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    Fighting Irish

    Feb. 17, 1998

    Irish Head to Upper Peninsula for Two Key Games

    * Playoff picture to hinge on games at Northern Michigan, Lake Superior

    * Irish to face NMU for first time in 15 years, LSSU season series on the line

    * Game at NMU to provide homecoming for surging Dhadphale

    * Eaton's 22 CCHA points 3rd among freshmen, 1st among all defensemen

    Notre Dame (14-15-4, 9-12-4 CCHA) embarks on its final road trip of the regular season this week, heading to the Michigan upper peninsula for games at fifth-place Northern Michigan (Fri., Feb. 27) and sixth-place Lake Superior the next night ... the Irish are on the verge of clinging their first CCHA Tournament berth since 1995, as ninth-place Alaska Fairbanks is eight points back with five games to play ... Notre Dame is seventh in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings, two points behind Lake Superior and one ahead of Ferris State ... the ND-LSSU series still is up for grabs, with the Lakers holding a 1-0-1 edge and a +2 goal differential ... Notre Dame needs to beat LSSU by three-plus goals to claim the head-to-head tiebreaker ... should Notre Dame beat the Lakers by two goals, a potential tie between the teams would be broken based on record vs. the CCHA's top teams, in descending order ... both the Irish and Lakers have lost twice to first-place Michigan, with the Irish owning a win over second-place MSU (LSSU has two left with MSU) ... the UNM game will serve as a homecoming for Irish junior LW Aniket Dhadphale, a native of Marquette, Mich. whose 22 goals rank third in the CCHA while his 11 PPGs are tied for the national lead ... UNM returned to the CCHA this season, after playing the previous 13 seasons ... Friday's UNM-ND game will be the first between the teams in 15 years ... Notre Dame dropped a pair of 5-3 games last week, at home vs. Ohio State and at Western Michigan, with sophomore defensemen Tyson Fraser (back) and Nathan Borega (shoulder) missing the game due to injury (both are day-to-day) ... the WMU loss kept the Irish from their first CCHA season sweep since taking three from OSU in '94-'95.

    THE CCHA RACE: Five teams have clinched playoff spots: Michigan (19-4-1/39 points), MSU (16-4-4/36), OSU (15-10-1/31), Miami (13-8-4/30) and NMU (13-9-3/29)--with the last three team battling for the final two home-ice spots ... Notre Dame (9-12-4/22) could clinch this week, as the Irish are two points away from a higher finish than ninth-place UAF (6-17-2/14), one point away from a higher finish than WMU (6-18-1/13) and three points shy of finishing ahead of BG (5-16-3/13) ... FSU (9-12-3/21) stands eighth, seven points ahead of UAF (which is at LSSU and NMU this week before closing with three home games vs. WMU) ... Lake Superior's remaining schedule is slightly tougher than Notre Dame's (both have three home games left, two away) ... 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 ... three of Notre Dame's remaining games are vs. a mid-pack team (UNM) 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, NMU has home dates with UAF and MSU ... FSU's tough schedule includes games at Michigan and MSU, two home games with OSU and home dates with Miami and BG.

    ICE BREAKERS: The Irish had played to OT for five straight weeks before last week ... Notre Dame (4th/3rd) and MSU (2nd/2nd) are the only CCHA teams ranked among the top four in power play and penalty killing ... the Irish rank 17th in the nation for scoring defense (2.97/gm) and penalty killing (85.4%) ... Notre Dame is 10-8-0 away from home (3.6 gls/gm), 4-7-4 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 (6.09/gm) for the second straight season, allowing a CCHA-low 4.15 opponent power-play chances/gm ... the Irish are on pace to set records for GAA (2.97) and save pct. (.892) while the team's penalty killing (.854) 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 2.97 goals/gm (fifth in CCHA) but is eighth in scoring (3.21 gpg) ... Notre Dame's power-play has 33 goals while allowing two opponent shorthanded goals (tied for fewest in the CCHA), for a "+31" power play ratio that ranks behind only Michigan (+38) and MSU (+34) ... the Irish have the third-best penalty-killing ratio (-13, 20 PPGs all./7 SHG scored), behind LSSU's "-4" (16/12) and MSU (14/2) ... Notre Dame has been outscored 29-10 in the third period of its losses.

