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    Fighting Irish
    March 5, 1998

    Men's Hockey Plays Host to Michigan

    Irish ready for postseason

  • Sixth-place finish still in the cards, final home game for seniors
  • Irish to play at Michigan St., Michigan or Ohio St. in CCHA Tournament
  • Eisler, Urick, Cotnoir and Dhadphale key sweep of Northern Michigan
  • Eisler moves into second on Irish career saves list

    Notre Dame (17-16-4, 12-13-4 CCHA) remains in contention for 6th-place in the CCHA, heading into this weeks regular-season finale vs. 2nd-place Michigan (Sat., March 7) ... Michigan won at Notre Dame on Jan. 30 (7-2) and at home the next night (5-4/OT), after an apparent goal by Notre Dame C Steve Noble was waived off with 23 seconds left in regulation ... the Irish are tied with Lake Superior for 6th, one point ahead of Ferris State ... Saturday will be the final home game for three Notre Dame seniors: Noble, C Lyle Andrusiak and G Matt Eisler, plus student assistant Justin Theel.

    Notre Dame will be making its first CCHA Tournament appearance since 95 and will play a best 2-of-3 series on March 13-15 at Michigan State, Michigan or Ohio State ... Notre Dame won at Northern Michigan on Feb. 20 (4-3) and swept NMU last week (3-1, 5-2), marking the first Irish season sweep of a CCHA series since Notre Dame took three games from OSU in 94-95 ... junior RW Brian Urick earned CCHA player of the week, totaling six points (2-4) vs. NMU ... sophomore D Tyson Fraser (back) has missed the last eight games while his linemate and classmate Nathan Borega (shoulder) has missed six straight.

    THE CCHA RACE: MSU (20-4-4/44 pts) is likely the #1 seed, unless it loses twice this week (at LSSU and NMU) and Michigan (20-7-1/41) wins twice (at Bowling Green and ND) ... the #1 seed will host #8, #2 will host #7, etc. ... OSU (17-10-1/35) is the #3 seed, with the games to be held at the OSU Ice Rink (1,400 cap., 185 x 85) ... Notre Dame and OSU split two games this season at the Ohio Expo Arena (5,200, 200 x 85) ... Miami (14-11-4/32) and NMU (14-12-3/31) are battling for the final home-ice spot, with NMU holding the tiebreaker ... Miami is at BG this week while NMU hosts MSU ... FSU (12-3-3/27) is 8th but still has a shot at 5th ... FSU will host OSU twice this week ... LSSU (12-13-4/28) hosts MSU Friday and holds the tiebreaker over the Irish ... if LSSU, FSU and ND finish in a three-way tie, FSU would claim 6th and LSSU 7th (LSSU and FSU are 3-2-1 vs. the other two while ND is 1-3-2; LSSU wins the tiebreaker with FSU) ... previous information from the CCHA had wrongly concluded that LSSU would be 6th and ND 7th.

    ICE BREAKERS: Notre Dame and OSU have improved 15 points in the CCHA standings from last season, tied for the 8th-best turnaround in CCHA history (the Irish were 6-20-1) ... keys to Notre Dames improvement have come in the area of shot margin (+8.5/gm), power-play pct. (+6.2%), first-period scoring (+8 this season, -13 last season) and one-goal games (6-7 this season, 3-12 last season) ... Notre Dame has won five CCHA series this season--NMU (3-0), FSU (2-0-1), WMU (2-1-0), UAF (2-1-0) and BG (2-0-1)--but still could finish 8th in the standings ... 26 points last season would have placed 5th in the CCHA but would be a point out of 8th this season ... Notre Dame (4th/4th) and MSU (1st/1st) are the only teams among the CCHA top-four in overall power play and penalty killing (the Irish have surged to 2nd in CCHA games PP%, at 18.5).

    Notre Dame PPGs have provided the margin in six Irish wins this season and helped forge two ties ... despite the impending loss of senior Cs Steve Noble and Lyle Andrusiak, Notre Dame is set to return all nine of its defensemen and nearly 87 percent of the goals from this season (103 of 119) ... the Irish rank 17th in this weeks national pair-wise power rankings, 13th in the nation for scoring defense (2.86/gm), 15th in PK% (85.2) and 20th in PP% (18.9) ... Notre Dame is 11-9-0 away from home (3.5 gls/gm) and 6-7-4 at home (2.9 gls/gm)--but 3-1-1 in its last five home games ... the Irish are tied with Michigan and Boston College as the third-youngest team in Div. I hockey ... Notre Dame is the CCHAs least-penalized team (6.24/gm) for the 2nd-straight season, allowing a CCHA-low 4.03 opponent PPs/gm ... the Irish are on pace to set records for GAA (2.86) and save pct. (.895) while the teams penalty killing is best at Notre Dame since 70 ... freshman have combined for 26.5% of NDs pts (33-48) ... NDs 18 starting skaters have included as many as seven freshmen, six sophomores.

