Jan. 27, 1998
Irish Face Home-and-Away Series with Michigan
CCHA Standings Still Up for Grabs
* CCHA standings still up for grabs after overtime win at BG, loss at OSU
* Eaton, Carlson making push for CCHA all-rookie honors
* Noble named finalist for national Hockey Humanitarian Award
* Dhadphale, Urick add to goal totals; Karr pushes record to 6-1-1
Notre Dame (13-11-3, 8-8-3 CCHA) returns home this week for a Jan. 30 game vs. #7-ranked and CCHA-leading Michigan before travelling to Ann Arbor the next day for a second game with the Wolverines ... the teams also will meet at Notre Dame on March 7, in the regular season finale ... the Irish will play seven of their final 11 games at home ... the final six weeks should feature jockeying for the eight Central Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament spots (the top-four spots earn home-ice for the 2-of-3 series) ... eight points separate fourth from eighth place in the CCHA standings: Northern Michigan (25/11-7-3), Ohio State (22, 11-9-0), Lake Superior (20/8-7-4), Notre Dame (19/8-8-3) and Ferris St. (17/8-8-3) ... this week's other two-game CCHA series action: OSU at WMU, Lake at BG, Miami at MSU and NMU at FSU ... Notre Dame already has surpassed its victory and point total from last season (9-25-1).
AROUND THE HORN: Notre Dame is 10-6-0 away from home, 3-5-3 at home ... the Irish are tied with Michigan and Boston College as the third-youngest team in Division I hockey ... Notre Dame remains the CCHA's least-penalized team (6.15/gm) for the second straight season, allowing a CCHA-low 4.11 opponent power-play chances per game ... the Irish are on pace to set records for team goals-against average (2.74) and save percentage (.898) while the team's penalty-killing percentage (.856) is best at Notre Dame since 1969-70 (.861) ... Notre Dame's top scorers are sophomore C Ben Simon (8-16-24), junior D Benoit Cotnoir (8-15-23), senior C Steve Noble (8-15-23), junior RW Brian Urick (12-10-22), junior LW Aniket Dhadphale (17-5-22) and freshman LW Dan Carlson (8-11-19) ... Dhadphale is the CCHA's fourth-leading goal scorer and is tied for second in the CCHA with eight PPGs (behind Michigan's Bill Muckalt, who has 11) ... 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 ... Notre Dame is allowing just 2.85 goals per game, fifth-best in the CCHA ... the Irish rank eighth in scoring (3.31 gpg) among the CCHA teams ... Notre Dame's power-play unit has scored 27 goals while allowing just two opponent shorthanded goals (tied for fewest in the CCHA), for a "+25" power play that ranks behind only Michigan (+34, 36/2) and MSU (+26, 29/3) ... the Irish also have the second-best penalty-killing goal ratio (-9, 16 PPGs allowed/7 SHG scored), behind Lake Superior's "-4" (15 PPG all./11 SHG for) ... the Irish recently welcomed back sophomore forwards Ben Simon and Joe Dusbabek, who helped the United States claim fifth place at the World Junior Championship in Finland (Simon had a goal and three assists, Dusbabek two goals) ... in Notre Dame's 13 wins, the Irish have owned an 18-7 third-period scoring edge while being outscored 20-4 in the final 20 minutes of their 11 losses.
SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES: Michigan (20-6-1, 14-4-1 CCHA) is coming off a pair of losses at Miami (1-3, 3-4), closing its gap on second-place MSU (13-3-2) to one point while Miami (12-5-2) is just three points off the pace and NMU four points back ... Michigan--which was picked third in the preseason CCHA coaches poll (behind MSU and Miami) returns 14 of 23 letterwinners from its 1996-97 team that went 35-4-4 en route to the CCHA title and the NCAA semifinals ... Michigan's biggest losses from last season include three players with 60-plus points: Hobey Baker Award winner Brendan Morrison (31-57-68), John Madden (26-37-63) and Jason Botterill (37-24-61), plus first-line defensemen Harold Schock and Blake Sloan ... senior RW Bill Muckalt and senior G Marty Turco have emerged as strong candidates for this year's Hobey Baker Award ... Muckalt leads the CCHA in points (45), goals (25), power-play goals (11) and game-winning goals (7) ... Turco's 114 career wins are an NCAA record, surpasing former Michigan goalie Steve Shields' total of 111 ... Turco's season totals include a 20-6-1 record,. 2.28 goals-against average (third in the CCHA) and .905 save pct. ... Michigan's other leading scorers include junior C Bobby Hayes (16-16-32), freshman C Mark Kosick (7-21-28) and freshman F Josh Langfeld (12-26-18) ... Langfeld owns eight power-play goals (tied for second in the DCCHA) while Hayes owns a CCHA-best four shorthanded goals and an eight-game scoring streak (7-9-16) ... Michigan ranks second in the CCHA for power play (.206) and sixth in penalty killing (.839) ... the Wolverines are averaging 3.81 goals per game (second in the CCHA to Miami's 4.38) while allowing just 2.33 per game (second-best, behind MSU's 1.70) ... Michigan is 8-3-1 on the road this season, 9-3-0 in one-goal games (one win shy of tying the team record), 3-0-1 in overtime games, 13-0-0 when ahead at the second intermission and 15-2-1 when scoring first ... Michigan's 10 freshmen have combined for 104 points (30-74) and have had a hand in 69% of the team's goals ... just 27% of the minutes during Michigan's games this season have featured leads of two goals or more ... Michigan's CCHA losses have come vs. MSU (2-4), at Northern Michigan (0-1) and at Miami (1-3, 3-4), with a 3-3 tie at Ferris State ... Michigan also lost early in the season to Colgate (1-2) and lost to MSU (3-5) in a non-CCHA game at Joe Louis Arena.
THE SERIES: Michigan leads the series, 45-36-2, and has won 24 of its last 25 vs. the Irish ... Notre Dame ended an 18-game losing streak vs. UM with a 6-3 win at the Joyce Center on Feb. 25, 1995, with current senior Steve Noble assisting on the goal that put Notre Dame ahead 2-0 in the second period ... Michigan won last year's games vs. Notre Dame by scores of 6-3, 3-1 and 6-1 ... in last year's first game (at ND), five UM players scored in the first period and UM staved off a second-period Irish rally ... that victory was the 15th straight win for UM, equaling the school record (MSU beat UM the next night) ... Notre Dame scored three unanswered goals--by Benoit Cotnoir, Joe Dusbabek and Aniket Dhadphale--in the first 12 minutes of the second before Bill Muckalt stopped the Irish momentum ... Matt Eisler finished strong, stopping 24 of UM's 25 shots in the final two periods ... UM's Marty Turco had 28 saves ... Cotnoir converted on a two-man advantage, launching a low blast from the center of the blueline ... Dusbabek scored on the power play, putting back a rebounded a shot from Dhadphale ... at 12:19 of the second, Dhadphale picked up a loose puck in the slot and slid it inside the right post (12:19) ... Michigan broke out to a quick lead in the first 70 seconds of the game when John Madden dropped a centering pass to the trailing Bubba Berenzweig ... the visitors stretched to a 2-0 lead four minutes later, when Mike Legg took a pass from Sloan and beat Eisler with a backhander ... UM tacked on three more goals in five minutes, on scores by Sean Ritchlin, Jason Botterill and Matt Herr ... in the second game (at UM), Eisler made 20 save in the first and 13 in the second, en route to a 44-save night ... Dhadphale scored early in the third, cutting UM's lead to 2-1, but Schock scored for the final margin ... ND had just 15 shots while Botterill and Berenzweig also scored for UM ... UM was 4-for-12 on the power play in the final win, with two goals from Morrison and one each from Warren Luhning, Hayes, Mike Legg and Herr ... Brian Urick's goal midway through the third averted the shutout.
FRIEND OR FOE?: Several Notre Dame and Michigan players are past teammates: ND senior C Steve Noble and UM senior G Marty Turco (Soo Legion AAA Midgets); ND junior C Craig Hagkull and UM freshman F Bill Trainor (Des Moines Buccaneers); ND sophomore RW John Dwyer and UM sophomore D Kevin Magnuson (Dubuque Saints); ND sophomore D Tyson Fraser and UM sophomore D Sean Peach (Team BC); ND sophomore D Andy Jurkowski and UM freshman F Scott Matzka (Wisconsin Capitals); ND sophomore D Sean Seyferth and UM junior C Bobby Hayes and junior RW Dale Rominski (Compuware Ambassadors); ND freshman LW Chad Chipchase and UM freshman D Mike VanRyn (Team Ontario); and ND freshman D Ryan Clark and UM freshman F Josh Langfeld (Lincoln Stars).