    AROUND THE HORN: CCHA rookie of the year candidate Mark Eaton has 13 points in the last nine games ... his 22 points (6-16) in CCHA games rank third among all freshmen and are tied for first among all defensemen ... his linemate, junior Benoit Cotnoir, is fourth among CCHA defensemen for conference scoring (7-13) ... Cotnoir's 17 overall power-play points (3-14) ranks fifth among all CCHA players, first among defensemen ... senior C Steve Noble has played in 140 of 141 career games and 67 straight ... senior G Matt Eisler needs 72 saves to move into second on the Irish career list and is 224 minutes shy of the 6,000-minute plateau ... top scorers: soph. C Ben Simon (9-23), jr. LW Aniket Dhadphale (22-9), jr. RW Brian Urick (14-12), Cotnoir (8-17), Noble (8-16), Eaton (7-16) and fr. LW Dan Carlson (9-12) ... Dhadphale is the CCHA's third-leading goal scorer and tied for the national lead with 11 PPGs ... eight of Notre Dame's 11 regular veterans already have posted career highs in scoring: Dhadphale, Noble, Simon, Cotnoir, senior C Lyle Andrusiak (8-12), soph. RW John Dwyer (5-4), soph. D Tyson Fraser (1-13) and soph. D Sean Molina (0-6) ... Urick is one point shy of equaling his 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 Juniors in Finland (Simon had 1 G, 3 A).

    KEYS TO NMU GAME: NMU has performed better in clutch situations and when holding leads, as the Wildcats are 6-3 in one-goal games, 3-1-4 in OT, 10-3-2 when scoring first and 8-1-2 when ahead at the second intermission (Notre Dame is 5-6, 2-2-4, 11-6-2 and 12-5-2 in those situations) ... the Irish have a special teams edge, with an 18.5 pct. power play and 85.4% penalty-killing (NMU is 12.3, 80.7) ... Notre Dame is averaging more than four fewer penalties per game than NMU (6.09-10.30), resulting in just 4.15 opponent power-play chances per game (to NMU's 6.23) and just 0.61 opponent PPGs per game (20 total), half that of NMU's average (1.20, 36) ... Notre Dame is +5 in first-period scoring (to UNM's -9) but the Wildcats are better in the third (+4, to Notre Dame's -9) ... both teams have 10 players with five-plus goals, the Irish have eight with 20-plus points (to UNM's four) and the Wildcats have 14 with 10-plus points (to ND's 10) ... both teams have just three seniors and a high number of freshmen (UNM 10, ND 8).

    SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: NMU (15-11-4, 13-9-3 CCHA) is coming off a split at BG (3-2/OT) and Michigan (2-4) ... NMU opened CCHA play with a record of 6-1-1 and has remained in the race for home ice in the CCHA Tournament ... NMU's top scorers this season are junior C Buddy Smith (7-18), sophomore LW Roger Trudeau (11-10), sophomore RW J.P. Vigier (10-11) and freshman LW Frad Mattersdorfer (10-10) ... sophomore Duane Hoey ranks sixth among CCHA regular goaltenders with a 2.94 season GAA, plus an .880 save pct. ... Hoey has started 25 of 30 games in the nets for NMU this season ... NMU's special teams have been anything but special this season, as the Wildcats rank last in the CCHA for power play (.123) and ninth in penalty killing (.807) ... NMU can put some goals on the board, ranking fourth in e CCHA for scoring (3.46 goals/gm) while owning the sixth-best team GAA (3.17) ... NMU is 6-3 in one-goal games, 3-1-4 in OT, 8-1-2 when holding a second-intermission lead and 10-3-2 when scoring first ... NMU was a member of the CCHA from 1977-1984 before switching over to the WCHA ... NMU won the NCAA title in 1990-91 (38-5-4), beating Boston University 8-7 in triple OT, and was the NCAA runner-up in 1979-80 (34-6-1), losing to North Dakota 5-2 ... NMU's other CCHA wins: LSSU (5-3), @WMU (3-0, 4-2), Michigan (1-0), UAF (5-4/OT, 7-3), @Miami (3-2), BG (6-5), Miami (5-3), WMU (5-2), BG (8-2) and @FSU (5-3) ... other CCHA losses: Michigan (3-5), OSU (1-5, 4-5), @Miami (2-5), FSU (2-5), @MSU (1-6), OSU (0-2) and @FSU (2-3/OT) ... CCHA ties: LSSU (2-2), @LSSU (2-2), @MSU (1-1).

