Feb. 10, 1998
Irish Play Host to Ohio State, Travel to WMU
Game with Buckeyes to decide season series, playoff positioning
Notre Dame (14-13-4, 9-10-4 CCHA) plays host to CCHA fourth-place team Ohio State on Fri., Feb. 13 before playing the next night at 10th-place Western Michigan ... Notre Dame is tied with Lake Superior (9-10-4) for sixth place in the CCHA and is seven points behind OSU with seven games to play, in the race for home ice in the eight-team CCHA Tournament (the top four teams will host best-two-of-three series) ... Notre Dame split two earlier games at OSU (2-3, 3-5) while sweeping a home-and-home weekend with WMU (2-1, 4-2) ... Friday's game will determine the ND-OSU season series (OSU will own the series tiebreaker if the teams play to a tie, based on a +1 goal differential in the previous two games) ... the WMU game will be Notre Dame's fourth appearance on the CCHA “game of the week” telecast, to be shown nationally by Fox Sports Net (consult local listings) ... Notre Dame last week tied Bowling Green (1-1) and beat Ferris State (7-1), with senior C Lyle Andrusiak (1-3) and junior LW Aniket Dhadphale recording career-best games vs. FSU ... Dhadphale also scored the first goal of the BG game and earned CCHA player of the week honors while Matt Eisler made 53 saves during the week ... the win over FSU was Notre Dame's biggest margin of victory over a Division I opponent in 15 years, since an 8-1 win over Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 26, 1983.
THE CCHA RACE: Five teams have clinched playoff spots: Michigan (17-4-1), MSU (14-4-4), Miami (13-6-4), OSU (14-9-1) and N. Michigan (12-8-3) ... Notre Dame could clinch this week, as the Irish are two points away from a higher finish than ninth-place UAF (7-16-2), three points away from a higher finish than WMU (5-17-1) and five points shy of finishing ahead of BG (4-15-3) ... FSU (8-11-3) stands eighth, five points ahead of UAF (which still has three home games with WMU) ... Notre Dame and Lake Superior will meet in Sault Ste. Marie on Feb. 21, in a game that could decide which team finishes higher in the standings (LSSU holds a 1-0-1 series lead and is +2 in the goal differential tiebreaker) ... Lake Superior's remaining schedule is slightly tougher than Notre Dame's, as the Irish have four home games to LSSU's three ... both teams have a game left with Michigan, with Notre Dame getting the Wolverines at home, but LSSU also still has home-and-away games with MSU ... four of Notre Dame's remaining games are vs. mid-pack teams (OSU, three vs, UNM), plus the game at WMU, while LSSU still has a home game with ninth-place UAF and a game at eighth-place FSU ... in addition to its three games remaining vs. the Irish (Feb. 20 at home, Feb. 27-28 at the Joyce Center), NMU has home dates with UAF and MSU and road games at BG and Michigan ... OSU has one home game left (vs. Miami) but its road schedule includes two at FSU and one at BG (plus one at MSU).
ICE BREAKERS: The Irish have played to OT their past five weekends (1-2-2) ... Notre Dame is 10-7-0 away from home (3.6 gls/gm), 4-6-4 at home (2.8 gls/gm) ... the Irish are tied with Michigan and Boston College as the third-youngest team in Division I hockey ... Notre Dame is the CCHA's least-penalized team (6.13/gm) for the second straight season, allowing a CCHA-low 4.13 opponent power-play chances/gm ... the Irish are on pace to set records for GAA (2.84) and save pct. (.896) while the team's penalty killing (.852) is best at Notre Dame since '70 ... Notre Dame's 18 starting skaters have included as many as seven freshmen, six sophomores ... the Irish were picked seventh in the preseason CCHA poll ... Notre Dame is allowing 2.84 goals/gm (fifth in CCHA) but is eighth in scoring (3.23 gpg) ... Notre Dame's power-play has 31 goals while allowing two opponent shorthanded goals (tied for fewest in the CCHA), for a “+29” power play ratio that ranks behind only Michigan (+37, 39/2) ... the Irish have the second-best penalty-killing ratio (-12, 19 PPGs all./7 SHG scored), behind LSSU's “-4” (16/12) ... Notre Dame has been outscored 24-7 in the third period of its losses.
