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    Fighting Irish

    Dec. 23, 1997

    Irish Return to Play at Mariucci Classic

  • First game vs. Northeastern, with Minnesota/Brown in the wings
  • Simon, Dusbabek make U.S. national junior team
  • Assistant coach Tom Carroll, nine Irish players in home state this week

    The Notre Dame hockey team (9-7-2, 5-5-2 CCHA) returns from a 14-day break for finals and the holidays by participating in this week’s University of Mariucci Classic, Dec. 27-28 ... the Irish take on Northeastern in Saturday’s early game, followed by the Minnesota-vs.-Brown game ... the losers will meet in Sunday’s consolation game (4:00 p.m. central), followed by the championship game ... the Irish headed into finals with wins in three of their last four games, including a split with Wisconsin (4-2, 2-3, with the road teams winning in each game) ... this weekend kicks off a stretch in which the Irish will play seven of nine game away from home ... Notre Dame’s roster includes nine Minnesota natives, led by junior RW Brian Urick (Minnetonka), sophomore RW Joe Dusbabek (Faribault) and freshman LW Dan Carlson (Edina) ... Dusbabek and sophomore C Ben Simon will miss the next four games while competing with the U.S. at the word junior championship in Finland (Dec. 25-Jan. 3) ... 13th-year Irish assistant coach and Edina, Minn. native Tom Carroll --fresh off a home-and-home series versus his alma mater Wisconsin--returns to his home state this week for the Mariucci Classic ... Notre Dame is even in one-goal games this season (4-4), a marked improvement from its 3-12 record in one-goal games last season ... Notre Dame already has surpassed its point total from last season (9-25-1).

    AROUND THE HORN: Minnesota (8) and Notre Dame (7) have 15 combined NHL draft picks on their rosters, but six of them will not be on the ice during this weekend’s action (Notre Dame’s Joe Dusbabek and Ben Simon will be playing alongside Minnesota’s Aaron Miskovich at the U.S. world junior championship in Finland while three Gophers draft picks--Ben Clymer, Jason Godbout and Ryan Kraft--are out due to injury) ... Notre Dame is 6-3 on the road this season and 3-4-2 at home, with 31 of 57 goals coming on the road ... the Irish are tied with Michigan as the third-youngest team in Division I hockey ... 19 Minnesota natives had played for CCHA teams through the first month of this season, with seven of those players skating for Notre Dame ... the Irish penalty-killing unit has allowed just six more goals (11) than it has scored (5) ... Notre Dame remains the CCHA’s least-penalized team (6.72/gm) for the second straight season ... the Irish are on pace to set records for team goals-against average (2.72), save percentage (.903) and penalty-killing percentage (.866) ... Notre Dame’s top scorers are sophomore C Ben Simon (8-13-21), junior RW Brian urick (6-10-16), junior LW Aniket Dhadphale (11-4-15) and senior C Steve Noble (4-10-14) ... Notre Dame’s 18 starting skaters have included as many as seven freshmen and six sophomores ... the Irish were picked seventh (out of 11 teams) in the preseason CCHA coaches poll and stand seventh heading into the New Year, just four games behind third-place Miami (the Irish play host to the RedHawks on Jan. 2-3).

    HOME COOKING: A total of 274 players had played for a CCHA team as of Nov. 16, with 56 of those players hailing from Ontario, 53 from Michigan, 20 from B.C. and 19 from Minnesota ... Notre Dame has the most Minnesota talent in the CCHA, with seven players--all forward--having appeared in at least one game through the first month of the season (Miami had played five Minnesota natives, Ohio State had played three and four other teams had played one) ... Notre Dame’s Minnesota natives who have played this season include two players from the surging first forward line: junior RW Brian Urick (6 G, 10 A, Minnetonka HS) and freshman LW Dan Carlson (5 G, 8 A, Edina HS) ... Urick and Carlson, who skate with sophomore C Ben Simon, rank second and fifth on the team in scoring (Simon is first with 8 G, 13 A) ... Faribault native Joe Dusbabek, a sophomore RW who teamed at Minnetonka HS, has one goal and nine assists this season (Dusbabek will miss the Mariucci Classic while playing with the U.S. in the world junior championship) ... four other Minnesota natives have skated for the Irish this season: freshman LW and Alexandria HS product Jay Kopischke (1 G), junior C and Arden Hills native Craig Hagkull (Mounds View HS), freshman RW Ryan Dolder (Hutchinson HS) and sophomore C Troy Bagne (Moorhead HS) ... two other Minnesota natives on the Irish roster have yet to play this year: junior C Neal Johnson (Edina HS), freshman G Kyle Kolquist (Duluth East HS).