RECAP (ND 5 @BG 4/OT, 1/24/98) - Brian Urick's fourth game-winning goal of the season provided the difference in overtime ... Steve Noble scored two goals and assisted on a third while Ryan Dolder netted the first goal of his career ... the Irish have won four of their last five games vs. Bowling Green, including three straight at the BGSU Ice Arena ... BG forced overtime on Chris Bonvie's two-man power-play goal with 2:44 left in the third ... Urick ended the game 46 seconds into OT, after taking a pass from Nathan Borega, skating into the right circle and sending a low shot through the legs of goalie Shawn Timm ... Forrest Karr made 30 saves while picking up his eighth career win and third at the BGSU Ice Arena ... both teams had 34 shots ... Notre Dame struck first on its seventh shorthanded goal of the season, at 6:09 of the first ... Noble led the charge down the left side and left the puck for Dan Carlson, who one-timed a shot into the net ... BG matched the Irish 42 seconds later, with a power-play goal from John Hustler ... the Irish stretched to a 3-1 lead with two goals in the first nine minutes of the second ... Noble rifled a shot in transition from the top of the left circle that snuck between Timm and the left post (5:11) ... Aniket Dhadphale set up Dolder's goal with a pass down the left side, just as he was being smashed into the wall by a BGSU defenseman ... Dolder received the puck in stride and streaked down the left side, angling into the crease as he nudged a shot toward the goal ... Timm deflected the puck to the right side of the crease, but Dolder was able to slap the puck into the right corner of the net as he was falling backwards toward the endline (9:12) ... the Irish converted on their second two-man advantage of the night, when Noble tipped home a Benoit Cotnoir shot early in the third. (@OSU 5 ND 3, 1/25/98) - Eric Meloche broke a 3-3 tie with his second goal of the game less than two minutes into the third ... Meloche knocked in a rebound for the first goal of the game at 6:14 of the first ... OSU quickly made it 2-0, as Jean-Francois Dufour lit the lamp 11 seconds later ... the Irish pulled to within 2-1 just before intermission on a four-on-four situation, when Benoit Cotnoir converted a slapshot from the center of the blueline ... OSU regained a two-goal advantage on a shorthanded goal by Neal Rech, the first shorthanded goal allowed by Notre Dame all season ... Chris Richards led an odd man rush on the right side before crossing the puck to Rech, who beat Notre Dame goaltender Matt Eisler ... Notre Dame answered with a power-play goal by Aniket Dhadphale, who fired a shot through traffic from the top of the left circle past OSU goaltender Ray Aho ... Notre Dame tied the score at three when John Dwyer redirected a shot from the point by defenseman Mark Eaton ... less than two minutes into the third, the Irish surrendered another shorthanded goal as Meloche converted a breakaway opportunity ... OSU added an insurance goal 11:42 into the period when Vinnie Grant took a feed from Brandon LaFrance in the slot and sent a one-timer past Eisler.
NOTRE DAME HOCKEY SIGNS CORNELIUS, INMAN: Notre Dame signed defenseman Sam Cornelius (Edina, Minn.) and center David Inman (Toronto, Ont.) to national letters of intent during the fall early signing period ... Cornelius, a former high school teammate of Notre Dame freshman left wing Dan Carlson, should provide an added boost to an Irish defensive unit that currently includes two juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen ... a strong skater who is noted for his combination of physical play and offensive ability, the 6-0, 190-pound lefthander will be expected to challenge for a spot among Notre Dame's top six defensemen ... as a junior at Edina High School, Cornelius scored the game-winning overtime goal in the state semi-finals vs. Hill-Murray High School (Carlson went on to score vs. current Irish freshman goaltender Kyle Kolquist for a 1-0 win over Duluth East in the state championship game) ... Cornelius was named to the Minnesota all-state-tournament team and was invited to the USA Hockey select-17 camp. In addition to playing his senior season at Edina, Cornelius also is playing junior hockey with the Twin City Vulcans ... Cornelius will join Carlson as one of several former players from Edina, Minn. who have played noteworthy roles in the history of Notre Dame hockey, led by All-American defenseman Bill Nyrop, who played for the Irish from 1970-74 and was the program's first National Hockey League draft pick, by the Montreal Canadiens in 1972 ... current Notre Dame junior center Neal Johnson also is a product of Edina High School, while current assistant coach Tom Carroll--now in his 13th season with the Irish--played on two state championship teams at Edina East High School before earning a spot on the hockey team at Wisconsin, where he played on the Badgers teams that won the NCAA title in 1981 and '83 while finishing second in '82 ... Inman will bring solid all-around skills to the Irish forward line. Known for his smooth playmaking and vision on the ice, the 6-1, 185-pound lefthander helped Team Ontario capture the gold medal at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge in Red Deer, Alberta ... currently a member of the Wexford Raiders, Inman totaled 32 goals and 56 assists in 43 games during the 1996-97 season while earning the rookie of the year and scholastic player of the year awards for the Metro Junior A Central Division.