AROUND THE HORN: CCHA rookie of the year candidate Mark Eaton has 11 points in the last seven games ... his 29 points (5-15) in CCHA games rank fifth among all freshmen, third among all defensemen ... Eaton's 15 assists in CCHA play are tied for eighth among all CCHA players ... his linemate, junior Benoit Cotnoir, is second among CCHA defensemen for conference scoring (7-11) ... Cotnoir's 15 overall power-play points (3-12) ranks fourth among all CCHA players, first among defensemen ...top scorers: soph. C Ben Simon ( 9-20), jr. LW Aniket Dhadphale (20-7), jr. RW Brian Urick (14-12), sr. C Steve Noble (8-16), Cotnoir (8-15), and fr. LW Dan Carlson (9-12) ... Dhadphale is the CCHA's fourth-leading goal scorer and tied for second in the CCHA with nine PPGs ... seven of Notre Dame's 11 regular veterans already have posted career highs in scoring: Dhadphale, Noble, Simon, Cotnoir, soph. RW John Dwyer (4-4), soph. D Tyson Fraser (1-13) and soph. D Sean Molina (0-6) ... Urick (12-15, in '95-'96) and senior C Lyle Andrusiak (7-11, 7-12 last season) are one point shy of equaling their career best while two sophomores--D Nathan Borega (1-2, 1-6 last year) and C Troy Bagne (1-2, 1-5 last year)--are looking to best their first-year totals ... Simon and Joe Dusbabek helped the U.S. claim fifth at the recent World Junior Championship in Finland (Simon had 1 G, 3 A).
KEYS TO THE GAME: OSU has allowed four SHGs, but two came in Notre Dame's 3-2 win on Nov. 16 (by Benoit Cotnoir, Ben Simon) ... OSU owns the only two SHGs allowed by the Irish (Neal Rech, Eric Meloche), providing the margin in OSU's 5-3 win on Jan. 25 ... OSU helped knock Notre Dame out of the CCHA playoff picture last year, winning 5-4 and 5-3 at ND in early Feb. ... a Notre Dame win Friday could deter OSU's quest for home ice in this year's CCHAs ... Notre Dame has played eight OT games (2-2-4), OSU has played just three (0-1-2) ... OSU is on an 8-0-1 roll (Notre Dame is 4-4-1 in that stretch) but the Irish are coming off their biggest margin of victory vs. a Division I opponent in 15 years (7-1 over FSU) ... OSU is 14-1-0 when holding a second-intermission lead while the Irish are just 12-5-2 ... OSU (9.97) is averaging nearly four more penalties/gm than Notre Dame (6.13) ... consequently, the Irish are averaging just 4.1 opponent power-plays per game (compared to OSU's 5.8) ... OSU has compiled a +14 goal margin in the third period this season (37-23) while Notre Dame is -7 (30-37) ... OSU has four players with 10-plus goals, to Notre Dame's two, but the Irish have seven players with 20-plus points (to OSU's three) ... OSU has eight seniors, Notre Dame three.