    FRIEND OR FOE?: Several Notre Dame and NMU players are former teammates: ND sr. C Steve Noble and NMU sr. LW John Bossio (Stratford Cullitons); ND jr. LW Aniket Dhadphale and NMU jr. F Rich Metro, soph. LW Roger Trudeau, fr. G Dan Ragusett and fr. C Ryan Riipi (Marquette Electricians); ND jr. C Craig Hagkull and NMU jr. C Brad Frattorolli (Des Moines Buccaneers); ND fr. D Mark Eaton and NMU fr. D Doug Schmidt (Waterloo Blackhawks); ND fr. RW Matt Van Arkel and NMU fr. D Jeff White (Milton Merchants).

    THE NMU SERIES: UNM has won all six of its games against Notre Dame, with the previous games in the series coming early in 1982-83, a pair of UNM wins at Notre Dame (5-2, 4-3) ... the Irish and Wildcats met four times during the senior season of current Irish head coach Dave Poulin (1981-82), with UNM winning twice at Notre Dame early in the season (3-2, 4-3) before closing out the sweep at home in early December (3-2, 9-8).

    KEYS TO THE LSSU GAME: LSSU has lived by its strong penalty killing this season, owning a CCHA-best 91.4 percent penalty kill (96.2/54-for-56 since Jan. 3), while Notre Dame has converted on 22 percent of its power plays over the last 11 games (13-for-58) and has surged to 4th in the CCHA with an 18.5 percent season power play (to LSSU's 14.0) ... the teams met earlier this season on Thanksgiving weekend, when LSSU held the Irish to a 1-for-17/.059 power play (LSSU was 3-for-12/.250) ... Notre Dame has enjoyed more success than LSSU when holding leads the season (the Irish are 11-6-2 when scoring first, 12-5-2 when ahead at second intermission while the Lakers are 7-5-2 and 7-4-2 in those instances) ... Notre Dame is averaging nearly five more shots per game than LSSU (31.2-26.3) and nearly five fewer penalties per game than the Lakers (6.13 to 10.83) ... Notre Dame has relied on more weapons this season, as eight Irish players have 20-plus points (compared to three for LSSU) ... LSSU is the more veteran team, having seven seniors to Notre Dame's three.