    Notre Dame is allowing 2.86 goals/gm (5th in CCHA) but is 7th in scoring (3.22 gpg) ... Notre Dames power play has 38 goals--3rd in the CCHA--while allowing two opponent SHGs (tied for fewest in the CCHA), for a +36 PP ratio that ranks behind only Michigan (+41) and MSU (+30) ... the Irish have the 3rd-best penalty-kill ratio (-14, 22 PPGs all./8 SHG scored), behind LSSUs -9 (21/12) and MSUs -12 (15/3) ... NDhas been outscored 29-10 in the 3rd period of its losses ... ND matched Boston College with the most 97 NHL draft picks (four): Ben Simon (5th rd, Chicago), Joe Dusbabek (7th, San Jose), Jay Kopischke (8th, L.A.) and Ryan Clark (9th, N.Y. Islanders) ... ND has seven former NHL draft picks (2nd to Michigans nine in the CCHA), with the others being Noble (St. Louis), jr. RW Brian Urick (Edmonton) and jr. LW Aniket Dhadphale (San Jose).

    AROUND THE HORN: CCHA rookie-of-the-year candidate Mark Eaton has 17 pts in the last 13 games ... his 26 pts (9-17) in CCHA games are tied for 15th among all CCHA players, 3rd among all freshmen and tied for 1st among all defensemen ... his linemate, junior Benoit Cotnoir, is tied for 3rd among CCHA defensemen for conference scoring (8-15) ... Cotnoirs 19 overall PP points (4-15) are tied for 3rd among all CCHA players, 1st among defensemen ... senior C Steve Noble has played in 144 of 145 career games and 71 straight ... senior G Matt Eisler last week moved into 2nd on the Irish career saves list (2,778) and eclipsed the 6,000-minute plateau ... top scorers: soph. C Ben Simon (9-26), jr. LW Aniket Dhadphale (24-10), jr. RW Brian Urick (16-17), Cotnoir (10-19), Eaton (10-18), Noble (8-16), and fr. LW Dan Carlson (10-14) ... Dhadphale is the CCHAs 3rd-leading goal scorer and ranks 3rd in the nation with 12 PPGs ... Urick is 5th in the nation with five GWGs ... nine of Notre Dames 11 regular veterans have posted career highs in scoring: Dhadphale, Urick, Noble, Simon, Cotnoir, senior C Lyle Andrusiak (8-14), soph. RW John Dwyer (6-4), soph. D Tyson Fraser (1-13) and soph. D Sean Molina (0-6) ... Simon and classmate Joe Dusbabek helped the U.S. claim fifth at the recent World Juniors in Finland (Simon had 1 G, 3 A).

    KEYS TO THE GAME: Michigan holds most of the statistical edges, although ND has better penalty killing and scoring depth ... Notre Dame (6.24) is averaging more than five fewer penalties than Michigan (11.57), resulting in just 4.05 opponent PPs/gm (to UMs 4.97) ... Notre Dame has the better PK unit (85.3% - 82.1%) while both teams have eight SHGs ... despite scoring 15 fewer goals than Michigan, Notre Dame has more players with five-plus goals (11) than UM (8) and has more players with 20-plus points (8-6) ... Michigan has a decent road record (12-6-1) but the Irish are coming around at home, going 3-1-1 in their last five home games while outscoring teams 19-10 in those games ... Michigan has performed better in the clutch, going 10-4 in one-goal games (to NDs 6-7) and 4-1-0 in OT (to NDs 2-3-4) ... UM has shown it can play with a lead, going 19-2-1 when scoring first and 18-0-0 when ahead at the 2nd intermission (ND is 14-7-2 and 15-5-2, respectively) ... Michigan has relied on a big shot margin (+8.2/gm, to NDs +3.9) ... both teams have closely-match power-play units, as Michigan is 20.2% with 43 PPGs and just 2 opponent SHGs while Notre Dame is 18.9% with 38 PPGs and 2 opp. SHGs ... UM has been stronger in the 3rd, with a 50-27 scoring edge in the final 20:00 (ND has been outscored 45-36 in the 3rd).

