In CCHA play this season, the No. 5 Michigan hockey team has scored 104 goals. The last place Notre Dame has scored just 40.

In 2005, the Wolverines are 8-2-2, while the Fighting Irish have gone just 0-10-2 since a win on Jan. 2.

But Michigan coach Red Berenson has been warning his team not to take this Notre Dame squad lightly when the teams hook up for games tonight in Fort Wayne, Ind., and tomorrow at Yost Ice Arena.

“I don’t know why I keep saying this,” Berenson said. “But they’re a much better team than their record.”

That record (3-16-5 CCHA, 5-21-6 overall) is clearly not good. Just three teams in all of Division I college hockey have accumulated fewer wins this season.

But the Wolverines — who hold a one-point lead over Ohio State in the CCHA standings with four games remaining — are listening to what their coach has to say.

“I think they’re a legit team,” sophomore defenseman Tim Cook said. “They have a lot of skill, they have good (goalies) and we have to come out and play like we did against them earlier in the year.”

In December, the teams matched up for a home-and-home series that Michigan dominated. The Wolverines took the first game, 6-1, at Yost Ice Arena and won the finale, 8-0, in South Bend.

Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin said that the first game was closer than the final score indicated.

“In Ann Arbor, we were competitive,” Poulin said. “We were down 2-1 in the second period, but then the game got away from us.”

Soon after, if it hadn’t already, the season got away.

“We need to right our ship,” Poulin said. “We’ve got to win a hockey game. We’ve been competitive recently, but we haven’t won. It would be nice to get some momentum going into the playoffs.”

Last weekend, Ferris State swept the Irish in two close games. Notre Dame dropped 4-3 and 4-2 decisions to the Bulldogs, who reside just third from the bottom in the CCHA standings.

Tonight’s game in Fort Wayne will be Notre Dame’s first “home” game at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum. The Notre Dame administration got a hint that there might be considerable fan interest in the event, after last year’s Irish men’s basketball team hosted a postseason NIT game in Fort Wayne and sold out the arena less than 24 hours after the game was announced.

But the people of Fort Wayne like their hockey, too. Yesterday, Poulin said that 8,000 out of 10,300 tickets for tonight’s game had been sold.

Fort Wayne is the second longest standing minor-league hockey town after Hershey, Penn. They’ve been playing hockey in Fort Wayne for so long that Berenson remembers taking a trip there when he was a college hockey player. He made the trip to see his former Wolverine teammates who had recently graduated play in an unheralded professional league.

“I think playing the game in Fort Wayne is good for college hockey,” Berenson said. “I don’t know that we shouldn’t do this more often with venues like this that have some hockey history and are within driving distance of the campuses.”

Fort Wayne is about two hours from South Bend and about two and half hours from Ann Arbor.

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