    IRISH NOT AFRAID TO GET FEET WET: Notre Dame has fared quite well in the land of 10,000 lakes over the past two seasons, winning all three games in the state of Minnesota over the past 12 months ... the Irish won at Mankato State (3-2) last Jan. 7, with Minnetonka native Brian Urick tying the game and Faribault native Joe Dusbabek scoring the game-winner ... Notre Dame then pulled off a sweep at St. Cloud earlier this season (Oct. 17-18), winning 4-3 in overtime and 4-1 the next night ... Dusbabek had two assists in both wins while Urick assisted on Ben Simon’s overtime game-winner in the first game ... freshman LW Dan Carlson (Edina) had an assist in the first win over the Huskies and then scored a goal to help put the second game out of reach.

    SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame and Northeastern have met once previously, with the Irish posting a 4-1 home victory during the 1970-71 season (the third season in the modern era of Notre Dame hockey) ... Minnesota leads its series with Notre Dame 20-10-2 (15-6-1 at Minnesota) but the teams have met just once since the Irish left the WCHA in 1981 ... the Badgers won that game, 7-2, at home during the 1990-91 season ... Notre Dame and Brown have never met in Division I hockey play.

    DUSBABEK, SIMON NAMED TO U.S. NATIONAL JUNIOR TEAM: Notre Dame sophomore forwards Joe Dusbabek (Faribault, Minn.) and Ben Simon (Shaker Heights, Ohio) have been named to the 22-player United States national junior team, which will compete in the upcoming World Junior Championship, Dec. 25-Jan. 3 in Helsinki and Hameenlinna, Finland ... Dusbabek and Simon emerged from a 28-player tryout camp and are two of 10 current college players who will represent the U.S. in Finland ... they join Michigan State forward Mike York as the only players on the 1997-98 U.S. national junior team who currently play for schools in the CCHA ... Boston College placed three players on the national junior team, followed by Notre Dame (2), Wisconsin (1), Providence (1), Minnesota (1) and MSU (1) ... virtually all of the players on the national junior team—18 of 22 (including both Notre Dame players)—competed with the U.S. in late August at the international Tampere Cup in Finland ... Simon and Dusbabek will miss four upcoming Notre Dame games while competing with the national junior team, including the University of Minnesota Mariucci Classic (Dec. 27-28) and a two-game homestand vs. Miami University (Jan. 2-3) ... Simon missed three Irish games last season (two losses at Princeton, 2-5 and 2-3 in OT, and a 3-6 home loss to Miami) while helping the U.S. capture the silver medal at the 1996-97 World Junior Championship in Switzerland ... that runner-up showing represented the best U.S. finish in the 21-year history of the tournament and was highlighted by a tie vs. Canada in the round-robin play ... Simon is one of five returning forwards from that 1996-97 U.S. world junior team, joining York, former linemate Farkas, Jess Boulerice (Mooers, N.Y.) and Toby Peterson (Colorado College) ... the U.S. also returns defensemen Chris Hajt (Amherst, N.Y.) and Paul Mara (Belmont, Mass.) and goaltender Robert Esche (Whitesboro, N.Y.) from last year’s silver-medal-winning team ... Dusbabek and Simon have faced five of their national teammates this season: Boston College’s Farkas, forward Brian Gionta and defenseman Mike Mottau, MSU’s York and Wisconsin forward Dustin Kuk ... the national junior team includes a sixth player from a team on Notre Dame’s 1997-98 schedule—Minnesota forward Aaron Miskovich, who will join Simon and Dusbabek in missing the Mariucci Classic ... the other current college players on the national junior team are Colorado College’s Peterson and Providence forward Jay Leach ... Simon and Dusbabek are two of 15 National Hockey League draft picks on the 1997-98 U.S. national junior team ... Simon was selected in the fifth round by the Chicago Blackhawks last spring, followed by Dusbabek’s seventh-round selection by the San Jose Sharks.

    HUSKIES NOTES: Northeastern returned 15 of 23 letterwinners from its 1996-97 team that went 8-25-3 and finished ninth in Hockey East (3-19-2) ... the Huskies are 8-5-2 overall and first in Hockey East (6-3-2), with a 6-4 home win over Harvard on Dec. 18 representing the team’s only game since Dec. 6 ... Northeastern has scored 12 power-play goals while allowing 15 but the Huskies own a 40-37 scoring edge for even-strength goals, thanks to a 22.2 team shooting percentage and a .901 team save percentage ... six players lead the team with 10-13 points, headed by freshman forwards Sean MacDonald (3-10-13) and Brian Cummings (5-7) and sophomore forward Todd Barclay (8-3) ... sophomore Marc Robitaille has logged 903 of 911 minutes in the net, posting a 3.06 goals-against average and .904 save pct. ... Northeastern is 3-1-0 when leading at the first intermission, 4-1-1 when ahead after 40 minutes and 6-2-2 when scoring first ... the Huskies also own wins over Bowling Green (6-3), at Providence (2-0), at Merrimack (6-4), at Boston College (5-4), at home over Providence (3-2) and at UMass-Amherst (4-3) ... Northeastern’s losses have come at Colgate (3-6), Cornell (2-4) and UMass-Lowell (2-7, 2-3), at home to Boston College (2-5) while its ties have come vs. UMass-Lowell (3-3) and UMass-Amherst (1-1).