SCOUTING OSU: OSU (17-10-2, 14-9-1) jumped into 4th in the CCHA last week after a 4-2 win over MSU and 4-4 tie with UAF ... the season series is even, after Notre Dame won 3-2 at OSU on Nov. 16 before losing at OSU on Jan. 25 (3-5) ... OSU is 8-0-1 in its last nine games ... OSU returns 15 of 22 letterwinners from its '96-'97 team that went 12-25-2 and finished seventh in the CCHA (9-16-2) ... sophomore Hugo Boisvert (17-24/41) is the CCHA's second-leading scorer while his classmate Eric Meloche is tied for eighth (18-16/34) ... two other players have 10-plus goals--junior C Chris Richards (12-19/31) and senior D Ryan Root (10-6/16) ... Boisvert, Meloche and Richards are the only players with 20-plus points (they have 106 of the team's 262 points) ... sophomore G Ray Aho ranks 3rd in the CCHA with a 2.43 GAA (plus a .903 save pct.) ... Aho is 4-5-2 overall, 3-0-1 in his last four outings ... freshman Jeff Maund (13-5-0) provides a solid goalie duo (2.67, .913) ... OSU ranks 7th in the CCHA for power play (.160, 26-for-162), is 3rd in penalty killing (.863, 145-for-168), 4th in scoring (3.48 goals/gm) and 3rd in goals allowed (2.66/gm) ... Boisvert has seven PPGs and Root has six while Meloche has three SHGs and six game-winners ... OSU is 3-4 in one-goal games, 0-1-2 in OT, 14-1-0 when ahead at the second intermission, 13-3-2 when scoring first ... OSU's eight-game win streak included: Lake (7-0), FSU (5-3), BG (4-2), NMU (2-0), ND (5-3), @WMU (4-2, 2-0) ... other CCHA wins: Miami (5-4), @BG (5-4), NMU (5-1, 5-4) and UAF (8-3, 4-0) ... CCHA losses: @Miami (0-3), WMU (1-3), ND (2-3), MSU (1-2), Michigan (2-3/OT), at Lake (3-4, 2-4), at Michigan (2-4, 0-6).
FRIEND OR FOE?: Notre Dame soph. D Sean Seyferth played on the Compuware Ambassadors with three OSU players: soph. F Jason Selleke, soph. F Louie Colsant and soph. G Ray Aho ... Notre Dame fr. RW Ryan Dolder played with OSU fr. F Benji Wolke on the Twin City Vulcans.
THE OSU SERIES: Notre Dame owns an 18-8-3 series edge over OSU (10-4-0 at home) but OSU has won three of the last four, including two late games at Notre Dame last season en route to a spot in the CCHA Tournament (5-4, 5-3) ... the Irish won last year's first game at OSU (10/25), a 3-0 win behind Matt Eisler's 47 saves, the most ever by an Irish goalie in a shutout effort ... Joe Dusbabek and Aniket Dhadphale scored in that game before Steve Noble's empty-netter ... OSU squared last year's series on Feb. 7, with Chad Power scoring OSU's first two goals and assisting on the third (by Hugo Boisvert) ... Ben Simon and Tim Harberts scored for the Irish but Pierre Dufour and Boisvert scored to ice the win (Brian Urick also scored for the Irish) ... the Irish went ahead 2-0 the next day (goals by Dusbabek, Andy Jurkowski) before OSU tied it on goals from Jarret Whidden and Power ... Ryan Root scored to put OSU back in front before Ben Nelsen tied the game with a second-period SHG ... Root covered the puck in the crease late in the second period but Dusbabek sent the penalty shot high and wide right ... Dufour scored the game-winner seven minutes into the third.