A NOBLE MAN: Senior Steve Noble has provided clutch play for the Irish this season, including a goal and four assists over four games while filling in for Ben Simon as the first-line center (Simon was at the World Junior Championship) ... Noble is tied for second on the team with 23 points, including 15 assists (second to Simon's 16)... he has eclipsed his previous career-high in points (20), set in 1995 -96 (5G, 15A) ... a second team Academic All-American as a junior and recent Rhodes Scholar finalist, Noble is one of five finalists for the national Hockey Humanitarian Award (the winner will be announced on April 3 during the NCAA championship weekend in Boston, Mass.).
EATON, CARLSON MAKE CCHA ALL-ROOKIE PUSH: D Mark Eaton and LW Dan Carlson have emerged as two of the top freshmen in the CCHA ... the smooth-skating and heady Eaton is fifth on the team in plus-minus (+6) and has totaled 17 points, including 14 assists (all in CCHA play, a team-best) ... Eaton's recent highlights include two goals and two assists in the 5-1 win at UAF ... the speedy Carlson is fourth on the team in plus-minus (+10) and has eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points (sixth on the team), including 12 points in his last 13 games ... Carlson had a goal and two assists in the 5-1 win over Brown and totaled two goals and an assist in the two-game sweep of Western Michigan, including the game-winning goal at WMU (2-1) and a game-winning assist in the 4-2 home win over the Broncos ... he also had an assist and scored the late game-tying goal vs. Ferris State (5-5), chipped in a goal and assist to the series-clinching win at UAF (5-1) and scored a shorthanded goal in the 5-4 overtime win at Bowling Green.
BLUELINE THREAT: Junior D Benoit Cotnoir's recent surge has landed him in a tie for second on the team in scoring, with 23 points (8 G, 15 A) ... Cotnoir has six points (1 G, 5 A) in the last three games, including three assists in the 5-1 win at UAF ... Cotnoir has totaled 57 career points (19 G, 38 A) from the blue line, with over 63 percent (5 G, 19 A) of his 38 points during the past two seasons coming on the power play.
BACK IN THE GROOVE: Junior RW Brian Urick had one goal in the first 13 games but has added 11 goals in his last 14 outings, including both Irish scores in the 3-2 loss to Wisconsin, two scores in the 5-1 win over Brown, a goal in the 2-2 tie with Miami, a pair of goals at UAF and the overtime game-winner at Bowling Green ... Urick is tied for fourth the team with 22 points (12 G, 10 A) while he leads the squad with 111 shots on goal ... 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 37 goals and 37 assists in 97 career games ... Urick scored on 15.1 percent of his shots during his first two seasons and owns a .108 shooting pct. this season.
FOLLOW THAT KARR!!: Junior Forrest Karr has combined with senior Matt Eisler to form a formidable goaltending duo this season ... Karr is 6-1-1, with road wins at OSU (3-2, 28 saves), WMU (2-1, 11), Wisconsin (4-2, 14), UAF (5-1, 19), vs. Brown at the Mariucci Classic (5-1, 26) and at BG (5-4/OT, 30) while earning a home tie vs. LSSU (3-3, 21) ... Karr ranks 2nd in the CCHA with a 2.06 goals-against avg. while his .907 save pct. is tied for third (MSU's Chad Alban is 1.67, .917 while OSU's Jeff Maund owns a .911) ... Karr and Eisler (2.99, .896) have helped the Irish post a 2.74 team GAA and .898 save pct., both well on pace to set Irish team records.