    FRIEND OR FOE, PART I: The Irish and Huskies have several players who are former teammates: Notre Dame junior G Forrest Karr and Northeastern freshman D John Peterman (Wisconsin Capitols); Notre Dame sophomore RW John Dwyer and sophomore D Sean Molina and Northeastern sophomore F Todd Barclay and Roger Holeczy (Dubuque Saints); and Notre Dame sophomore D Andy Jurkowski and freshman D and Northeastern freshman D John Peterman (Wisconsin Capitols).

    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 two months as of 10/28/97, according to NHL Central Scouting, which lists Harvard (19, 7) and Boston University (20, 0) as the youngest teams in the nation while Notre Dame is tied with Boston College and Michigan as having the third-lowest average age in Division I hockey ... more than half (14) of the players on Notre Dame’s 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. 

    GOPHERS NOTES: Minnesota returned 15 of 21 lettermen from its 1996-97 team that went 28-13-1, tied for first in the WCHA (21-10-1) and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals ... Minnesota (4-10-0)--coming off a pair of home losses to St. Cloud State (1-3, 1-4)--has fallen from the preseason national rankings and has dropped its last seven WCHA games, equaling the longest conference skid in the program’s history ... Minnesota is just 2-7 in one-goal games this season ... the Gophers are 3-7-0 in the WCHA, tied with Denver (3-9-0) in the cellar of the nine-team conference ... Minnesota has suffered three major injuries, to sophomore D Ben Clymer (shoulder surgery), senior D Jason Godbout (elbow surgery) and senior C Ryan Kraft (hand surgery) ... Clymer--who is expected to miss the rest of the season--played in just one game while Godbout went down after playing 11 games (he could return in February) ... Kraft hurt his hand in Friday’s 3-1 loss to St. Cloud State and will be out 3-4 weeks ... Minnesota’s power-play percentage (.106, 9-for-85) is worst in team history ... the Gophers were on pace for the best penalty-killing unit in team history before allowing three St. Cloud scores on eight man-up chances (the Minnesota penalty-kill is now 65-for-79/.823) ... Minnesota’s top five scorers have 10-13 points, led by junior C Wyatt Smith (8-5-13), Kraft (2-10-12) and junior C Reggie Berg (5-6-11) ... Minnesota’s wins have come over Maine (3-2), at Minnesota-Duluth (5-1), North Dakota (6-5) and at Wisconsin (4-2) .. the other Gophers losses have come to Maine (1-6), at Minnesota-Duluth (3-5), North Dakota (2-3), at Wisconsin (2-3), at Alaska-Anchorage (2-3, 2-3), at Colorado College (1-5, 3-4), at Michigan (3-4) and at Michigan State (2-3).

    FRIEND OF FOE, PART II: Several Notre Dame and Minnesota players are former teammates: Notre Dame junior C Craig Hagkull and Minnesota freshman G Erik Day and (Dubuque Saints); Notre Dame junior C Neal Johnson and Minnesota senior W Casey Hankinson (Edina HS); Notre Dame junior RW Brian Urick and sophomore RW Joe Dusbabek and Minnesota sophomore C Rico Pagel (Minnetonka HS), with Pagel also joining Dusbabek and Notre Dame sophomore C Ben Simon at the summer of ‘97 national junior camp; Notre Dame’s Simon and Minnesota sophomore D Ben Clymer (1996-97 U.S. national junior team); Notre Dame freshman RW Ryan Dolder and Minnesota sophomore W Nate Miller (Twin City Vulcans); Notre Dame freshman G Kyle Kolquist and Minnesota freshman D Dylan Mills and sophomore W Dave Spehar (Duluth East HS); Notre Dame freshman LW Jay Kopischke and Minnesota freshman W Stuart Senden (Alexandria HS); and Notre Dame sophomore C Troy Bagne and Minnesota senior C Ryan Kraft (both played at Moorhead HS).

    BEARS NOTES: Brown returned 19 of 26 letterwinners from its 1996-97 team that went 7-19-3 and finished 12th in the ECAC (4-16-2) ... the Bears are off to a 2-8-0 overall start and stand 10th in the ECAC (2-6-0) ... Brown has not played since a 6-3 loss to Harvard on Dec. 9 ... the Bears are 2-4 in one-goal games this season ... Brown’s power play ranks seventh in the ECAC (.156, 7-for-45) while its penalty-killing unit ranks last (.769, 20-for-26) ... senior goalie Jeff Holotway owns a 3.68 goals-against average and .909 save pct. ... Brown’s top scorers are senior forwards John DeRenzo (4-6-10) and Damian Prescott (5-3-8) ... Brown’s wins have come over Yale (3-2/OT) and at St. Lawrence (2-1) ... the Bears other losses have come at Colgate (4-5), at Cornell (3-4), vs. Princeton (5-6/OT), at Boston (1-8), vs. Boston College (3-6), vs. Harvard (3-5) and at Clarkson (2-3)

    FRIEND OR FOE, PART III: Notre Dame sophomore D Andy Jurkowski played with d Brown sophomore D Ryan Longfield and sophomore G Scott Sterling on the Wisconsin Capitols ... Notre Dame freshman RW Matt Van Arkel and Brown freshman F Doug Janjevich were teammates on the Milton Merchants.