    LAKERS NOTES: Lake Superior (13-13-4, 10-11-4) is sixth in the CCHA, after a split at FSU (2-4, 3-2) ... LSSU returns 17 players from its 1996-97 team that finished 19-14-5 overall and fourth in the CCHA ... the Lakers lost a pair of valuable seniors-to-be:--F Bates Battaglia (12 G, 27 A in '96-'97) and G John Grahame (3.66, .876)--to professional hockey ... LSSU's top returning scorers are senior LW Joe Blaznek (22-24) and junior RW Jason Sessa (22-22) ... senior C Terry Marchant is tied for fifth in the CCHA with 37 points (16-12), followed by Sessa (16-11) and Blaznek (12-10) ... freshman Rob Galatiuk has played 26 of 30 games in net for NMU and ranks 7th among CCHA regular goaltenders with a 2.99 GAA, plus an .895 save pct. ... the Lakers rank eighth in the CCHA for power-play pct. (.140) but lead the conference and rank second nationally in penalty killing (.914) ... LSSU has nearly as many SHGs (12) as opponent PPGs allowed (16), the best such ratio in the CCHA (-4) ... LSSU ranks ninth in scoring (3.13 goals/gm), seventh in goals allowed/gm (3.27) ... the Lakers are 5-6 in one-goal games, 1-2-4 in OT, 7-4-2 when leading at the second intermission and 7-5-2 when scoring the first goal ... LSSU's other CCHA wins: UAF (8-2), @WMU (4-1), Miami (4-3/OT), OSU (4-3, 4-2), BG (6-2), WMU (4-3) and @BG (1-0) ... other CCHA losses: FSU (1-6), @NMU (3-5), UAF (2-6), @WMU (3-4), Michigan (0-7), @OSU (0-7), Miami (3-4), @MSU (3-4), @BG (3-4) and Michigan (1-4) ... other CCHA ties: @NMU (2-2), NMU (2-2), @Miami (3-3).

    FRIEND OR FOE, II?: Several Notre Dame and Lake Superior players are former teammates: ND soph. D Nathan Borega and LSSU soph. D Blain Macauley and soph. RW Jeff Cheeseman (Vernon Vipers); ND soph. C Ben Simon, LSSU jr. RW Jason Sessa and Boston College's Jeff Farkas were linemates on the U.S. silver-medal-winning team at the 1996-97 World Junior Championship; ND fr. LW chad Chipchase played summer-league hockey with LSSU fr. D Jeff McLean; ND fr. D Mark Eaton played youth hockey with Sessa in their native New York.

    THE LSSU SERIES: Lake Superior owns a 16-5-1 series edge vs. Notre Dame, including 6-0-1 in the last seven after a 4-2 win and 3-3 tie at Notre Dame last Nov. 28-29 ... LSSU held Notre Dame to 1-for-17 on the power play earlier this season (LSSU was 3-for-12) ... LSSU won 4-3 at Notre Dame last season before posting two home wins over the Irish (6-3, 4-0) ... in last year's first meeting, the Lakers took command with three goals in the second, from Mike Peron, Terry Marchant and Bates Battaglia ... the Irish responded with goals in a span of 1:35 from Brian Urick and Joe Dusbabek ... Jason Sessa upped LSSU's lead in the third before Benoit Cotnoir ended the scoring with a power-play goal ... in last year's first game in Sault Ste. Marie, the Lakers surged past the Irish with three goals in the final six minutes, from Mitch Lane, Joe Blaznek and Battaglia ... Notre Dame led 1-0 after a first-period Sean Seyferth goal and twice tied the game, on goals by Steve Noble and Ben Nelsen ... LSSU's first three goals came from Tobin Praznik, Blaznek and Sessa ... LSSU took the series finale behind John Grahame's 22-save shutout ... Bryan Fuss scored a SHG late in the first and Blaznek scored early in the second, followed by goals from Darcy George and Mike Kusculain in a 52-second span.

    RECAP (Nov. 28-29; LSSU 4 ND 2, LSSU 3 ND 3): Notre Dame jumped ahead in the second period of the opener, behind goals from Tyson Fraser (power play) and Nathan Borega ... LSSU responded with a Mike Vigilante goal and tied the game 32 seconds into the third, on Joe Blaznek's PPG, before going ahead on Terry Marchant's goal and icing the win on Tobin Praznek's goal at 17:16 ... the teams combined for 56 penalty minutes ... LSSU forced OT the next night on Jason Sessa's PPG with 1:28 left ... LSSU jumped ahead in the first, on Marchant's PPG, and went ahead 2-0 in the second on Sessa's first goal ... Dhadphale struck late in the second and six minutes into the third before Brian Urick tipped in a Benoit Cotnoir shot with 10 minutes to play ... Dhadphale and Mark Eaton had OT shots that clanged off the pipe while Forrest Karr robbed Marchant of an OT goal.

