Irish Open CCHA Play vs. #2 Michigan State
- Home and away series to feature CCHA TV Game of the Week
- Irish special teams remain second-best in CCHA
- Dhadphale, Noble, Dusbabek leading balanced offense
- Eisler keeps up impressive early-season pace
The University of Notre Dame hockey team (3-1-0) opens Central Collegiate Hockey Association play with a Halloween night game vs. CCHA preseason favorite and the nation's consensus #2 team Michigan State (7:00 p.m.) before facing the Spartans on Saturday, Nov. 1 in East Lansing ... that second game has been pushed back to an 8:40 p.m. start, to accommodate the traffic from the MSU-Ohio State football game that was moved to 3:30 p.m. as a TV game ... Friday's matchup will serve as the first CCHA Game of the Week telecast, to be carried this season by FoxSportsNet and its national affiliates ... the Irish opened with their first 3-0 start since 1983 before losing at home last week to Boston College (2-3), when the Eagles scored three goals in a five-minute, third-period span ... Notre Dame received mention in three national polls last week before losing to the Eagles ... Notre Dame's recent sweep at St. Cloud State (4-3/ot, 4-1) represented the program's first two-game road sweep of a CCHA or WCHA team since current Irish head coach Dave Poulin's senior season (1981-82) ... Notre Dame opened its season with a 5-1 home win over Western Ontario on Oct. 10, thanks to four goals in the final five minutes (three of which were in the final 52 seconds) ... Notre Dame's 55 shots vs. UWO were its most in 72 games, stretching back to a forgettable 61-shot game against Guelph in the 1995-96 opener, a game won by the Griffins 2-1 in OT (Guelph had just 21 shots) ... Notre Dame's 18 starting skaters have included six freshmen, six sophomores, four juniors and two seniors ... the Irish are picked seventh (out of 11 teams) in the preseason CCHA coaches poll.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS: Michigan State is 5-0-2 (2-0-1 CCHA), with wins over Boston University (3-1), Wisconsin (2-1), Western Michigan (2-0), Michigan (4-2) and Ferris State (6-1) and ties vs. Guelph (3-3) and WMU (2-2) ... MSU's top scorers are Mike York (4G, 7A) and Bryan Adams (2G, 8A) while goaltender Chad Alban owns a CCHA-best 1.40 GAA and .925 save pct. ... MSU's power play (8.3%) is worst in the CCHA while its penalty killing (88.6%) is fifth best.
SERIES NOTES: The teams have met 70 times, with MSU holding a 39-27-4 edge ... Notre Dame leads the series in the home confines of the Joyce Center (16-15-3) ... the Spartans are 13-0-3 in their last 16 games against Notre Dame, with the last Irish win coming at home on Dec. 3, 1982 (3-2) ... MSU beat Notre Dame 4-1 for the '81-'82 CCHA Tournament title (current Irish coach Dave Poulin was captain of that Notre Dame team) ... during MSU's 16-game series unbeaten streak, the Irish have forged three ties: twice in 1993-94 (both 1-1 at home) and 4-4 at home tie on Feb. 20, 1996, a forgettable game in which the Irish lost a 4-1 lead in the final 3:33 ... The first game between the team's last season came in Notre Dame's 15th game (the team's also played in game No. 26 and the season ending 35th game), but this year's series will conclude with Notre Dame's eighth game of the year ... MSU won last year's first meeting (4-3 on Dec. 6) on a Mark Loeding goal with 54 seconds left to play ... Ben Simon netted his first career goal for the Irish in that game while Craig Hagkull and Brian McCarthy also scored ... Bryan Adams and Sean Berens had goals for MSU, with Mike York adding a goal and two assists ... MSU's Chad Alban posted a 31-save shutout effort at Notre Dame on Jan. 28, 1997 (3-0), ending a 92-game Irish scoring streak (the second-longest active streak in the CCHA at that time) ... Sean Berens had two goals for MSU in that game ... Notre Dame's 1996-97 season ended with a 3-2 home loss to MSU on Feb. 28, after Lyle Andrusiak and Steve Noble had given the Irish a 2-0 lead ... Steve Ferranti, Mike Watt and York scored for MSU in that game.
