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    Fighting Irish

    Feb. 24, 1998

    Irish Clinch Playoff Spot, Home for NMU Series

    • Notre Dame maintains hopes of moving up in CCHA standings
    • Wildcats in three-way battle for final two home-ice playoff spots
    • Freshman Mark Eaton scores twice at NMU, has 15 points in last 11 games
    • Eisler nears second place on Irish career saves list and 6,000-minute mark

    Notre Dame (15-16-4, 10-13-4 CCHA) remains in contention for sixth or seventh place in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association rankings this week, clinching its first berth in the eight-team CCHA Tournament since 1995 with last week’s split at Northern Michigan (4-3) and Lake Superior (1-2/OT) ... the Irish this week will play host to a NMU team that is in a three-way battle with Ohio State and Miami for the final two home-ice spots in the CCHAs ... Notre Dame---currently in eighth place, one point behind Ferris State and four behind LSSU--likely will travel to Michigan State (18-4-4) or Michigan (19-6-1) in the first round of the CCHAs (best 2-of-3), to be played March 13-15 (MSU and Michigan have clinched the top two spots, with order to-be-determined) ... Notre Dame holds the head-to-head tiebreaker on FSU (11-12-3) while LSSU (12-11-4) has the tiebreaker on the Irish ... should the Irish overtake FSU and LSSU, Notre Dame would open the CCHAs at OSU, NMU or Miami ... Notre Dame junior LW Aniket Dhadphale hails from Marquette, Mich. (the home of UNM) .... his 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 in the WCHA ... last week’s UNM-ND game was the first between the teams in 15 years ... sophomore defensemen Tyson Fraser (back) has missed the last six games while his linemate and classmate Nathan Borega (shoulder) has missed four straight.

    THE CCHA RACE: MSU (18-4-4) and Michigan (19-6-1) will finish in the top two spots (order to-be-determined) ... MSU holds the tiebreaker, winning all three games vs. Michigan this season ... both teams host LSSU and FSU this week, with MSU finishing at LSSU and NMU while Michigan will travel next week to BG and ND ... three teams are in a battle for the final two home-ice spots: OSU (15-10-1), NMU (14-10-3) and Miami (13-10-4) ... OSU hosts Miami and plays at BG this week before finishing with two games next week at FSU ... Miami also has home and away games left with BG.

    Central Collegiate Hockey Association Standings
    TEAM (overall record)           W   L    T   PTS   GF    GA   PEN   Power Play   Penalty-Kill.
    1.  Michigan State (26-4-5)    18   4    4   40   125    56   277   (1) 22.9%    (2) 90.6%
    2.  Michigan (25-8-1)          19   6    1   39   128    82   309   (3) 20.1%    (7) 82.0%
    3.  Ohio State (18-11-2)       15   10   1   31   107    84   304   (7) 15.9%    (4) 85.0%
        No. Michigan (16-12-4)     14   10   3   31   110   100   329   (11) 12.2%   (9) 80.8%
    5.  Miami University (18-10-4) 13   10   4   30   117    92   252   (2) 22.1%    (5) 84.0%
    6.  Lake Superior (15-13-4)    12   11   4   28    98   100   339   (8) 14.1%    (1) 91.3%
    7.  Ferris State (14-16-3)     11   12   3   25   110   116   276   (5) 17.7%    (10) 80.2%  
    8.  Notre Dame (15-16-4)       10   13   4   24   111   103   207   (4) 19.1%    (3) 85.7%
    9.  Western Michigan (9-24-2)   8   18   1   17    81   116   379   (9) 13.7%    (8) 81.5%  
    10. Alaska Fairbanks (9-20-3)   6   19   2   14   101   141   343   (6) 16.1%    (11) 76.6%
    11. Bowling Green (7-24-3)      5   18   3   13    86   134   328   (10) 13.6%   (7) 82.1%
    