    NOBLE MAN: Senior Steve Noble's clutch play 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 fifth on the team with 24 points, including 16 assists (third on the team)... 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 GPA 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.) ... Noble has played in 67 straight games and 140 of 141 in his career, becoming the 19th player in Irish hockey history to appear in 140-plus games ... by playing in each of Notre Dame's remaining regular season games, Noble would become the ninth Irish player to appear in 145-plus career games, joining John Schmidt (152, '82), Jack Brownschidle (150, '77), Greg Meredith (149, '80), Bill Rothstein (148, '82), Jeff Logan (147, '82), Jeff Brownschidle (146, '81), Clark Hamilton (145, '77) and Brett Bruininks (145, '96) ... Jack Brownschidle is the only player in Irish history to play 140-plus games without ever missing a game while Noble could join Schmidt (152/153) as the only players with 140-plus games to have missed just one career game.

    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 fourth on the team in plus-minus (+6) and has 23 points, including 17 assists (all in CCHA play) ... Eaton has 13 points in the last nine 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 22 points (6-16) in league games rank third among all CCHA freshmen--behind Michigan forward Mark Kosick and MSU forward Rustyn Dolyny-- and are tied for firth among all CCHA defensemen, with Miami All-American Dan Boyle (11-11) and FSU's Brett Colborne (6-16) ... Eaton's 16 assists in CCHA play are most among the league's defensemen and tied for 11th among all CCHA players ... Carlson is fifth on the team in plus-minus (+5) and has nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points (seventh on the team) ... 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 GWG (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 OT win at BG.

    BLUELINE THREAT: Junior D Benoit Cotnoir's 25 points (8-17) rank third among all CCHA defensemen behind Miami's Dan Boyle (13-24) and FSU's Brett Colborne (6-24) ... his 17 power-play points (3-14) ranks fifth in the CCHA, behind Michigan's Bill Muckalt (11-14) and Mark Kosick (3-14), MSU's Sean Berens (9-7) and UAF's Jeff Trembecky (4-12) ... Cotnoir has eight points (1-7) in the last nine games, including three assists in the 5-1 win at UAF ... he has 59 career points (19 G, 40 A) from the blue line, with 65 percent (5-21) of his 40 points during the past two seasons coming on the power play.

    WHO'S HOT?: Junior D Benoit Cotnoir (13 points in last 14 games), sophomore RW John Dwyer (9 in last 13), freshman D Mark Eaton (13 in last 9), junior LW Aniket Dhadphale (9 in last 4), sophomore C Ben Simon (5-game point streak/2G-6A).

    WHO'S DUE?: Several Notre Dame players will be looking to get back on track this week ... most notably, the first line of freshman Dan Carlson, senior Steve Noble and junior Brian Urick all were held without a point last week (they have skated together for the past four games ... Noble has just two goals in the last 10 games (22 shots) while Urick has only one goal in the last four games ... Carlson has not recorded a point in four games while his goal and assist at Michigan on Jan. 31 are his only points in the last seven 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 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 22 scores through 33 games, third-most in the CCHA behind Michigan's Bill Muckalt (28) and MSU's Sean Berens (26) ... Dhadphale has converted on 21.4 percent of his 103 shots (one goal per every 4.7 shots) after scoring just once per every 22 shots last season ... Dhadphale was CCHA player of the week after scoring the first goal in the Jan . 24 home tie with BG (1-1) before scoring twice and adding two assists for a career-best four points in the 7-1 home win over FSU ... Dhadphale's 11 PPGs are tied with Berens for first in the nation ... Dhadphale's 22 goals are the most by an Irish player in the last six seasons, since Lou Zadra scored 24 in 1991-92 ... his 11 PPGs equal the second-most by an Irish player in the 1990s, trailing only Tim Harberts' 13 in 1994-95.