ND-OSU RECAP: The previous ND-OSU games this season have produced more shorthanded goals (two by each team) than power-play scores, as Notre Dame is 2-for-13 (.154) on the power play this season while OSU is 1-for-10 (.100) ... Notre Dame won 3-2 at OSU on Nov. 16, behind SHG's from Benoit Cotnoir (rebound slapshot) and Ben Simon (backhanded breakaway) and a PPG from Lyle Andrusiak (rebound scoop) ... the Irish stopped seven of eight OSU power plays ... Forrest Karr had 28 saves, turning away OSU's first 23 shots ... the teams combined for 33 penalties (17 by OSU, season-high 16 by ND) ... OSU scored two third-period goals in a span of less than two minutes, on Todd Compeau's rebound goal and Hugo Boisvert's power-play score ... OSU evened the series with a 5-3 home win on Jan. 25, as Eric Meloche broke a 3-3 tie with a breakaway SHG, two minutes into the third ... Meloche knocked in a rebound for the first goal of the game at 6:14 of the first before Jean-Francois Dufour lit the lamp 11 seconds later ... the Irish pulled to within 2-1 just before intermission on a four-on-four, when Cotnoir converted a blueline slapshot ... OSU went ahead 3-2 on Neal Rech's SHG, set up by Chris Richards' odd-man rush ... Notre Dame answered with Aniket Dhadphale's PPG through traffic and tied the score when John Dwyer redirected a shot from Mark Eaton ... OSU added an insurance goal midway through the third, when Vinnie Grant beat Matt Eisler with a one-timer.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Like Notre Dame (4-6-4), WMU has struggled at home (3-12-1) ... WMU is 1-8 in one-goal games, the Irish are 5-6 ... WMU ended its CCHA-record 18-game losing streak last Friday, topping FSU 4-2 ... WMU is 3-7-2 when scoring first (the Irish are 11-6-2) ... WMU has been outscored 106-66, averaging just 2.13 goals/gm (last in the CCHA) while Notre Dame owns a +12 goal differential (100-88) and is averaging 3.23 gpg ... Notre Dame's power play (.186) is nearly five points higher than WMU's (.138) ... WMU (11.16) is averaging nearly twice as many penalties/gm as the Irish (6.13), yielding nearly two more opponent power-play chances per game (5.90) than Notre Dame (4.13) ... Notre Dame's -12 penalty-kill ratio (7 SHG, 19 PPG all.) is considerably better than WMU's -28 (5/33) ... WMU has been outscored 46-28 in the third period (Notre Dame has been outscored 37-30) ... WMU has just two players with 20-plus points, compared to Notre Dame's seven ... WMU has twice as many seniors (6) as Notre Dame (3).
WMU NOTES: WMU (6-23-2, 5-17-1 CCHA) ended its CCHA-record losing streak at 18 games with a 4-2 win last week over FSU ... WMU is tied with BG for 10th in the CCHA, eight points out of the eighth and final playoff spot ... WMU returned 18 of 26 letterwinners from last year's team that went 14-18-5 and finished tied for fifth in the CCHA (10-12-5) ... junior RW Frank Novock (13-12/25) and senior D Steve Duke (1-19/20) lead WMU in scoring ... junior Matt Barnes has played in 26 of 31 games this season while logging 1,529 of 1,878 minutes (the third-most minutes played in the CCHA) ... Barnes owns a 3.02 GAA and .896 save pct. ... WMU's other CCHA wins have come vs. BG (3-0), FSU (4-2), at OSU (3-1), at BG (8-3), and LSSU (4-3/OT).
FRIEND OR FOE, II?: Several Notre Dame and WMU players are former teammates: ND soph. C Ben Simon and WMU jr. D Joe Corvo (U.S. silver-medal-winning team at '96-'97 World Juniors); ND jr. LW Aniket Dhadphale and WMU jr. G Matt Barnes (Stratford Cullitons); ND soph. D Nathan Borega and WMU soph. RW Caley Jones (Vernon Vipers); ND soph. RW John Dwyer and WMU soph. LW Matt Addesa and jr. D Geoff Collard (Dubuque Saints) ... ND soph. D Sean Molina and WMU's Addesa (Dubuque Saints) ... ND soph. D Sean Seyferth and WMU soph. LW Jeff Wojcik (Compuware Ambassadors) ... ND freshman D Ryan Clark and WMU fr. C Chad Kline (Lincoln Stars) ... ND fr. D Mark Eaton and WMU fr. C Mark Wilkinson (Waterloo Blackhawks).