    ICE BREAKERS: The Irish had played to OT in six of their last seven weekends (1-3-2) ... Notre Dame (4th/3rd) and MSU (1st/2nd) are the only CCHA teams ranked among the top four in overall power play and penalty killing (the Irish have surged to second in CCHA games power-play, at 18.8%) ... the Irish rank 14th in the nation for scoring defense (2.94/gm), 16th in penalty killing (85.7%) and 19th in power play (19.1) ... Notre Dame is 11-9-0 away from home (3.5 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 (5.91/gm) for the second straight season, allowing a CCHA-low 4.00 opponent power-play chances/gm ... the Irish are on pace to set records for GAA (2.94) and save pct. (.893) while the team’s penalty killing (.857) 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 2.94 goals/gm (fifth in CCHA) but is seventh in scoring (3.17 gpg) ... Notre Dame’s power-play has 36 goals--third-most in the CCHA--while allowing two opponent shorthanded goals (tied for fewest in the CCHA), for a “+34” power play ratio that ranks behind only Michigan (+39) and MSU (+38) ... the Irish have the third-best penalty-killing ratio (-13, 20 PPGs all./7 SHG scored), behind LSSU’s “-5” (17/12) and MSU’s -13 (15/2) ... Notre Dame has been outscored 29-10 in the third period of its losses ... 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).

    AROUND THE HORN: CCHA rookie of the year candidate Mark Eaton has 15 pts in the last 11 games ... his 24 pts (8-16) in CCHA games are tied for 15th among all CCHA players, tied for third among all freshmen and tied for first among all defensemen ... his linemate, junior Benoit Cotnoir, is fourth among CCHA defensemen for conference scoring (7-14) ... Cotnoir’s 17 overall power-play points (3-14) ranks fourth among all CCHA players, first among defensemen ... senior C Steve Noble has played in 142 of 143 career games and 69 straight ... senior G Matt Eisler needs 26 saves to move into second on the Irish career list and is 102 minutes shy of the 6,000-minute plateau ... top scorers: soph. C Ben Simon (9-24), jr. LW Aniket Dhadphale (22-9), jr. RW Brian Urick (14-13), Cotnoir (8-18), Eaton (9-16), Noble (8-16), and fr. LW Dan Carlson (10-13) ... Dhadphale is the CCHA’s fourth-leading goal scorer and ranks third in the nation with 11 PPGs ... nine of Notre Dame’s 11 regular veterans have posted career highs in scoring: Dhadphale, Urick, Noble, Simon, Cotnoir, senior C Lyle Andrusiak (8-13), soph. RW John Dwyer (6-4), soph. D Tyson Fraser (1-13) and soph. D Sean Molina (0-6) ... Dhadphale has no goals and a total of just five shots in his last three games ... 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 SERIES: NMU has performed better in clutch situations and when holding leads, as the Wildcats are 6-4 in one-goal games (including last week’s loss to the Irish), 3-1-4 in OT, 11-3-2 when scoring first and 9-1-2 when ahead at the second intermission (Notre Dame is 6-7, 2-4-4, 12-7-2 and 13-5-2 in those situations) ... the Irish have a special teams edge, with a 17.9 pct. power play and 85.7% penalty-killing (NMU is 12.3, 80.8) ... Notre Dame is averaging more than four fewer penalties per game than NMU (5.91-10.28), resulting in just 4.00 opponent power-play chances/gm (to NMU’s 6.19) and just 0.57 opponent PPGs per game (20 total), half that of NMU’s average (1.19, 38) ... Notre Dame is +5 in first-period scoring (to UNM’s -8) but the Wildcats are better in the third (+4, to Notre Dame’s -9) ... the Irish have eight players with 20-plus points (to UNM’s four) but the Wildcats have 15 with 10-plus points (to ND’s 11) ... both teams have just three seniors and a high number of freshmen (UNM 10, ND 8).

    SCOUTING NMU: NMU (16-12-4, 14-10-3 CCHA) is coming off a split vs. Notre Dame (3-4) and UAF (3-1) ... NMU opened CCHA play with a record of 6-1-1 and has remained in the race for home ice in the CCHA Tournament, standing tied with OSU for third ... NMU’s top scorers are junior C Buddy Smith (7-19), sophomore LW Roger Trudeau (12-11), sophomore RW J.P. Vigier (10-13) and freshman LW Frad Mattersdorfer (11-11) ... sophomore Duane Hoey ranks sixth among CCHA regular goaltenders with a 2.91 season GAA, plus an .883 save pct. ... Hoey has started 27 of NMU’s 32 games ... NMU’s special teams have been anything but special this season, as the Wildcats rank last in the CCHA for power play (.122) and ninth in penalty killing (.808) ... NMU ranks fifth in the CCHA for scoring (3.44 goals/gm) while owning the sixth-best team GAA (3.13) ... NMU is 643 in one-goal games, 3-1-4 in OT, 9-1-2 when holding a second-intermission lead and 11-3-2 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), Mich. (1-0), UAF (5-4/OT, 7-3), @Miami (3-2), BG (6-5), Miami (5-3), WMU (5-2), BG (8-2), @FSU (5-3), @BG (3-2/OT) ... 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), @Mich. (2-4).