    SIMON SAYS: Notre Dame sophomore C Ben Simon has a point in 23 of 29 games ... he leads the Irish and is tied for 12th in the CCHA with 32 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.

    simon
    Ben Simon.

    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) ... the Irish again are the CCHA's least-penalized squad, totaling 201 penalties for an average of just 6.09 per game--while posting a 2.97 team GAA that would blow away the existing Irish record (3.40, in 1987-88) ... the Irish have allowed just 20 opponent PPGs, third-fewest in the CCHA behind MSU (14) and Lake Superior (16) ... the Irish have allowed just 4.15 opponent power-play chances per game (lowest in the CCHA) and 137 total opponents PP chances (MSU has the second fewest, at 154) ... Notre Dame has totaled four or fewer penalties in 13 games this season and has averaged just 5.11 penalties/gm over the past 19 games ... after Notre Dame, the CCHA's least-penalized teams this season are: Miami (8.10), MSU (8.18), FSU (8.61) and Michigan (9.50) ... the CCHA's most-penalized teams are WMU (10.94), Lake Superior (10.83), UAF (10.53), NMU (10.30), OSU (9.81) and BG (9.78) ... 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 63), sophomore D Tyson Fraser (seven, 23 in 57 career gms), sophomore D Sean Molina (3, one in last 24), freshman D Ryan Clark (7) and freshman D Mark Eaton (13) ... junior RW Brian Urick struggled with penalties his first two seasons (58 in 70 gms) but has just eight this season (one per every 4.1 gams).

    DOUBLE TROUBLE: Junior Forrest Karr and senior Matt Eisler have formed a formidable goaltending duo this season ... Eisler, who owns a 2.99 GAA and .898 save pct., was CCHA player of the week after making 63 saves and allowing four goals in the sweep at St. Cloud 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 2.99 GAA ranks third in Irish history--behind John Barry's 2.00 in '68-69 and Chris Cathcart's 2.83 in '70-71--while his .898 save pct. ranks behind Mark Kronholm's .907 ('70-71) and John Peterson's .899 ('76-77) ... Eisler saved 49 of 51 shots two weeks week ago vs. BG (1-1, 25) and FSU (7-1, 24) ... 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 2,684 career saves trail only Dick Tomasoni (2,756, 1968-72) and '90 grad Lance Madson (3,519) in the Irish record book ... his 5,776 career minutes rank second behind Madson (6,901) ... Karr is 6-1-0 on the road and 0-2-1 at home and ranks 6th in the CCHA with a 2.90 GAA, plus an .875 save pct. ... Karr and Eisler have helped the Irish post a 2.97 team GAA and .892 save pct., both on pace to set Irish records.

    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 42-33 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 15 losses, the opposition has owned a 29-10 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 ... Northeastern scored three goals in a five-minute stretch during the final period to complete a 4-2 comeback over the Irish while Miami used two third-period goals for a 3-1 win over the Irish and OSU 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 10-8-0 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 OT 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 64 goals away from home on 558 shots on goal, for an average of 8.7 shots per goal (11.5 shooting pct.) ... conversely, in its 15 home games, Notre Dame is 4-7-4 and has scored just 42 goals on 471 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 2.9 it has allowed this season, totaling seven shorthanded goals while allowing only 20 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 "-13" penalty-killing effort this season is third-best in the CCHA, behind Lake Superior's -4 (12 SHG, 16 PPG allowed) and MSU's -12 (2/14) ... the other CCHA teams break down as follows: OSU (-18), Michigan (-20), Miami (-25), BG (-28), NMU (-29), FSU (-30), WMU (-31) and UAF (-38).