THE WMU SERIES: WMU owns a 24-11-2 series edge over Notre Dame but the Irish are 3-1-1 vs. WMU over the past two seasons (including a 2-1 win at WMU and 4-2 home win last December) ... the teams played to a 3-3 tie at Notre Dame early last season, in a game where the Irish overcame three deficits and ended WMU's 10-game win streak against the Irish ... Brian Urick scored two third-period goals to lead the Irish while WMU's Matt Barnes had 40 saves (Matt Eisler made 36) ... the Irish then won at home over WMU late in the season (5-4), behind Neal Johnson's second goal of the season at 2:13 mark of OT ... the Irish took a 4-2 lead in the second, on goals by Joe Dusbabek and Tyson Fraser ... WMU's Joe Corvo tallied a PPG with just 0:26 left in the second and Frank Novock tied the game at 5:03 of the third ... WMU owned a 35-25 edge in shots but Eisler made 31 saves ... WMU returned the favor a day later, scoring three goals in the first 10 minutes and going 3-for-8 on the power play en route to a 6-1 home win.
ND-WMU RECAP: Notre Dame won 2-1 at WMU on Dec. 5, allowing a season-low 12 shots (one more than the Irish first-period total) ... that win ended a 12-game Irish losing streak at Lawson Arena ... Matt Van Arkel scored a 4-on-4 goal, knocking home a deflected Benoit Cotnoir shot at 4:56 of the first period ... 21 seconds later, Mark Eaton tipped the puck away from a WMU player to set up Dan Carlson's 4-on-4 breakaway goal ... WMU scored at 8:34 of the second period, when Brett Mills put a rebound shot past Forrest Karr ... the Irish allowed just two shots in the third ... Carlson scored an early SHG the next night to spark a 4-2 Irish win ... WMU tied the game five minutes later on a Mike Melas breakaway ... Notre Dame took the lead for good with two goals late in the first, as Brian Urick converted a breakaway an Benoit Cotnoir knocked home a slapshot from the right point ... WMU closed to 3-2 with 18 seconds left in the second, when Chuck Mindel banged home a rebound ... the Irish iced the win with an empty-netter from Steve Noble.
NOBLE MAN: Senior Steve Noble's clutch has included a goal and four assists over four games while filling in for Ben Simon as the first-line center (when Simon was at the World Juniors ... Noble is fourth on the team with 24 points, including 16 assists (second to Simon's 18)... 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 carries a 3.95 cumulative grade-point average and 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 ALL-ROOKIE PUSH: D Mark Eaton and LW Dan Carlson have emerged as two of the CCHA's top freshmen ... Eaton is fifth on the team in plus-minus (+7) and has 21 points, including 15 assists (all in CCHA play) ... Eaton has 11 points in the last seven games, including a goal and assist in the 7-1 win over FSU, the PPG that forced OT at Michigan and two goals and two assists in the 5-1 win at UAF ... Eaton's 20 points (5-15) in league games rank third among all CCHA freshmen--behind Michigan forward Mark Kosick and MSU forward Rustyn Dolyny-- and second among all defensemen, just behind Miami All-American Dan Boyle (10-11) ... Eaton's 15 assists in CCHA play are most among the league's defensemen and tied for ninth among all CCHA players, behind OSU's Hugo Boisvert (21), OSU's Chris Richards and Miami's Tim Leahy (19), Lake's Terry Marchant (18), Miami's Dustin Whitecotton (17), Notre Dame's Ben Simon and Michigan's Bill Muckalt and Bobby Hayes (16) ... Carlson is fourth on the team in plus-minus (+8) and has nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points (sixth on the team), including 14 points in his last 17 games ... Carlson had a goal and assist in the OT game at Michigan, a goal and two assists in the 5-1 win over Brown and two goals and two assists vs. WMU, including a game-winning goal (2-1) and GWA (4-2) ... he had an assist and scored the late game-tying goal vs. FSU (5-5), chipped in a goal and assist to the series-clinching win at UAF (5-1) and scored a SHG in the 5-4 overtime win at BG.
BLUELINE THREAT: Junior D Benoit Cotnoir's 23 points (8-15) rank third among all CCHA defensemen behind Miami's Dan Boyle (12-24) and FSU's Brett Colborne (6-22) ... his 15 power-play points (3-12) ranks fourth in the CCHA, behind Michigan's Bill Muckalt (11-14) and Mark Kosick (3-14) and MSU's Sean Berens (9-7) ... Cotnoir has six points (1-5) in the last seven games, including three assists in the 5-1 win at UAF ... he has 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.