    ROAD WARRIORS: Notre Dame is 6-3 away from home this season, posting wins at St. Cloud State (4-3/ot, 4-1), #2 Michigan State (6-1), Ohio State (3-2), Western Michigan (2-1) and Wisconsin (4-2) ... the Irish have lost road games in the final minute at MSU (3-1, with the Spartans breaking a 1-1 tie in the final four minutes) and Miami (5-4, with Miami winning with 20 seconds left) before losing a 3-2 second-intermission lead at Ferris State (the Bulldogs won 4-3) ... Notre Dame has been particularly impressive during the third period of several of those road games, scoring twice to force overtime in the first game at St. Cloud, clinching the second win over the Huskies with two more third-period goals and using a four-goal, third-period flurry in the big win at Michigan State ... Notre Dame has scored 32 goals away from home on 222 shots on goal, for an average of 6.9 shots per goal (14.4 shooting pct.) ... conversely, in its nine home games, Notre Dame is just 3-4-2 and has scored only 26 goals on 270 shots, for an average of 10.4 shots per goal (9.6 shooting pct.).

    PENALTY-KILLING PLUS: Notre Dame’s penalty-killing unit has scored one goal for every 2.2 it has allowed this season, totaling five shorthanded goals while allowing 11 opponent power-play scores ... the five shorthanded goals are more than double the Irish total from all of 1996-97 (2), with sophomore C Ben Simon scoring three of the SHG’s while junior D Benoit Cotnoir and freshman LW Dan Carlson have netted the others ... Notre Dame’s “-6” penalty-killing effort this season is best in the CCHA, ahead of three teams that are “-8”: Michigan State (9 PPG allowed/1 SHG scored), Lake Superior (13/5) and Ohio State (13/5) ... the other CCHA teams break down as follows: Western Michigan (-9), Michigan (-12), Miami (-13), Northern Michigan (-17), Ferris State (-18), Bowling Green (-19) and Alaska Fairbanks (-22).

    RECAP - Irish split with Wisconsin in first home-ice games in series since 1981: (12/10, ND 4, @WIS 2) - Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead when Lyle Andrusiak picked up the puck in the slot from Aniket Dhadphale and slid it past Wisconsin goaltender Mike Valley ... the Irish extended their lead at the 16:42 mark of the first, when Steve Noble came out of the penalty box, and took a lead pass from Joe Dusbabek who was along the left wing boards ... Noble skated into the Badger zone, cut at the top of the right circle and skated to the middle where he let loose a wrist shot that beat Valley ... Aniket Dhadphale put the Irish ahead 3-0 on a power-play goal at 5:40 of the second, after Tyson Fraser skated to the center line and found Steve Noble on the left wing, who skated the puck in the zone and fed Dhadphale in the slot ... Dhadphale then fired a snapshot into the top right corner of the net ... the Badgers had a chance to turn the momentum of the game when Steve Reinprecht scored at 9:34 but the Irish responded just 57 seconds later, when Ben Simon scored his third shorthanded goal of the season ... Simon took a centering pass from Brian Urick, who had skated free down the right side and drawn the lone Badger defenseman to him ... Irish goaltender Forrest Karr stood his ground while facing just 13 shots, allowing a goal in the final two minutes for the final score. (12/12, WIS 3, @ND 2) - Wisconsin grabbed an early lead when Kevin Granato took the puck off the left wing boards, spun around an Irish defenseman and wristed a high shot at Notre Dame netminder Matt Eisler, who put his glove on the puck before it deflected into the air and rolled into the net (5:58) ... the Irish tied the game at 16:10 of the second on a two-man advantage, when Brian Urick took a cross-ice pass from Ben Simon deep in the left circle, and roofed the puck over Badger goalie Graham Melanson ... Wisconsin responded just 1:45 later, when Granato picked up the puck in the slot, skated to his left and beat a sliding Eisler with a wrister ... Urick again tied the game, at 10:59 of the third, after Dan Carlson skated into the Wisconsin zone, circled at the left point and sent a cross-ice pass to a streaking Simon, who spun and put a backhanded pass on the tape of Urick’s stick as he skated across the top of the crease ... Urick then deflected the puck into the net but the Badgers rebounded quickly again, taking only 1:12 to score the power-play game-winner, when Dustin Kuk picked up a loose rebound of an Erik Raygor shot ... Melanson had 34 saves, including stops on breakaways by Carlson and Jay Kopischke.