    UM NOTES: Michigan (26-9-1, 20-7-1 CCHA) is coming off a 2-1 loss to FSU and a 5-2 win over LSSU ... UM, picked 3rd in the preseason CCHA coaches poll, returned 14 of 23 letterwinners from its team that went 35-4-4 en route to the CCHA title and the NCAA semis ... UMs biggest losses included three players with 60-plus pts: Hobey Baker Award winner Brendan Morrison (31-57), John Madden (26-37) and Jason Botterill (37-24), plus first-line defensemen Harold Schock and Blake Sloan ... sr. RW Bill Muckalt leads the CCHA in pts (29-28-57) and GWGs (7) ... sr. Marty Turcos 119 career wins are an NCAA record ... his season totals: 25-8-1,. 2.18 GAA (2nd CCHA) and .906 save pct. ... UMs other leading scorers: jr. C Bobby Hayes (19-19), fr. C Mark Kosick (10-28) and fr. F Josh Langfeld (15-15) ... Langfeld owns 8 PPGs while Hayes has a CCHA-best 4 SHGs ... UM ranks 3rd in the CCHA for power play (.202), 6th in penalty killing (.821) ... the Wolverines are averaging a CCHA-best 3.72 goals/gm and allowing just 2.39/gm (2nd, behind MSUs 1.65) ... UM is 12-6-1 on the road, 10-4 in one-goal games, 4-0-1 in OT, 18-0-0 when ahead at the 2nd intermission and 19-2-1 when scoring first ... UMs 11 freshmen have combined for 133 pts (39-94) and have had a hand in 66% of the goals ... other CCHA losses: MSU (2-4, 1-5, 1-4), at NMU (0-1) and at Miami (1-3, 3-4), with a 3-3 tie at FSU.

    THE SERIES: Michigan leads 47-36-2 and has won 26 of its last 27 vs. the Irish (8 straight) ... UMs power play is 7-for-34 (29.4%) in the last five games vs. the Irish ... Notre Dame ended an 18-game losing streak vs. UM with a 6-3 home win on Feb. 25, 1995, with Steve Noble assisting on the goal that put Notre Dame ahead 2-0 in the 2nd ... UM won last year's games 6-3, 3-1, 6-1 ... in last years first game (at ND), five UM players scored in the 1st period and UM staved off a 2nd-period Irish rally ... that victory was the 15th straight win for UM, equaling the school record (MSU beat UM the next night) ... Notre Dame scored three unanswered goals--by Benoit Cotnoir, Joe Dusbabek and Aniket Dhadphale--before Bill Muckalts goal stopped the momentum ... in the 2nd game (at UM), Matt Eisler made 20 saves in the 1st, 13 in the 2nd and 44 total ... Aniket Dhadphale scored early in the 3rd, cutting UMs lead to 2-1 ... UM was 4-for-12 on the power play in the final win, with Brian Uricks goal midway through the 3rd averting the shutout.

    THIS YEARS GAMES: UM won at ND on Jan. 30 (7-2) and at home the next night (5-4/OT) ... the Irish were 3-for-11 on the power play for the weekend, UM was 3-for-10 ... ND jumped ahead nine minutes into the first game, when Jay Kopischke scored off assists from Tyson Fraser and John Dwyer ... UM stretched to a 4-1 lead--behind goals from two goals from Krikor Arman and one each by Bobby Hayes and Mark Kosick--before Mark Eaton scored a 5-on-3 goal midway through the 2nd ... UM capped the scoring with goals from Dale Rominski, Scott Matzka and Bill Muckalt ... the next night, UM pulled Marty Turco with a 4-1 second-intermission lead and Notre Dame rallied to tie the game with three 3rd-period goals vs. Gregg Mallicke (by Dan Carlson, Matt Van Arkel and Eaton) ... Steve Noble appeared to score with 23.7 left in regulation but the referee had blown the play dead for a faceoff ... Van Arkels goal was sandwiched by PPGs from Carlson and Eaton ... Greg Croziers third goal of the game provided the margin in OT while Matt Herr and Bobby Hayes helped UM jump ahead 2-0 midway through the 1st.