SECOND-HALF SURGE: Junior RW Brian Urick had one goal in the first 13 games but has 13 goals in his last 18, including both Irish scores in the 3-2 loss to Wisconsin, two in the 5-1 win over Brown, one in the 2-2 tie with Miami and the OT game-winner at BG (5-4) ... Urick ranks third on the team with 26 points (14-12) and leads the squad with 130 shots ... Urick ranked among Notre Dame's scoring leaders the past two seasons--he shared for the team scoring lead last season (13-12)--and has 39 goals-39 assists in 101 career games ... Urick scored on 15.1 percent of his shots during his first two seasons and owns a .108 shooting pct. this season.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Junior Forrest Karr and senior Matt Eisler have formed a formidable goaltending duo this season ... Eisler, who owns a 2.89 GAA and .901 save pct., was named CCHA defensive player of the week, after making 63 saves and allowing 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 MSU, 33 in the 4-2 win over WMU ... his 2.89 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 .901 save pct. ranks behind only Mark Kronholm's .907 (1970-71) ... Eisler saved 53 of 55 shots on goals last week vs. BG (1-1, 25) and FSU (7-1, 28) ... his 39-save performance the week before at Michigan (in his 100th career game) moved him into third place on then Irish career saves list ... Eisler's 2,655 career saves trail only Dick Tomasoni (2,756, 1968-72) and '90 grad Lance Madson (3,519) in the Irish record book ... his 5,719 career minutes rank second behind Madson (6,901) ... Karr is 6-0-0 on the road and 0-2-1 at home and ranks 4th in the CCHA with a 2.60 GAA, plus an .886 save pct. ... Karr and Eisler have helped the Irish post a 2.84 team GAA and .896 save pct., both well on pace to set Irish team records.
BACK TOGETHER?: Sophomores Nathan Borega and Tyson Fraser skated together for 16 of 17 games before Fraser missed last week's games with back problems ... Borega and Fraser spent the bulk of their freshman season as a tandem ... in their first game back together this season, Fraser and Borega scored in the 4-2 loss to Lake Superior ... the 6-2, 225-pound Borega has just 15 penalties (0.52/gm) despite his physical style (six in last 21) ... Fraser has an assist in 13 games and his 13 assists are fifth on the team ... Fraser has just seven penalties (24 in 57 career games).
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 pct. of 72 shots ... Dhadphale's sophomore slump included just five goals on 109 shots (4.6 percent) ... this season, Dhadphale has surpassed his freshman and sophomore totals combined, with 20 scores through 31 games, the fourth-most goals in the CCHA behind Michigan's Bill Muckalt (26) and MSU's Sean Berens (23) and Mike York (21) ... Dhadphale has converted on 20.6 percent of his 97 shots (one goal per every five shots) after scoring just once per every 22 shots last season ... Dhadphale was named the CCHA player of the week after scoring the first goal in last Friday's 1-1 home tie with BG before scoring twice and adding two assists for a career-best four points in the 7-1 home win over FSU ... Dhadphale's nine PPGs are tied for second in the CCHA (Muckalt has 11) ... Dhadphale has scored the first goal in six games this season, also tied for second in the CCHA (behind York's seven) ... Dhadphale's 20 goals are the second-highest season total by an Irish in the last six seasons, trailing only Tim Harberts' 21 in 1994-95 ... his nine PPGs equal the third-most by an Irish player in the 1990s, trailing only Harberts (13, 1994-95) and Lou Zadra (11, 1991-92).
SIMON SAYS: Notre Dame sophomore C Ben Simon has a point in 21 of 27 games ... he leads the Irish and is tied for 12th in the CCHA with 29 points, including a season goal total (9) that is more than double his '96-'97 output (4), when he did not score a goal until the 15th game ... Simon's three PPGs equal his freshman year total while his three SHGs are more than Notre Dame's team total (2) for all of 1996-97.