    SHOWING DISCIPLINE: After ranking among the CCHA’s most-penalized teams in 1994-95 (11.59 penalties/gm) and 1995-96 (11.33), Notre Dame last season became the conference’s least-penalized squad (8.69/gm) ... through 18 games this season, the Irish again are the CCHA’s least-penalized squad, totaling 121 penalties for an average of just 6.72 per game--while posting a 2.72 team goals-against average that would blow away the existing Irish record (3.40, in 1987-88)... Notre Dame has totaled four or fewer penalties in seven games this season and averaged just 4.25 penalties/gm over the past four outings ... after Notre Dame, the CCHA’s least-penalized teams this season are: Michigan State (8.78), Ferris State (8.82), Miami (9.14), Michigan (9.72) and Ohio State (9.78) ... the CCHA’s most-penalized teams are Alaska Fairbanks (10.90), Northern Michigan (10.50), Bowling Green (10.44), Western Michigan (10.28) and Lake Superior (10.24) ... hard-hitting Irish sophomore D Nathan Borega has just 11 penalties this season (one in the last eight games) and less than one per game in his career (42 in 53 games) ... other disciplined Irish skaters include: senior C Steve Noble (four penalties in ‘97-’98, 20 in last 52) and sophomore D Tyson Fraser (five penalties in ‘97-’98, 21 in 47 career games) ... junior RW Brian Urick struggled with untimely penalties his first two seasons (58 in 70 games) but has just four penalties this season.

    A FRESH START: Freshman defenseman Mark Eaton and rookie left wing Dan Carlson have made a significant impact for the Irish this season ... the smooth-skating and heady Eaton ranks second on the team in plus-minus (+8) and has totaled 10 points, including nine assists (fourth-most on the team) ... the speedy Carlson ranks fourth on the team in plus-minus (+6) and has totaled five goals and eight assists (13 points) this season ... Carlson had two goals and an assist in the recent two-game series with Western Michigan, including the game-winning goal at WMU (2-1) and a game-winning assists in the 4-2 home win over the Broncos ... Carlson also had an assist and scored the late game-tying goal in the 5-5 game with Ferris State.

    SPECIAL IMPROVEMENT: Despite a 3-for-42 power-play effort (.071) in its last seven games, Notre Dame’s season power-play pct. (.177/17-for-103) is up considerably from last season (.127) and ranks sixth among CCHA teams ... the Irish netted at least one power-play goal in 10 of the first 11 games, including each of the first seven (the longest PPG streak in 1996-97 was three games) ... Notre Dame ranked 4th in the CCHA for penalty killing last season (.813) and opened this season with 16 straight penalty kills before allowing a Boston College score ... the Irish then killed off 22 straight power plays, including 15 in a two-game weekend series vs. then-#2 MSU ... the team’s season penalty-killing pct. now stands at .866 (71-for-82), fourth-best in the CCHA ... the Irish record for season penalty-killing pct. was set by the 1969-70 team, which stopped 86.1 percent of opponent power plays ... the current power-play pct. (.177) is better than four of the previous five season-ending percentages (the ’94-’95 team converted on 22.0 percent).

    BACK TOGETHER: Sophomores Nathan Borega and Tyson Fraser have skated together for the last six games, after spending the bulk of their freshman season as a defensive tandem ... in their first game back together, Fraser and Borega scored both Irish goals in the 4-2 loss to Lake Superior ... they have helped Notre Dame allow just 11 goals in the last five games ... the 6-2, 225-pound Borega is +3 for the season and has totaled just 11 penalties (0.61/gm) despite his physical style of play (he has just one penalty in the last eight games) ... Fraser has recorded an assist in eight games this season and ranks fifth on the team in plus-minus (+4) ... Fraser’s eight assists are tied for fifth among all Irish players ... he has just five penalties this season and 22 in 47 career games.

    HOLD ON TO THAT LEAD: Notre Dame is 7-0-0 this season when leading at the first intermission, after going just 4-5-0 last season when ahead after the first 20 minutes of play.

    SHARPSHOOTER: Junior left wing Aniket Dhadphale’s impressive start to the 1997-98 season hints at a possible return to the form that saw him lead the Irish in goals as a freshman (13), when he converted on 18.1 percent of his 72 shots ... Dhadphale then endured a sophomore slump, scoring just five times on 109 shots (4.6 percent) ... this season, Dhadphale has more than doubled his sophomore goal total and is tied for third in the CCHA with 11 goals, trailing only Michigan’s Bill Muckalt (18) and Ohio State sophomore Eric Meloche (12) ... Dhadphale has converted on 24.4 percent of his 45 shots (an average of one goal per every 4.1 shots on goal) and owns the best shooting pct. among Irish players with 14-plus shots.