SPECIAL IMPROVEMENT: Notre Dame's power-play pct. (.269/7-for-26) is up considerably from last season (.126) and ranks second among CCHA teams to Miami's .345 ... a year ago, Notre Dame did not score its seventh power-play goal until the 10th game of the season ... Notre Dame ranked 4th in the CCHA for penalty killing last season (.813) and opened this season with 17 straight penalty kills before allowing a Boston College score ... Notre Dame's .941 penalty-kill pct. (17-for-18) is second among CCHA teams, behind Lake Superior's 18-for-18.
FRIEND OR FOE?: Six current Notre Dame players are former teammates of players on the 1997-98 Michigan State squad ... junior center Craig Hagkull played on the Des Moines Buccaneers with MSU junior left wing Mark Loeding ... Irish sophomore defenseman Nathan Borega played on the Vernon Vipers with MSU freshman left wing Sean Patchel ... Notre Dame sophomore right wing John Dwyer was a teammate of MSU junior defenseman Jeff Kozakowski on the Dubuque Fighting Saints ... Irish sophomore defenseman Tyson Fraser skated alongside MSU sophomore center Sean Horcoff on Team British Columbia ... Notre Dame sophomore center Ben Simon played with MSU junior defenseman Chris Bogas on Team Ohio ... Simon and MSU junior center Mike York were teammates on the U.S. team that captured the silver medal at the 1996-97 World Junior Championship Games in Switzerland ... Simon, York and Irish sophomore right wing also were among 44 players at last summer's U.S. junior national team camp in Lake placid, N.Y.
FRESH LEGS WIN: Notre Dame owned an 8-0 third-period scoring advantage during its opening three wins ... a third-period goal by sophomore center Ben Simon put the Irish up 2-0 on Boston College but the Eagles soared to three goals in a five-minute span during the final period to post a 3-2 comeback victory.
TAKE FIVE: Notre Dame's scoring includes five players tied for the team scoring lead, with five points each: junior LW Aniket Dhadphale (4G, 1A), sophomore C Ben Simon (3G, 2A), senior C Steve Noble (2G, 3 A), freshman LW Matt Van Arkel (2G, 3A) and sophomore RW Joe Dusbabek (5A) ... the forward line of Dhadphale-Noble-Dusbabek has proved effective, as those three players have totaled 40% (6 of 15) of the team's 15 goals this season ... Dhadphale--who led the Irish with 13 goals as a freshman and has scored on 33.3% of his 12 shots this season--has nearly equaled his sophomore goal output (5), when he scored on just 4.6% of his 109 shots.
A WEEKEND OF FIRSTS: The wins at St. Cloud State on Oct. 17 (4-3/ot) and Oct. 18 (4-1) provided several significant steps for the Irish hockey program ... the 3-0 is Notre Dame's first since 1983-94, when the Irish won their first 15 games en route to a 22-6-1 season ... the last time Notre Dame won three straight games came late in the 1993-94 season (8-3 at Ferris State, 4-2 at Illinois-Chicago and 4-1 at Bowling Green) ... the last time Notre Dame scored 13-plus goals in its first three games of a season was 1989-90, when the Irish totaled 19 goals (6-5, 3-7 vs. RIT and 10-4 vs. Holy Cross) ... Notre Dame's last two-game road sweep against a WCHA of CCHA team came during the senior season of current Irish head coach Dave Poulin, when Notre Dame won 5-4 and 6-0 at Ferris State on Feb. 12-13, 1982.
