored the first goal for Ohio State in the Buckeyes' CCHA quarterfinal game against Notre Dame Thursday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. It was the first goal of the season for the forward.

A nice time to pick up your first marker of the year, for sure. But it's even better when you consider the circumstances surrounding Latorre's career.

The senior from Naperville, Ill., decided to hang up the skates at the beginning of the season after he sustained a shoulder injury. Latorre, who had scored three goals and eight assists in 69 career games with the Buckeyes, was termed a "character player" by OSU bench boss John Markell and described by the coaching staff as a "good, hard-working young man."

Ohio State was stung by a rash of injuries midway through the season and the team was lacking depth. The Buckeye coaches contacted Latorre and asked him if he'd consider a return. He accepted and played in his first game January 25, a 3-1 loss at Nebraska-Omaha. He appeared in seven other contests, earning one assist and a respectable +2 plus-minus rating.

It would have made for a nice story had it ended there. Clearly, no one could have predicted the events of Thursday's game.

After a scoreless first period, the Buckeyes generated a chance when forward Dave Steckel sprung linemate Chris Olsgard with a long outlet pass from his own end. Olsgard carried the puck into the Notre Dame zone to the right of netminder Morgan Cey, warded off an Irish rearguard and found Latorre with a centering pass. Latorre, who had shaken his defender, skated in unmolested and easily scored past an out-of-position Cey.

"To score a goal is a really unbelievable feeling," Latorre said following the game. "This is really a dream come true to be able to come back this year."

The dream continues, T.J. You get to come back against Michigan Friday.

Northern Michigan 7,
Michigan State 5
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

1-NM Bryce Cockburn (16) PP
10:17 J. Jackson
2-NM Mike Stutzel (26) EV
11:30 B. Cockburn
1-MS Brian Maloney (17) EV
12:03 Unassisted
2-MS Brian Maloney (18) PP
19:25 J-M Liles, B. Fast
Second Period
3-MS Brock Radunske (11) PP
2:53 J-M Liles, B. Fast
3-NM Terry Harrison (17) EV
8:20 N. Oystrick, A. Contois
Third Period
4-MS Kevin Estrada (7) EV
8:19 B. Fast, N. Gajic
4-NM Chris Gobert (13) PP
10:32 Unassisted
5-NM Dirk Southern (10) EV
12:16 B. Cockburn, J. Jackson
5-MS Brian Maloney (19) EV
13:58 J. Slater
6-NM Nathan Oystrick (2) EV
16:11 A. Swanson
7-NM Chris Gobert (14) EN
19:40 Unassisted
NM: Craig Kowalski, 60:00, 41 saves, 5 GA
MS: Matt Migliaccio, 59:16, 22 saves, 6 GA
Penalties: NM 7/14; MS 7/14
Power Plays: NM 2-4; MS 2-4
Attendance: 6,374


Northern Michigan scored four times in the third period to close out a wild, 7-5 win over Michigan State and advance to the CCHA semifinals.

Spartan head coach Rick Comley saw his season first season at Michigan State likely come to an end at the hands of the program he led for the past 26 years.

"Certainly we’re happy with the win,” said Northern Michigan head coach Walt Kyle, who played for and was an assistant coach under Comley. “We came down here to try and compete for a championship and we have a difficult task ahead with the teams remaining. Right now we’re going to take it day-by-day and game-by-game. Year to year teams are different. Michigan State year-in and year-out are a perennial power and you have to deal with them every time you are going to compete for a championship. The whole game was wild, both teams showed a lot of resiliency. I give our guys a lot of credit.”

The game saw five lead changes, four power-play goals and a hat trick from Michigan State's Brian Maloney. The two teams combined for 74 shots on goal, with the Spartans holding a 46-28 advantage.


Ohio State meets archrival Michigan tomorrow night, just two weeks removed from the teams' pair of ties in Columbus, Ohio, to close out the regular season.

Northern Michigan faces Ferris State in tomorrow's 4 p.m. game, and with a win the Wildcats could climb back into contention for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

Notre Dame's disappointing season comes to an end, as does, almost certainly, Michigan State's roller-coaster first campaign under Comley.

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