    SIMPLE SIMON: Notre Dame sophomore center Ben Simon has been Mr. Reliable this season, recording at least one point in 14 of 18 games ... he leads the Irish and ranks eighth in the CCHA with 21 points, including a season goal total (8) that is double his output from 1996-97 (4), when he did not score a goal until the 15th game of the season ... Simon’s three power-play goals equal his freshman year total while his three shorthanded goals are more than Notre Dame’s team total (2) for all of 1996-97.

    STRONG DOWN THE STRETCH: Third-period production has proven to be one of the key factors in Notre Dame’s first 18 games this season ... after dominating the third-period scoring earlier this season, Notre Dame now is being outscored 22-20 in the final 20 minutes ... the Irish have outscored the opposition 13-3 in the third period of the nine Notre Dame wins ... in Notre Dame’s seven losses, the opposition has owned a 19-7 third-period scoring edge ... the Irish opened with three wins thanks to an 8-0 third-period scoring edge ... in the fourth game of the season, Boston College soared to three goals in a five-minute span to post a 3-2 win ... this trend has continued through most of the games this season, with Lake Superior using three third-period goals for a 4-2 win before scoring in the final two minutes to force a 3-3 tie the next night.

    GO-TO-GROUP: Notre Dame head coach Dave Poulin remarked before the season that the Irish likely would not have a 30-goal scorer and would need to count on several players for timely goals ... although junior LW Aniket Dhadphale (13 goals) and sophomore C Ben Simon (8) have set early paces for 20-30 goal seasons, the Irish truly have relied on balanced--and sometimes unexpected--scoring, as recently seen in freshman Chad Chipchase’s hat trick in the 4-3 loss at Ferris State ... the team’s #2-#8 scorers all have between 10-16 points, while six players have between 4-6 goals ... three players--Simon, junior LW Brian Urick and senior C Lyle Andrusiak--have come through with a pair of game-winning goals while three others have one game-winner (Dhadphale, senior C Steve Noble and freshman LW Dan Carlson) ... after Simon’s 21 points (8-13), Notre Dame’s top goal-scoring threats have come from Urick (6-10), Dhadphale (11-4), Noble (4-10), Carlson (5-8), junior D Benoit Cotnoir (5-7), Andrusiak (6-4) and Chipchase (4-0) ... three other players have compiled high assist numbers: freshman D Mark Eaton (1-9), sophomore D Tyson Fraser (1-8) and sophomore RW Joe Dusbabek (1-8).

    TAKING ADVANTAGE OF HIS (MAN-UP) OPPORTUNITIES: Junior defenseman Benoit Cotnoir has totaled 43 career points (16 G, 30 A) from the blue line, with nearly 63 percent (5 G, 12 A) of his 27 points during the past two seasons coming on the power play.

    BACK IN THE GROOVE: Junior right wing Brian Urick totaled just one goal in the first 13 games this season but has added five goals in his last five outings, including both Irish scores in the 4-2 loss to Wisconsin ... Urick’s 16 points include 10 assists (second on the team to Ben Simon’s 13) while he leads the team with 65 shots on goal, having converted on just 9.2 percent of those shots ... Urick ranked among Notre Dame’s scoring leaders the past two seasons--he shared for the team scoring lead last season (13 G, 12 A)--and has totaled 31 goals and 37 assists in 88 career games ... Urick scored on 15.1 percent of his shots during his first two seasons.

    THE EISMAN COMETH ... AND TAKETH AWAY: Despite some recent defensive breakdowns in front of him, senior G Matt Eisler owns a 2.91 goals-against average and .904 save percentage this season while leading the Irish to a .866 penalty-killing pct. ... Eisler was named the CCHA defensive player of the week, after making 63 saves and allowing just four goals in the sweep at St. Cloud State on Oct. 17-18 (4-3, 4-1) ... he also had 32 saves in the 6-1 win at Michigan State and 33 stops in the 4-2 win over Western Michigan ... Eisler’s 2.91 GAA ranks sixth among CCHA goaltenders with 12-plus games played while his .904 save pct. ranks fifth ... his 2.91 GAA would rank third in Irish history--behind John Barry’s 2.00 in 1968-69 and Chris Cathcart’s 2.83 in 1970-71--while his .904 save pct. is just behind Mark Kronholm’s Irish record (.907, in 1970-71) ... Eisler’s .879 career save pct. ranks fourth in Irish history while his 2,457 career saves rank sixth, within range of Kronholm (2,566), Bob McNamara (2,577, 1979-83) and Dave Laurion (2,600, 1978-82), the current Alaska Fairbanks head coach ... Eisler has carried the Irish to a 2.72 season team GAA that would blow away the team record of 3.40, set in 1987-88 ... the current team save pct. (.903) also would best the long-standing Irish record of .891 (set in 1976-77).