WHO'S HOT: Dan Carlson (14 points in last 16 games), Benoit Cotnoir (11 in last 12), John Dwyer (8 in last 12), Mark Eaton (11 in last seven), Steve Noble (11 in last 12) and Brian Urick (10 goals in last 14).
DISCIPLINED D.: 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 31 games this season, the Irish again are the CCHA's least-penalized squad, totaling 190 penalties for an average of just 6.13 per game--while posting a 2.84 team GAA that would blow away the existing Irish record (3.40, in 1987-88) ... the Irish have allowed just 19 opponent PPGs, third-fewest in the CCHA behind MSU (14) and Lake Superior (16) ... the Irish have allowed just 4.13 opponent power-play chances per game (lowest in the CCHA) and 128 total opponents PP chances (MSU has the second fewest, at 146) ... Notre Dame has totaled four or fewer penalties in 12 games this season and has averaged just 5.06 penalties/gm over the past 17 games ... after Notre Dame, the CCHA's least-penalized teams this season are: MSU (8.23), Miami (8.29), FSU (8.62) and Michigan (9.50) ... the CCHA's most-penalized teams are WMU (11.16), MSU (8.23), UAF (10.53), Lake Superior (10.29), BG (10.03) and OSU (9.97) ... hard-hitting Irish sophomore D Nathan Borega has just 15 penalties this season (six in the last 19 games) and less than one per game in his career (46 in 64 games) ... other disciplined skaters: senior C Steve Noble (seven penalties in '97-'98, 23 in last 61), sophomore D Tyson Fraser (seven, 23 in 57 career gms), sophomore D Sean Molina (3, one in last 22), freshman D Ryan Clark (4, two in last 22) and freshman D Mark Eaton (11, 5 in last 23 gms) ... junior RW Brian Urick struggled with penalties his first two seasons (58 in 70 gms) but has just seven this season (one per every 4.1 gams).
THIRD PERIOD KEY: Third-period production has been crucial this season ... after dominating third-period scoring early this season, Notre Dame now is being outscored 37-30 in the final 20:00 ... the Irish have outscored the opposition 19-8 in the third period of their 14 wins ... in Notre Dame's 13 losses, the opposition has owned a 24-7 third-period edge ... prior to the three-goal, third-period outburst the forced OT at Michigan, Notre Dame had been outscored 31-13 in the third period of the previous 22 games ... the Irish opened with three wins thanks to an 8-0 third-period scoring edge but, in the fourth game, B.C. 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 (4-3/ot, 4-1), #2 MSU (6-1), OSU (3-2), W. Michigan (2-1), Wisconsin (4-2), UAF (4-2, 5-1) and BG (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 FSU (the Bulldogs won 4-3), failing to hold a 2-0 lead on Northeastern at the Mariucci Classic and losing in OT at Michigan (5-4) ... Notre Dame has turned in five 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 MSU, scoring three times in the final 20 minutes to win at UAF (5-1) and scoring three goals to force OT at Michigan ... Notre Dame has scored 61 goals away from home on 529 shots on goal, for an average of 8.7 shots per goal (11.5 shooting pct.) ... conversely, in its 14 home games, Notre Dame is 4-6-4 and has scored just 39 goals on 437 shots, for an average of 11.2 shots per goal (8.9 shooting pct.).
PENALTY-KILLING PLUS: Notre Dame's penalty-killing unit has scored one goal for every 2.7 it has allowed this season, totaling seven shorthanded goals while allowing only 19 opponent PPGs ... the seven SHGs 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 “-12” penalty-killing effort this season is tied for second-best in the CCHA, behind Lake Superior's -4 (12 SHG, 16 PPG allowed) and tied with MSU (2/14) ... the other CCHA teams break down as follows: OSU (-14), Michigan (-19), Miami (-21), WMU (-28), FSU (-29), BG (-28), NMU (-29) and UAF (-38).