EISLER STRONG OUT OF THE BLOCK: Senior goaltender Matt Eisler (West Milford, N.J.) has raced to a 2.00 goals-against average and .933 save percentage while leading the Irish to their 3-1 start ... Eisler was named the CCHA goaltender of the week after making 63 saves and allowing just four goals in the two-game sweep at St. Cloud State (Oct. 17-18) ... his 2.00 GAA ranks third among CCHA netminders with 210-plus minutes, behind Michigan State's Chad Alban (1.40) and Western Michigan's Matt Barnes (1.63) ... among goalies with 210-plus minutes, Barnes (.935) is the only CCHA netminder with a better save pct. than Eisler (.933) ... Eisler's current 2.00 GAA would tie the Irish record set by John Barry in 1968-69 while his .933 save pct. is well ahead of Mark Kronholm's existing Irish record (.907 in 1970-71).
I'LL BE BACK: Notre Dame returns 19 letterwinners, including its top five scorers and top-two goaltenders, from its 1996-97 team that went 9-25-1 after dropping 12 games by one goal ... the returnees accounted for 77 percent of Notre Dame's goals and 80 percent of the team's assists in 1996-97, with seven of the top eight scorers returning.
BIGGER, FASTER, STRONGER, DEEPER: The Irish hockey program already has received a boost from its freshman class, a group which includes four players who are 6-2 or taller and three who tip the scales at 195 pounds or heavier ... incoming forwards Dan Carlson, Chad Chipchase, Jay Kopischke and Matt Van Arkel have helped increase the team's speed and goal-scoring ability while the 5-10, 190-pound Carlson also is noted for his explosiveness and strength, as evidenced by his team-best 305-pound bench press in Notre Dame's 1997 fall conditioning ... first-year goaltender Kyle Kolquist--the 1996-97 Minnesota high school goalie of the year--could provide the Irish with its deepest netminding talent in recent memory ... Van Arkel is tied for the team scoring lead with five points (2G, 3A) while Carlson has a goal and two assists ... the 6-0, 190-pound Chipchase and 6-3, 205-pound Kopischke have skated alongside 6-4, 215-pound junior center Craig Hagkull on the bruising third forward line (Kopischke on the left, Chipchase on the right) ... freshmen blueliners Ryan Clark (6-4, 215) and Mark Eaton (6-3, 195) have helped the Irish defense allow just eight goals in four games while stopping 17 of 18 opponent power plays.
YOUNG GUNS: The 1996-97 Notre Dame hockey team was second-youngest in Division I, with an average age of 19 years and 11 months on Nov. 1, 1996 ... the Irish remain young in '97-'98, with an average age of 20 years and eight months as of 11/1/97 ... more than half (14) the players on the primary 27-man roster began their careers with the Irish immediately following graduation from high school, with seven joining the program after one year of junior hockey and only six spending two years in junior hockey before joining the Irish ... the youngest members of the '97-'98 Irish squad are: Dan Carlson (18 years, 6 months as of 11/1/97), Chad Chipchase (18, 7), Jay Kopischke (19, 2), Matt Van Arkel (19, 3), Ben Simon (19, 4) and Joe Dusbabek (19, 5) ... Carlson and Chipchase are among the 21 youngest players in the CCHA for 1997-98 while Simon was the league's third-youngest player in 1996-97 ... the '97-'98 Irish roster includes just six players who will be 22 years or older on Nov. 1, 1997 ... nine Irish players will be 18 or 19 years old on Nov. 1, 1997.
FROM ALL CORNERS: The '97-'98 Irish hockey team features players from nine states and four provinces, including two players--Nathan Borega (Wasilla, Alaska) and Tyson Fraser (Surrey, B.C.)--who made the journey from the west coast ... the program's nine Minnesota natives have two chances to travel to their home state during the 1997-98 season, when Notre Dame plays at St. Cloud State (a 4-3, 4-1 sweep on Oct. 17-18) and at the Minnesota Mariucci Classic (Dec. 28-29).