    SPECIAL IMPROVEMENT: Despite a power-play slip prior to the UAF series, Notre Dame has converted on 22.4 percent (13-of-58) of its power plays in the last 11 games ... Notre Dame's season power-play (.185/31-for-178) 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 .854 (117-for-137), third-best in the CCHA ... the Irish could challenge the team record for season penalty-killing pct., set by the 1969-70 team (.861) ... MSU (2nd/3rd) and Notre Dame are the only CCHA teams ranked among the top four 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 (22 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 3rd-9th leading scorers all have between 20-26 points, while six players have between 7-9 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 32 points (9-23) and Dhadphale's 31 (22-9), Notre Dame's offense has come from Urick (14-12), Noble (8-16), Carlson (9-12), junior D Benoit Cotnoir (8-17) and Andrusiak (8-12) ... two defensemen have compiled high assist numbers: freshman Mark Eaton (7-16) 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.

    1997-98 Schedule

    October
        10  WESTERN ONTARIO W, 5-1
        17  at St. Cloud State  W, 4-3 (OT)
        18  at St. Cloud State  W, 4-1      
        24  BOSTON COLLEGE  L, 2-3
        31  *#2 MICHIGAN STATE^ L, 1-5
    November
        1   *at #2 Michigan State   W, 6-1      
        7   *BOWLING GREEN^ W, 2-1      
        8   *at Michigan State  L, 1-3
        15  *at #5 Miami University L, 4-5      
        16  *vs. Ohio State#    W, 3-2      
        20  *FERRIS STATE   T, 5-5
        22  *at Ferris State    L, 3-4      
        28  *LAKE SUPERIOR  L, 2-4      
        29  *LAKE SUPERIOR  T, 3-3 
         
    December
        5   *at Western Michigan    W, 2-1      
        6   *WESTERN MICHIGAN   W, 4-2      
        10  at Wisconsin    W, 4-2      
        12  WISCONSIN (WHME-TV) L, 2-3
        Mariuccci Classic (at Univ. of Minnesota)       
        27      vs. Northeastern    L, 2-4      
        28  vs. Brown   W, 5-1  
    January
        2   * #4 MIAMI UNIVERSITY   L, 1-3      
        3   * #4 MIAMI UNIVERSITY   T, 2-2      
        8   *at Alaska-Fairbanks    W, 4-2
        9   *at Alaska-Fairbanks    L, 2-3 (OT)     
        10  *at Alaska-Fairbanks    W, 5-1      
        24  *at Bowling Green   W, 5-4 (OT) 
        25  *vs. Ohio State#    L, 3-5      
        30  * #7 MICHIGAN   L, 2-7  
        30      * #7 at Michigan    L, 4-5 (OT)         
    February
        6   *BOWLING GREEN^ T, 1-1
        7   *FERRIS STATE   W, 7-1
        13      *OHIO STATE L, 3-5      
        14  *at Western Michigan^   L, 3-5  
        20      *at Northern Michigan   7:00 p.m.
        21  *at Lake Superior   7:00 p.m.
        27  *NORTHERN MICHIGAN  7:00 p.m.
        28  *NORTHERN MICHIGAN  7:00 p.m.
    March
        7   *MICHIGAN   7:00 p.m.
    13-15   CCHA Quarterfinals  TBA         (at home sites, best 2-of-3)    
        19  CCHA Semifinals 5:00/8:30 p.m.          (Joe Louis Arena)
        21  CCHA Championship   7:30 p.m.
            (Joe Louis Arena)
    * = Central Collegiate Hockey Assoc. game
    # = at Ohio Expo Center (Columbus, OH)
    ^ = CCHA/FoxNet Game of the Week
    