SPECIAL IMPROVEMENT: Despite a power-play slip prior to the UAF series, Notre Dame has converted on 24 percent (11-of-46) of its power plays in the last nine games ... Notre Dame's season power-play (.186/31-for-167) is up considerably from last season (.127) and ranks fourth in the CCHA ... the Irish netted at least one PPG 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, including 15 in a two-game weekend series vs. then-#2 MSU ... the team's season penalty-killing now stands at .852 (109-for-128), fifth-best in the CCHA ... the Irish could challenge the team record for season penalty-killing pct., set by the 1969-70 team (.861) ... Miami (1st/4th), MSU (3rd/2nd) and Notre Dame are the only CCHA teams ranked among the top five for power play and penalty killing.
HOLD ON: Notre Dame is 9-2-1 when leading at the first intermission (losses to B.C. and Northeastern, tie to BG), after going just 4-5-0 last season when ahead after the first 20 minutes ... five of Notre Dame's 13 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 B.C., FSU, Lake Superior, Northeastern and UAF).
GO-TO-GROUP: Notre Dame has relied on several players for timely goals ... although junior LW Aniket Dhadphale (20 goals) and junior RW Brian Urick (14) have turned in 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 FSU ... the team's top seven scorers all have between 21-29 points, while six players have between 6-9 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 four GWGs and four other players have scored one game-winner (Dhadphale, senior C Steve Noble, freshman LW Dan Carlson and sophomore RW John Dwyer) ... after Simon's 29 points (9-20), Notre Dame's top goal-scoring threats have come from Urick (14-12), Dhadphale (20-7), Noble (8-16), Carlson (9-12), junior D Benoit Cotnoir (8-15) and Andrusiak (7-11) ... two defensemen have compiled high assist numbers: freshman Mark Eaton (6-15) and sophomore Tyson Fraser (1-13).
FEELING A DRAFT: Notre Dame matched B.C. with the most players selected in the '97 NHL draft (four): Ben Simon (5th rd, Chicago), Joe Dusbabek (7th, San Jose), Jay Kopischke (8th, L.A.) and Ryan Clark (9th, N.Y. Islanders) ... Notre Dame has seven former NHL draft picks (second to Michigan's nine in the CCHA), with the others being senior C Steve Noble (St. Louis), junior RW Brian Urick (Edmonton) and junior LW Aniket Dhadphale (San Jose).
IRISH SIGN CORNELIUS, INMAN: Notre Dame signed D Sam Cornelius (Edina, Minn.) and C David Inman (Toronto, Ont.) during the fall early signing period ... Cornelius, a former prep teammate of Notre Dame freshman LW Dan Carlson, should provide a boost to an Irish defense that currently includes two juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen ... a strong skater noted for his physical play and offensive ability, the 6-0, 190-pound lefthander scored the game-winning overtime goal in the state semi-finals as a junior for Edina HS vs. Hill-Murray HS ... Cornelius was named to the Minnesota all-state-tournament team and was invited to the USA Hockey select-17 camp ... Inman is known for 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 1996-97, earning rookie of the year and scholastic player of the year awards.
31-GAME CHECKUP: 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. (.516) that is nearly double that of last season (.271) ... the most significant offensive improvements have come in the areas of goals per game (up 0.60), shot margin (up +8.5/gm), power-play pct. (up 5.9%) and power-play goals per game (up 0.34) ... noteworthy improvements on the defensive end include the 85.2 pct. penalty-killing unit (up 3.9%), a 2.84 goals against avg. (0.89 better than last season), an 90.1 save pct. (up 1.9) and just 6.13 penalties per game (2.56 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 29-23 first-period scoring edge (the opponents outscored the Irish 39-23 in the first period last season) ... the Irish are 5-6 in one-goal games this season, after going 3-12 a year ago, and 9-2-1 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 37-30 in the final period and are just 12-5-2 when holding a second-intermission lead.