    DUS STILL IS DUE: Sophomore right wing Joe Dusbabek---who will miss the next four games while playing at the world junior championship--failed to score during the first eight games (18 shots) this season, before redirecting a pass from classmate Ben Simon for a 2-1 Irish lead in the 5-4 loss at Miami on Nov. 15 ... after sharing for the team scoring lead last season (13 G, 12 A), Dusbabek was looking to use that goal at Miami as a jumpstart but he has not scored in the last nine games (16 shots) ... Dusbabek’s longest goal drought last season was six games, en route to finishing as runner-up for the CCHA rookie of the year award ... Dusbabek is tied for fifth on the Irish squad with eight assists but has just four of those assists in the last 15 games, giving him only five points since posting two assists in each win at St. Cloud State on Oct. 17-18 ... he has scored on just 2.8 percent of his 36 shots (averaging just 2.0 shots/gm), after ranking third on the 1996-97 Irish with a 15.5 percent shooting accuracy ... Dusbabek has managed just two or fewer shots in 14 games this season and has totaled more than four shots just once (launching seven in the 2-1 win over Bowling Green).

    THE PRE-CCHA DAYS: Nearly 40 percent of the 272 players that had played for a CCHA team this season (as of Nov. 11) are products of either the United States Hockey League (54) or the North American Hockey League (52) ... Ferris State an Miami each had used eight former USHL players as of Nov. 11 while Notre Dame had played seven: junior C Craig Hagkull (Des Moines Buccaneers), junior G Forrest Karr (Wisconsin Capitols), sophomore D Sean Molina (Dubuque Fighting Saints), freshman D Ryan Clark (Lincoln Stars), freshman RW Ryan Dolder (Twin City Vulcans) freshman D Mark Eaton (Waterloo Blackhawks) and freshman LW Jay Kopischke (North Iowa Huskies) ... Ohio State (9) and FSU (7) had featured the most NAHL players while Notre Dame has one--sophomore C Ben Simon (Cleveland Junior Barons) ... 20 former high school or prep players (that went directly to college) had skated for a CCHA team through the first month of the season, with Michigan accounting for seven of those players while Notre Dame had five: senior G Matt Eisler, junior RW Brian Urick, sophomore C Troy Bagne, sophomore RW Joe Dusbabek and freshman LW Dan Carlson ... Notre Dame’s other nine players who had seen action as of Nov. 11 include two each from: the Midwest Junior B League (senior C Steve Noble and junior LW Aniket Dhadphale, both from the Stratford Cullitons), the Provincial Junior A League (junior D Scott Giuliani/Burlington Cougars and freshman RW Matt Van Arkel/Milton Merchants), the Saskatchewan Junior A League (senior C Lyle Andrusiak/Notre Dame Hounds and junior D Benoit Cotnoir/Weyburn Red Wings) and the British Columbia Junior Hockey League (sophomore D Tyson Fraser/Royal City Outlaws and sophomore D Nathan Borega/Vernon Vipers ... freshman F Chad Chipchase played for the Waterloo Siskins of the Western Ontario League.

    Central Collegiate Hockey Association Standings  
    TEAM (overall record)         W   L   T   PTS  GF   GA   PEN   Power Play   Penalty-Kill.
    1.  Michigan (14-3-1)         9   2   1   19   70   41   175   (2) 20.7%   (7)  83.5%
    2.  Michigan State (14-2-2)   8   2   1   17   56   28   158   (9) 13.5%   (1)  91.2%
    3.  Miami University (11-3-0) 8   3   0   16   69   37   128   (1) 32.0%   (6)  84.1%
    4.  Northern Michigan (8-5-3) 7   4   2   16   58   51   168   (11)10.8%   (10) 79.2%
    5.  Lake Superior (7-7-3)     6   5   3   15   57   60   174   (4) 17.4%   (2)  88.5%
    6.  Ferris State (5-9-3)      5   6   3   13   55   63   150   (3) 17.6%   (9)  80.5%  
    7.  Notre Dame (9-7-2)        5   5   2   12   57   49   121   (6) 16.5%   (4)  86.6%
    8.  Ohio State (9-8-1)        6   7   0   12   62   51   176   (7) 16.7%   (3)  87.1%
    9.  Western Michigan (5-11-2) 4  11   1    9   40   49   185   (5) 16.8%   (5)  85.9%  
    10. Alaska Fairbanks (5-12-2) 4  11   1    9   64   89   207   (3) 18.4%   (11) 78.8%
    11. Bowling Green (3-13-2)    2   8   2    6   46   71   188   (10) 12.6%  (8)  81.1%
    
    NATIONAL HOCKEY POLLS (12/16)
    USA Today/American Hockey
    Magazine Coaches Poll   
    1.   Boston University (8; 11-1-2) 97
    2.   Michigan State (2; 12-2-2)    92
    3.   North Dakota (8-3-1)          71
    4.   New Hampshire (12-3-1)        68
    5.   Colorado College  (10-4-2)    49
    6.   Miami (11-3-0)                41
    7.   Michigan (14-3-1)             40
    8.   St. Cloud State (10-4-2)      33
    9.   Boston College (11-5-1)       24
    10.   Providence (10-3-1)          15
    Others receiving votes: Yale (8), Wisconsin (6),
    Cornell (4), Colgate (1), Princeton (1).
    