    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 SERIES: Prior to Notre Dame’s 4-3 win at UNM, the Wildcats had won their previous six games against Notre Dame, with five of those wins coming by a single goal ... the previous games in the series came 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).

    LAST WEEK: Notre Dame clinched its first CCHA Tournament berth since 1995, skating to a 4-3 win at Lakeview Arena despite not receiving any goals from the top-seven Irish goal scorers ... the Irish held a 39-31 shot advantage while converting on 2-of-5 power-play chances (UNM was 0-for-2) ... Notre Dame cashed in a first-period power-play chance, with Brian Urick setting up Mark Eaton’s eighth goal of the season (15:39) ... minutes later, NMU’s Tyson Holly wristed his sixth goal of the season past Matt Eisler to tie the game (15:39), assisted by J.P. Vigier and Bryan Phillips ... the Irish erupted for 19 shots and a pair of goals in the second period but NMU’s Bryan Phillips struck first (5:24), putting home a rebounded shot by Vigier (with Jeff White also drawing an assist) ... just as he had done in the first period, Eaton skated around an NMU defenseman to convert a second power-play goal (14:58), off feeds from Ben Simon and Dan Carlson ... five minutes later, Benoit Cotnoir intercepted a pass and alertly flicked the puck forward for Chad Chipchase, who tucked the breakaway goal past Duane Hoey for a 3-2 lead (19:43) and Chipchase’s first goal since his second-period hat trick at FSU on Nov. 22 ... the hosts tied the game 52 52 seconds into the third period, on Roger Trudeau’s 12th goal of the season (assisted by Buddy Smith) ... midway through the period, John Dwyer scored his sixth goal of the season on a centering pass from Lyle Andrusiak, providing the final margin (10:37)

    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 sixth 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 (31 A’s, three A-’s and one B+) 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 69 straight games and 142 of 143, becoming the 15th player in Irish hockey history to appear in 142-plus ... by playing in each of Notre Dame’s remaining regular season games and at least two postseason games, Noble would become the sixth Irish player to appear in 147-plus career games, joining John Schmidt (152, ’82), Jack Brownschidle (150, ’77), Greg Meredith (149, ’80), Bill Rothstein (148, ’82) and Jeff Logan (147, ’82) ... 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 third on the team in plus-minus (+7) and has 25 points, including 17 assists (all in CCHA play) ... Eaton has 15 points in the last 11 games, including two PPGs at NMU (4-3), 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 is tied for 15th among all CCHA players with 24 points (8-16) in league games, also ranking third among all CCHA freshmen--behind Michigan forward Mark Kosick (10-18) and MSU forward Rustyn Dolyny (15-17)--and tied for first among all CCHA defensemen, with FSU’s Brett Colborne (6-18) ... Eaton’s 16 assists in CCHA play are tied for 14th among all CCHA players ... Carlson is fifth on the team in plus-minus (+5) and has 10 goals and 13 assists for 23 points (seventh on the team) ... Carlson had a goal in the 2-1 OT loss at LSSU, an assist at NMU (4-3), a goal and assist in the OT loss at Michigan (5-4), a goal and two assists in the 5-1 win over Brown and two goals and two assists in the weekend series with 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 26 pts (8-18) rank third among all CCHA defensemen behind Miami’s Dan Boyle (13-25) and FSU’s Brett Colborne (6-26) ... his 17 power-play points (3-14) rank fourth in the CCHA, behind Michigan’s Bill Muckalt (11-15) and Mark Kosick (4-15) and MSU’s Sean Berens (13-10) ... Cotnoir has nine points (1-8) in the last 11 games, including a key assist at NMU (4-3), three assists in the 5-1 win at UAF ... he has 59 career points (19 G, 40 A) from the blue line, with nearly 65 percent (5-21) of his 41 pts during the past two seasons coming on the power play.

    WHO’S HOT?: Junior D Benoit Cotnoir (14 points in last 17 games), sophomore RW John Dwyer (10 in last 15), freshman D Mark Eaton (15 in last 11), sophomore C Ben Simon (9 in last 7), senior C Lyle Andrusiak (7 in last 5), junior LW Aniket Dhadphale (9 points in last 6 games, but 0 goals in last 3).