    Central Collegiate Hockey Association Standings

    TEAM (overall record)               W   L   T   PTS GF  GA  PEN Power Play  Penalty-Kill.
        1.  Michigan (25-6-1)           19  4   1   39  126 73  298  (3)  20.2%   (6) 83.4%       
        2.  Michigan State (24-4-5)     16  4   4   36  116 54  270  (2)  21.8%   (2) 90.9%           
        3.  Ohio State (18-11-2)        15  10  1   31  107 84  304  (7)  15.9%   (4) 85.0%
        4.  Miami University (18-8-4)   13  8   4   30  114 86  243  (1)  23.0%   (5) 83.8%
        5.  No. Michigan (15-11-4)      13  9   3   29  104 95  309  (11) 12.3%   (9) 80.7%
        6.  Lake Superior (13-13-4)     10  11  4   24  94  98  325  (8)  14.0%   (1) 91.4%
        7.  Notre Dame (14-15-4)        9   12  4   22  106 98  201  (4)  18.5%   (3) 85.4%
        8.  Ferris State (12-16-3)      9   12  3   21  103 113 267  (5)  17.2%   (10) 79.4%  
        9.  Alaska Fairbanks (9-18-3)   6   17  2   14  99  136 301  (6)  17.2%   (11) 76.3%      
        10. Bowling Green (7-22-3)      5   16  3   13  83  125 313  (9)  13.7%   (7) 83.2%
            Western Michigan (7-24-2)   6   18  1   13  73  113 361  (10) 13.1%   (8) 81.3%  
    

    US College Hockey Online Coaches Poll (2/16)

        1.  North Dakota (29; 23-4-1)   299
        2.  Michigan State (22-4-5)     242
        3.  New Hampshire (21-5-1)      226     
        4.  Boston University (21-5-2)  214
        5.  Michigan (1;  24-6-1)       205
        6.  Yale (19-4-0)               147
        7.  St. Cloud State (18-8-2)     84
        8.  Boston College (19-8-4)      81
        9.  Miami (18-8-4)               69      
        10. Wisconsin (20-9-1)           61
    Others receiving votes: Clarkson (7),  Colgate (6), Ohio State (6), Minnesota (3).
    

    NOTRE DAME HOCKEY - making strides

    (all improvements indicated by "+", italics = area of non-improvement)
                                1996-97         1997-98         Change
    Wins                        9-25-1          14-15-4         +5
    Winning pct.                27.1%           48.5%           +21.4%
    One-goal games              15 (3-12/.200)  11 (5-6/.455)   +.255
    Goals per game              2.63            3.13            +0.50
    Shots per game              27.2            31.2            +4.0
    Shooting pct.               9.7%            10.3%           +0.6%
    Opponent shots/gm           31.8            27.4            +4.4
    Shot margin                 -4.6            +3.8            +8.4
    Power-play  pct.            12.7%           18.5%           +5.8%
    Power-play goals/gm         0.66 (23)       1.00 (33)       +0.34
    Shorthanded goals/gm        0.06 (2)        0.21 (7)        +0.15   
    Penalties per game          8.69            6.09            +2.60
    Penalty-killing pct.        81.3%           85.4%           +4.1%
    Goals-against-avg.          3.73            2.97            +0.76
    Save pct.                   88.2%           89.2%           +1.0%
    Goal margin                 -1.11           0.24            +1.35
    S'handed goals allowed/gm   0.23 (7)        0.06 (2)        +0.17
    1st period goals/gm         0.66 (23)       0.91 (30)       +0.25
    1st period goal margin      -0.46 (23-39)   +0.15 (30-25)   +0.61
    3rd period goals/gm         0.94 (33)       1.00 (33)       +0.06
    3rd period goal margin      -0.26 (33-42)   -0.27 (33-42)   -0.01
    Ahead at 1st intermission   4-5-0 (.444)    9-2-1 (.792)    +.348
    Ahead at 2nd intermission   6-2-0 (.750)    12-5-2 (.684)   -.066
    

    33-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. (.485) that is nearly double that of last season (.271) ... the most significant offensive improvements have come in the areas of goals per game (up 0.50), shot margin (up +8.4/gm), power-play pct. (up 5.8%) and power-play goals per game (up 0.34) ... noteworthy defensive improvements include the 85.4 pct. penalty-killing unit (up 4.1%), a 2.97 GAA (0.76 better than last season), an 89.2 save pct. (up 1.0) and just 6.09 penalties per game (2.60 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 30-25 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 42-33 in the final period and are just 12-5-2 when holding a second-intermission lead.

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