BACK TOGETHER: Sophomores Nathan Borega and Tyson Fraser have skated together for 14 of the last 15 games, after spending the bulk of their freshman season as a tandem (Fraser did not play in the 3-1 loss to Miami on 1/2) ... in their first game back together, Fraser and Borega scored in the 4-2 loss to Lake Superior ... they have helped Notre Dame allow just 30 goals in their last 12 games together ... the 6-2, 225-pound Borega has totaled just 13 penalties (0.48/gm) despite his physical style (just four penalties in the last 17 games) ... Fraser has an assist in 12 games and ranks seventh on the team in plus-minus (+2) ... his 12 assists are tied for fifth on the team and he has just seven penalties this season and 24 in 55 career games.
RETURN OF THE SNIPER: Junior LW Aniket Dhadphale has returned 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 nearly equaled his freshman and sophomore totals combined, with 17 scores through 27 games, the fourth-most goals in the CCHA behind Michigan's Bill Muckalt (27) and MSU's Sean Berens (21) and Mike York (19) ... Dhadphale has converted on 20.7 percent of his 82 shots (an average of one goal per every 4.8 shots per goal) after scoring just once per every 21.8 shots last season.
SIMON SAYS: Notre Dame sophomore C Ben Simon has at least one point in 18 of the 23 games he has played ... Simon leads the Irish and is tied for 16th in the CCHA with 24 points, including a season goal total (8) that is double his '96-'97 output (4), when Simon 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.
EISMAN COMETH: Despite some rough outings, senior G Matt Eisler owns a 2.99 goals-against average and .896 save pct. while leading the Irish to a .856 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 had 32 saves in the 6-1 win at Michigan State and 33 in the 4-2 win over Western Michigan ... his 2.99 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 .900 save pct. ranks behind Mark Kronholm's Irish record (.907, in 1970-71) and John Peterson's .899 mark in 1976-77 ... Eisler's 2,563 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.
THIRD PERIOD KEY: Third-period production has been crucial in Notre Dame's games this season ... after dominating the third-period scoring earlier this season, Notre Dame now is being outscored 34-26 in the final 20 minutes ... the Irish have outscored the opposition 18-7 in the third period of the 13 Notre Dame wins ... conversely, in Notre Dame's 11 losses, the opposition has owned a 22-4 third-period scoring edge ... in the last 21 games, Notre Dame has been outscored 29-13 in the third period ... the Irish opened with three wins thanks to an 8-0 third-period scoring edge but, in the fourth game, Boston College soared to three goals in a five-minute, third-period span to post a 3-2 win ... that trend has continued through several 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 ... most recently, Northeastern scored three goals in a five-minute stretch during the final period to complete a 4-2 comeback win over the Irish while Miami used two third-period goals for a 3-1 win over the Irish and Ohio State scored twice in the third for a 5-3 win ... the Irish iced the series win at UAF (5-1) with a three-goal outburst in the third.
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.
ROAD WARRIORS: Notre Dame is 10-6-0 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), W. Michigan (2-1), Wisconsin (4-2), Alaska Fairbanks (4-2, 5-1) and Bowling Green (5-4/OT) while beating Brown (5-1) at the Mariucci Classic ... the Irish have lost road games in the final minute at MSU (3-1, with MSU 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) and failing to hold a 2-0 lead on Northeastern at the Mariucci Classic ... Notre Dame has turned in four big third periods on the road, 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, using a four-goal, third-period flurry in the big win at Michigan State and scoring three times in the final 20 minutes to win at UAF (5-1) ... Notre Dame has scored 57 goals away from home on 495 shots on goal, for an average of 8.7 shots per goal (11.5 shooting pct.) ... conversely, in its 11 home games, Notre Dame is just 3-5-3 and has scored just 29 goals on 335 shots, for an average of 11.6 shots per goal (8.7 shooting pct.).
PENALTY-KILLING PLUS: Notre Dame's penalty-killing unit has scored one goal for every 2.3 it has allowed this season, totaling seven shorthanded goals while allowing 16 opponent power-play scores ... the seven shorthanded goals are nearly four times 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 both have two ... Notre Dame's "-9" penalty-killing effort this season is second-best in the CCHA, behind Lake Superior (11 SHG, 15 PPG allowed) ... the other CCHA teams break down as follows: Ohio State (-11), Michigan State (-12), Michigan (-16), Miami (-18), Western Michigan (-23), Ferris State (-27), Bowling Green (-27), Northern Michigan (-27) and Alaska Fairbanks (-33).