    U.S. College Hockey Online Coaches Poll    
    1.   Boston University (10, 11-1-2) 288
    2.   Michigan State (12-2-2)        261
    3.   New Hampshire (12-3-1)         228
    4.   North Dakota (1; 8-3-1)        218
    5.   Michigan (14-3-1)              161
    6.   Miami (11-3-0)                 128
    7.   St. Cloud State (10-4-2)       122
    8.   Colorado College  (10-4-2)     110
    9.   Yale (8-2-0)                    65
    10.  Boston College (10-5-1)         29
    Others receiving votes: Providence (21),
    Colgate (16), Wisconsin (2), Northeastern (1).
    
    WMEB Media Poll   
    1.   Boston University (4; 11-1-2) 85
    2.   Michigan State (3; 12-2-2)    78
    3.   North Dakota (2; 8-3-1)       76
    4.   New Hampshire (12-3-1)        53
    5.   Michigan (14-3-1)             46
         Colorado College (10-4-2)     46
    7.   Miami (11-3-0)                40
    8.   St. Clous State (10-4-2)      31
    9.   Boston College (11-5-1)       15
    10.  Providence (10-3-1)            9
    Others receiving votes: Yale, (7),
    Colgate (5), Cornell (3), Maine (1).
    
    WMPL Coaches Poll   
    1.   Boston University (10, 11-1-2) 141
    2.   Michigan State (12-2-2)        129
    3.   North Dakota (1; 8-3-1)        111
    4.   Michigan (14-3-1)               96
    5.   New Hampshire (12-3-1)          88
    6.   Colorado College  (10-4-2)      71
    7.   Miami (11-3-0)                  69
    8.   St. Cloud State (10-4-2)        60
    9.   Yale (8-2-0)                    52
    10.  Providence (10-3-1)             44
    Others receiving votes: Boston College 33,
    Wisconsin 18, Colgate 17, Northern Michigan,
    Princeton, Cornell, Lake Superior State, Maine.
    

    NOTRE DAME HOCKEY - making strides
    (all improvements indicated by "+", italics = area of non-improvement)

                                  1996-97   1997-98        Change
    Wins                          9-25-1      9-7-2   
    Winning pct.                  27.1%       52.8%        +25.7%
    One-goal games                15 (3-12)   8 (4-4)   
    Goals per game                2.63        3.17         +0.54
    
    Shots per game                27.2        27.3         +0.1
    Shooting pct.                 9.7%        11.6%        +1.9%
    Opponent shots/gm             31.8        27.9         +3.9
    Shot margin                  -4.6        -0.6          +4.0
    
    Power-play  pct.              12.7%       16.5%        +3.8%
    Power-play goals/gm           0.66        0.94         +0.28
    Shorthanded goals/gm          0.06 (2)    0.28 (5)     +0.22
    Penalties per game            8.69        6.72         +1.97
    
    Penalty-killing pct.          81.3%       86.6%        +5.3%
    Goals-against-avg.            3.73        2.72         +1.01
    Save pct.                     88.2%       90.3%        +2.1%
    Goal margin                  -1.11        0.44         +1.55
    Shorthanded goals allowed/gm  0.20 (7)    0.00 (0)     +0.20
    
    1st period goals/gm           0.66 (23)   0.94 (17)    +0.28
    1st period goal margin       -0.46(23-39)+0.33 (17-11) +0.79
    3rd period goals/gm           0.94 (33)   1.11 (20)    +0.17
    3rd period goal margin       -0.26(33-42)-0.11 (20-22) +0.15
    
    Ahead at 1st intermission    4-5-0 (.444) 5-0-0 (1.00) +.556
    Ahead at 2nd intermission    6-2-0 (.750) 7-3-1 (.682) -.068
    

    18-GAME CHECKUP: After breaking for the holidays, the Irish can point to many statistical trends that show significant progress from the 1996-97 campaign ... in fact, Notre Dame has improved or remained on the same pace in most of the 23 categories listed above ... the most significant offensive improvements have come in the areas of goals per game (up 0.54), shooting pct. (up 1.9%), power-play pct. (up 3.8%) and power-play goals per game (up 0.28) ... noteworthy improvements on the defensive end include the 86.6 percent penalty-killing unit (up 5.3%), a 2.72 goals against average (1.01 better than last season) and just 6.72 penalties per game (1.97 fewer than in ’96-’97) ... Notre Dame already has more that twice the shorthanded goals (5) it totaled in all of 1996-97 (2) .. .the Irish are 4-4 in one-goal games this season, after going 3-12 a year ago, and 5-0 when leading at the first intermission (4-5 last season).

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