    WHO’S DUE?: Several Notre Dame players will be looking to get back on track this week ... most notably, freshman LW Dan Carlson, senior C Steve Noble and junior RW Brian Urick all were held without a point two weeks ago as linemates vs. WMU and OSU (Urick moved back to the second line last week, with freshman Matt Van Arkel moving up to the first line) ... Noble has just two goals in the last 12 games (27 shots) while Urick has only one goal in the last six ... Carlson has just two goals in the last nine games, including the lone score in last week’s 2-1 OT loss at Lake Superior.

    SIMON SAYS: Sophomore C Ben Simon has a point in 24 of 31 games ... he leads the Irish and is 12th in the CCHA with 33 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 has nine points (2-7) in his last seven games, with his six-game point streak snapped in the 2-1 loss at Lake Superior.

    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 35 games, fourth-most in the CCHA behind Michigan’s Bill Muckalt (28) and MSU’s Sean Berens (30) and Mike York (23) ... Dhadphale has converted on 20.4 percent of his 108 shots (one goal per every 4.9 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 rank third in the nation ... his 22 goals are the most by an Irish player in the last six seasons, since Lou Zadra scored 24 in 1991-92 ... Dhadphale’s 11 PPGs equal the second-most by an Irish player in the 1990s, trailing only Tim Harberts’ 13 in 1994-95.

    DOUBLE TROUBLE: Junior Forrest Karr and senior Matt Eisler have formed a formidable goaltending duo this season ... Eisler, who owns a 2.95 GAA and .899 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 and 33 in the 4-2 win over WMU ... his 2.95 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 .899 save pct. ranks behind Mark Kronholm’s .907 (’70-71) ... Eisler saved 49 of 51 shots three 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 the Irish career saves list ... Eisler’s 2,731 career saves trail only Dick Tomasoni (2,756, 1968-72) and ’90 grad Lance Madson (3,519) in the Irish record book ... his 5,898 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 2.94 team GAA and .893 save pct., both on pace for Irish records.

    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 207 penalties for an average of just 5.91 per game--while posting a 2.94 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 (15) and Lake Superior (17) ... the Irish have allowed just 4.00 opponent power-play chances per game (lowest in the CCHA) and 140 total opponents PP chances (MSU has the second fewest, at 160) ... Notre Dame has totaled four or fewer penalties in 15 games this season and has averaged just 4.91 penalties/gm over the past 21 games ... after Notre Dame, the CCHA’s least-penalized teams this season are: Miami (7.88), MSU (7.91), FSU (8.36) and Michigan (9.09) ... the CCHA’s most-penalized teams are WMU (10.83), UAF (10.72), LSSU (10.59), NMU (10.28), OSU (9.81) and BG (9.65) ... hard-hitting Irish sophomore D Nathan Borega has just 15 penalties this season (six in his last 19 games) and less than one per game in his career (46 in 64 games) ... other disciplined skaters: senior C Steve Noble (eight penalties in ’97-’98, 24 in last 65), sophomore D Tyson Fraser (seven, 23 in 57 career gms), sophomore D Sean Molina (3, one in last 26), freshman D Ryan Clark (7) and freshman D Mark Eaton (14) ... junior RW Brian Urick struggled with penalties his first two seasons (58 in 70 gms) but has just eight this season (one per every 4.4 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 43-34 in the final 20:00 ... the Irish have outscored the opposition 20-9 in the third period of their 15 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 11-9-0 away from home, losing 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) and LSSU (2-1) ... the Irish have scored three-plus goals in 15 road games but just six home games ... Notre Dame has scored 69 goals away from home on 630 shots on goal, for an average of 9.1 shots per goal (11.0 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.).

    SPECIAL IMPROVEMENT: Despite a power-play slip prior to the UAF series, Notre Dame has converted on 23.5 percent (16-of-68) of its power plays in the last 13 games, including a 3-for-10 effort last week ... Notre Dame’s season power-play (.191/36-for-188) is up considerably from last season (.127) and ranks fourth in the CCHA ... Notre Dame also has surged to second in the CCHA with an 18.8 percent power-play unit in conference games ... the team’s season penalty-killing now stands at .857 (120-for-140), 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 (1st/2nd) and Notre Dame are the only CCHA teams ranked among the top four for power play and penalty killing.