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 27 games this season, the Irish again are the CCHA's least-penalized squad, totaling 166 penalties for an average of just 6.15 per game--while posting a 2.74 team goals-against average that would blow away the existing Irish record (3.40, in 1987-88) ... the Irish have allowed just 16 opponent power-play goals, third-fewest in the CCHA behind MSU (14) and Lake Superior (15) ... the Irish have allowed just 4.11 opponent power-play chances per game (lowest in the CCHA) and 111 total opponents PP chances (Ferris State has the second fewest, at 131) ... Notre Dame has totaled four or fewer penalties in 12 games this season and has averaged just 4.77 penalties/gm over the past 13 outings ... after Notre Dame, the CCHA's least-penalized teams this season are: Michigan (8.52), Michigan State (8.52), Ferris State (8.64) and Miami (8.75) ... the CCHA's most-penalized teams are Western Michigan (10.82), Alaska Fairbanks (10.81), Lake Superior (10.36), Northern Michigan (10.15), Bowling Green (9.77) and Ohio State (9.68) ... hard-hitting Irish sophomore D Nathan Borega has just 13 penalties this season (four in the last 17 games) and less than one per game in his career (44 in 62 games) ... other disciplined Irish skaters include: senior C Steve Noble (six penalties in '97-'98, 22 in last 59) and sophomore D Tyson Fraser (six penalties in '97-'98, 22 in 55 career games) ... junior RW Brian Urick struggled with untimely penalties his first two seasons (58 in 70 games) but has just seven penalties this season.
SPECIAL IMPROVEMENT: Despite a power-play slip leading up to the UAF series, Notre Dame has converted on 7-of-26 power-play chances during the last five games ... Notre Dame's season power-play pct. (.184/27-for-147) is up considerably from last season (.127) and ranks fifth 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 .856 (95-for-111), fifth-best in the CCHA ... the Irish are on pace to challenge the team record for season penalty-killing pct., set by the 1969-70 team (.861).
HOLD ON TO THAT LEAD: Notre Dame is 8-2-0 this season when leading at the first intermission (with losses to Boston College and Northeastern), after going just 4-5-0 last season when ahead after the first 20 minutes ... five of Notre Dame's 11 losses this season have come after the Irish held a lead at the second intermission, as Notre Dame is 11-5-2 in games when leading after 40 minutes (losses to Boston College, Ferris State, Lake Superior, Northeastern and Alaska Fairbanks).
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 (17 goals) and junior RW Brian Urick (12) have set paces for high goal totals, the Irish truly have relied on balanced--and sometimes unexpected--scoring, as seen in freshman Chad Chipchase's hat trick in the 4-3 loss at Ferris State ... the team's top six scorers all have between 19-24 points, while five players have between 6-8 goals ... two players--Simon and senior C Lyle Andrusiak--have come through with a pair of game-winning goals while Urick has a team-high five GWGs and three other players have scored one game-winner (Dhadphale, senior C Steve Noble and freshman LW Dan Carlson) ... after Simon's 24 points (8-16), Notre Dame's top goal-scoring threats have come from Urick (12-10), Dhadphale (17-5), Noble (8-15), Carlson (8-11), junior D Benoit Cotnoir (8-15) and Andrusiak (6-8) ... two defensemen have compiled high assist numbers: freshman Mark Eaton (3-14) and sophomore Tyson Fraser (1-12).
FEELING A DRAFT: Notre Dame matched Boston College with the most players selected in the 1997 NHL draft (four): Ben Simon (5th rd, Chicago), Joe Dusbabek (7th rd, San Jose), Jay Kopischke (8th rd, L.A.) and Ryan Clark (9th rd, N.Y. Islanders) ... Notre Dame has seven former NHL draft picks on its roster (second to Michigan's nine among CCHA teams), with the others being senior C Steve Noble (St. Louis Blues), junior RW Brian Urick (Edmonton Oilers) and junior LW Aniket Dhadphale (San Jose Sharks).