USA Today/American Hockey Magazine Poll (10/27) 1. North Dakota (10; 0-0-0) 100 2. Michigan State (3-0-2) 86 3. Boston University (2-0-0) 67 4. Colorado College (1-0-1) 66 5. New Hampshire (3-0-0) 62 6. Maine (2-1-1) 59 7. Miami (4-0-0) 41 8. Minnesota (2-2-0) 16 9. Boston College (2-0-0) 15 10. Michigan (2-2-0) 14 Others receiving votes: not listed. U.S. College Hockey Online Coaches Poll (10/27) 1. North Dakota (27; 0-0-0) 296 2. Michigan State (3; 3-0-2) 256 3. Boston University (2-0-0) 208 4. Colorado College (1-0-1) 202 5. New Hampshire (3-0-0) 190 6. Maine (2-1-1) 154 7. Miami (4-0-0) 141 8. Michigan (2-2-0) 64 9. Minnesota (2-2-0) 55 10. Clarkson (2-0-0) 20 Others receiving votes: Cornell 15,Boston College 14, Rensselaer 14, Wisconsin 9, Colgate 8, Vermont 4. WMEB MEDIA POLL (10/26) 1. North Dakota (8) 116 2. Michigan State (4) 102 3. Boston University 94 4. Colorado College 79 5. New Hampshire 64 6. Maine 62 7. Miami 53 8. Michigan 31 9. Minnesota 23 10. Boston College 10 Others receiving votes: Rensselaer 8, Clarkson 7, Colgate 5, Wisconsin 5, Cornell 2. ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS (10/20) 1. North Dakota 2. Maine 3. Michigan State 4. Boston University 5. Colorado College 6. Michigan 7. Mineesota 8. New Hampshire 9. Miami 10. NOTRE DAME Teams in italics are on Notre Dame's 1997-98 schedule. CCHA COACHES PRESEASON POLL School (1st) Pts Range 1. Michigan St. (9) 99 (1-2) 2. Miami (2) 90 (1-2-3) 3. Michigan 83 (2-3) 4. Lake Superior 69 (2-3-4-5-6) 5. W. Michigan 62 (3-4-5-6-7) 6. Bowling Green 54 (4-5-6-8) 7. NOTRE DAME 43 (5-6-7-8-9) 8. Ohio State 42 (4-5-6-7-8-9) 9. Ferris State 26 (6-7-8-9-10) Northern Michigan 26 (7-8-9) 11. Alaska Fairbanks 11 (9-10) 1997-98 Personnel Breakdown Top Returnees (year, pos., ht./wt, 1996-97 stats) Matt Eisler (Sr., G, 6-1/185, 3.65 GAA/.885 sv pct.) Steve Noble (Sr., C, 6-1/190 ... 9 G/7 A) Lyle Andrusiak (Sr., C, 6-0/190 ... 7 G/12 A) Brian Urick (Jr., RW, 6-1/190 ... 13 G/12 A) Benoit Cotnoir (Jr., D, 5-11/195 ... 5 G/15 A) Aniket Dhadphale (Jr., LW, 6-3/190 ... 5 G/16 A) Nathan Borega (So., D, 6-2/225 ... 1 G/5 A) Joe Dusbabek (So., RW, 6-1/205 ... 13 G/12 A) Tyson Fraser (So., D, 5-11/180 ... 3 G/9 A) Ben Simon (So., C, 6-9/180 ... 4 G/15 A) Top Players Lost (all 1996-97 seniors) Terry Lorenz (C ... 8 G/9 A) Ben Nelsen (D ... 4 G/8 A) Top Newcomers (all freshmen) Dan Carlson (LW, 5-10/190, Edina, MN/Edina HS) Chad Chipchase (LW, 6-0/190, Clinton, ONT/Waterloo Siskins) Jay Kopischke (LW, 6-3/205, Alexandria, MN/N. Iowa Huskies) Matt Van Arkel (LW, 6-0/180, Richton Park, IL/Milton Merchants) Ryan Clark (D, 6-4/215, Littleton, CO/Lincoln Stars) Mark Eaton (D, 6-3/195, Wilmington, DE/Waterloo Blackhawks) Kyle Kolquist (G, 5-11/170, Duluth, MN/Duluth East HS)