    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 ... 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 ...

    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 -5 (12 SHG, 17 PPG allowed) and MSU’s -13 (2/15) ... the other CCHA teams break down as follows: OSU (-18), Michigan (-24), Miami (-25), FSU (-30), NMU (-31), BG (-32), WMU (-32) and UAF (-40).

    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 14 losses this season have come after the Irish held a lead at the second intermission, as Notre Dame is 13-5-2 in games when leading after 40 minutes (losses to B.C., FSU, Lake Superior, Northeastern and UAF) ... the Irish also are just 12-7-2 when scoring first, last failing to win at Lake Superior (2-1/OT) after scoring the first goal.

    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 21-27 points, while six players have between 6-9 goals ... four players--Dhadphale, sophomore C Ben Simon, senior C Lyle Andrusiak and sophomore RW John Dwyer--have come through with a pair of game-winning goals while Urick has a team-high four GWGs while three others have one each (senior C Steve Noble, freshman LW Dan Carlson and junior D Benoit Cotnoir) ... after Simon’s 33 points (9-24) and Dhadphale’s 31 (22-9), Notre Dame’s offense has come from Urick (14-13), Noble (8-16), Carlson (10-13), junior D Benoit Cotnoir (8-18), Andrusiak (8-13) and freshman D Mark Eaton (9-16).

    35-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. (.486) 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 +8.7/gm), power-play pct. (up 6.4%) and power-play goals per game (up 0.37) ... noteworthy defensive improvements include the 85.7 pct. penalty-killing unit (up 4.4%), a 2.94 GAA (0.79 better than last season), an 89.3 save pct. (up 1.1) and just 5.91 penalties per game (2.78 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 31-26 first-period scoring edge (the opponents outscored the Irish 39-23 in the first period last season) ... the Irish are 6-7 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 43-34 in the final period and are just 13-5-2 when holding a second-intermission lead.

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

                         1996-97        1997-98       Change
    Wins                 9-25-1         15-16-4       +6
    Winning pct.         27.1%          48.6%         +21.5%
    One-goal games       15 (3-12/.200) 13 (6-7/.461) +.262
    Goals per game       2.63           3.17          +0.54
    Shots per game       27.2           31.5          +4.3
    Shooting pct.        9.7%           10.1%         +0.4%
    Opponent shots/gm    31.8           27.4          +4.4
    Shot margin          -4.6           +4.1          +8.7
    Power-play  pct.     12.7%          19.1%         +6.44%
    Power-play goals/gm  0.66 (23)      1.03 (36)     +0.37
    Shorthanded goals/gm 0.06 (2)       0.20 (7)      +0.14
    Penalties per game   8.69           5.91          +2.78
    Penalty-killing pct. 81.3%          85.7%         +4.4%
    Goals-against-avg.   3.73           2.94          +0.79
    Save pct.            88.2%          89.3%         +1.1%
    Goal margin          -1.11          0.23          +1.34
    SH goals allowed/gm  0.23 (7)       0.06 (2)      +0.17
    1st period goals/gm       0.66 (23)      0.89 (31)       +0.23
    1st period goal margin    -0.46 (23-39)  +0.14 (31-26)   +0.60
    3rd period goals/gm       0.94 (33)      0.97 (34)       +0.03
    3rd period goal margin    -0.26 (33-42)  -0.26 (34-43)   -------
    Ahead at 1st intermission 4-5-0 (.444)   9-2-1 (.792)    +.348
    Ahead at 2nd intermission 6-2-0 (.750)   13-5-2 (.700)   -.050
    US College Hockey Online Coaches Poll (2/23)
       1.   North Dakota (23; 25-4-1)     292
       2.   Michigan State (7;  24-4-5)   272
       3.   Boston University (23-5-2)    241
       4.   New Hampshire (22-6-1)        206
       5.   Michigan (24-8-1)             161
       6.   Yale (20-5-0)                 153
       7.   Boston College (19-8-4)        81
       8.   St. Cloud State (18-10-2)      67
       9.   Clarkson (16-7-3)              49
      10.   Wisconsin (20-11-1)            34
    Others receiving votes: Ohio State (24) Miami (16),
    Colorado College (8), Northeastern (6), N. Michigan (3),
    Colgate (1), Cornell (1).
    

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