Central Collegiate Hockey Association Standings TEAM (overall record) W L T PTS GF GA PEN Power Play Penalty-Kill. 1. Michigan (20-6-1) 14 4 1 29 103 63 261 (2) 20.6% (6) 83.9% 2. Michigan State (21-3-3) 13 3 2 28 98 46 230 (4) 19.9% (2) 89.6% 3. Miami University (17-5-2) 12 5 2 26 105 68 210 (1) 25.7% (4) 86.0% 4. Northern Michigan (13-9-4) 11 7 3 25 92 83 264 (11) 12.4% (9) 78.8% 5. Ohio State (14-10-1) 11 9 0 22 87 69 242 (8) 14.6% (3) 86.6% 6. Lake Superior (11-10-4) 8 8 4 20 84 84 259 (8) 14.6% (1) 90.6% 7. Notre Dame (13-11-3) 8 8 3 19 86 74 166 (5) 18.4% (5) 85.6% 8. Ferris State (10-12-3) 7 8 3 17 88 90 216 (3) 20.0% (10) 78.6% 9. Alaska Fairbanks (7-17-2) 6 16 1 13 80 121 281 (6) 16.6% (11) 76.9% 10. Western Michigan (5-20-2) 4 14 1 9 58 95 292 (7) 14.9% (7) 82.1% 11. Bowling Green (4-20-2) 2 14 2 6 68 111 254 (10) 13.6% (8) 81.0% US College Hockey Online Coaches Poll (1/26) 1. Michigan State (17; 19-3-3) 278 2. North Dakota (9; 17-4-1) 262 3. Boston University (16-4-2) 226 4. New Hampshire (4; 16-4-1) 220 5. Miami (17-5-2) 170 6. Wisconsin (17-6-1) 120 7. Michigan (19-6-1) 112 8. Boston College (15-6-3) 94 9. St. Cloud State (15-7-2) 85 10. Yale (14-4-0) 54 Others receiving votes: Colgate (10), Northeastern (8), Colorado College (6), Clarkson (3), Cornell (2). NOTRE DAME HOCKEY - making strides (all improvements indicated by "+", italics = area of non-improvement) 1996-97 1997-98 Change Wins 9-25-1 13-11-3 +4 Winning pct. 27.1% 53.7% +26.6% One-goal games 15 (3-12/.200) 10 (5-5/.500) +.300 Goals per game 2.63 3.19 +0.56 Shots per game 27.2 30.7 +3.5 Shooting pct. 9.7% 10.4% +0.7% Opponent shots/gm 31.8 26.8 +5.0 Shot margin -4.6 +3.9 +8.7 Power-play pct. 12.7% 18.9% +6.2% Power-play goals/gm 0.66 1.00 (27) +0.34 Shorthanded goals/gm 0.06 (2) 0.26 (7) +0.20 Penalties per game 8.69 6.15 +2.54 Penalty-killing pct. 81.3% 85.6% +4.3% Goals-against-avg. 3.73 2.74 +0.99 Save pct. 88.2% 89.8% +1.6% Goal margin -1.11 0.44 +1.55 Shorthanded gls alwd/gm 0.20 (7) 0.07 (2) +0.13 1996-97 1997-98 Change 1st period goals/gm 0.66 (23) 0.85 (23) +0.19 1st period goal margin -0.46 (23-39) +0.22 (23-17) +0.68 3rd period goals/gm 0.94 (33) 0.96 (26) +0.02 3rd period goal margin -0.26 (33-42) -0.30 (26-34) -0.04 Ahead at 1st intermission 4-5-0 (.444) 8-2-0 (.800) +.356 Ahead at 2nd intermission 6-2-0 (.750) 11-5-2 (.667) -.083
27-GAME CHECKUP: As Notre Dame heads into its final 11 regular-season games, the Irish can point to many statistical trends that show significant progress from the 1996-97 campaign ... Notre Dame has improved or remained on the same pace in most of the 23 categories listed above, including a winning pct. (.537) that is nearly double that of last season (.271) ... the most significant offensive improvements have come in the areas of goals per game (up 0.56), shot margin (up +8.7/gm), power-play pct. (up 6.2%) and power-play goals per game (up 0.34) ... noteworthy improvements on the defensive end include the 85.6 percent penalty-killing unit (up 4.3%), a 2.74 goals against average (0.99 better than last season), an 89.8 save pct. (up 1.6) and just 6.15 penalties per game (2.54 fewer than in '96-'97) ... Notre Dame has nearly four times as many shorthanded goals (7) than it totaled in all of 1996-97 (2) and owns a 23-17 first-period scoring edge (the opponents outscored the Irish 39-23 last season) ... the Irish are 5-5 in one-goal games this season, after going 3-12 a year ago, and 8-2-0 when leading at the first intermission (4-5-0 last season) ... the third period has yielded the only negative changes in the above categories, as the Irish are being outscored 34-26 in the final period and are just 11-5-2 when holding a second-intermission lead.