    FRIEND OR FOE?: Several Notre Dame and Michigan players are past teammates: ND sr. C Steve Noble and UM sr. G Marty Turco (Soo Legion AAA Midgets); ND jr. C Craig Hagkull and UM fr. F Bill Trainor (Des Moines Buccaneers); ND soph. RW John Dwyer and UM soph. D Kevin Magnuson (Dubuque Saints); ND soph. D Tyson Fraser and UM soph. D Sean Peach (Team BC); ND soph. D Andy Jurkowski and UM fr. F Scott Matzka (Wisconsin Capitals); ND soph. D Sean Seyferth and UM jr. C Bobby Hayes and jr. RW Dale Rominski (Compuware Ambassadors); ND fr. LW Chad Chipchase and UM fr. D Mike VanRyn (Team Ontario); and ND fr. D Ryan Clark and UM fr. F Josh Langfeld (Lincoln Stars).

    LAST WEEK: Matt Eisler stopped 47 of 50 shots and Brian Uricks six points led a rejuvenated offense as Notre Dame finished off the season series with NMU (3-1, 5-2) ... Urick and Mark Eaton made the big plays in the first game while Eisler had 18 saves ... ND scored midway through the 2nd, when Urick worked the puck to Dan Carlson, who zipped a centering pass from the right side ... Eaton was slanting in from the left, took the puck in stride, faked NMU goalie Duane Hoey to the stick side, slid the puck across the crease and nudged home a backhander ... Urick scored early in the 3rd, after Ben Simon was won a faceoff in the Irish end and Aniket Dhadphale slid the puck in the direction of Urick at mid-ice ... Urick skated free on the breakaway, depositing a low shot to Hoeys stick-side (4:46) ... NMUs Roger Trudeau scored on the power play with 3:44 left ... Hoey left with 45 seconds to play but Eisler stopped two shots by Rich Metro ... Eaton then played the puck to Urick, who fired a shot from the Irish blue line that clanged off the left post and into the net (19:52) ... Eisler had 28 saves the next night in a game that featured 56 NMU penalty minutes and 46 for the Irish ... Notre Dame scored two PPGs in a 30-second span midway through the 1st ... Carlson the opening 5-on-3 goal, working the puck to Urick at the left circle ... Urick faked a shot, pivoted and slid a pass back to the top of the right circle for Benoit Cotnoir, who calmly moved to his left before rifling a low shot past Hoey ... 30 seconds later, Cotnoir sent a pass from the right circle into the slot and Dhadphale tipped the puck past Hoey ... the Irish took a 3-0 lead into the intermission, when Dhadphale knocked home a rebounded shot from Ryan Clark (15:01) ... Notre Dame added a goal at 5:26 of the 2nd period, when Sean Seyferth sent home his 1st goal of the season on a shot from the top of the left circle that sailed past Hoey into the upper right corner of the net ... the Irish stretched to 5-0 midway through the period, when Urick led the rush down the right side and slid a centering pass to Cotnoir for his third SHG of the season.

    MUY BIEN, SENOR: Notre Dames Joyce Center crowd this week will bid farewell to the hockey programs senior class: centers Steve Noble and Lyle Andrusiak, goaltender Matt Eisler and student assistant coach Justin Theel (who ended his playing career early last season due to a degenerative disk problem in his back) ... Eisler last week moved into second place on the Notre Dame career saves list (2,728) while eclipsing the 6,000-minute plateau ... he ranks 1st at Notre Dame for career GAA (3.91) and 4th in career save pct. (.881) while his current season GAA (2.80) and .902 save pct. both rank 2nd in Irish history ... Noble is on the verge of playing in his 72nd consecutive game and 145th out of 146 in his career ... just eight previous Irish players have appeared in 145-plus games ... John Schmidt (82, 152/153), Jack Brownschidle (77, 150/150) and Noble are the only Irish players ever to appear in 140-plus games while missing none or one ... Noble is sixth on the team this season with a career-best 24 pts (8-16) and has 74 career pts (28-46) ... Andrusiak last week became the 20th Irish player ever to log 140-plus career games and would make his 141st appearance on Saturday ... he is 8th on the team this season with a career-best 22 pts (8-14) and has 64 career pts (26-38).

    NOBLE MAN: Senior Steve Nobles 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 tied for 6th on the team with 24 points, including 16 assists (4th 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 GPA (31 As, 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 71 straight games and 144 of 145, becoming the 9th player in Irish hockey history to appear in 144-plus ... by playing in each of Notre Dames remaining regular season games and at least two postseason games, Noble would become the 6th 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 CCHAs top freshmen ... Eaton is tied for 2nd on the team in plus-minus (+11) and is 5th in scoring with 27 points, including 17 assists (all in CCHA play) ... Eaton has 17 points (9-8) in the last 13 games, including a PPG and assist in the 3-1 home win over NMU, 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 26 points (9-17) in league games, also ranking 3rd among all CCHA freshmen--behind Michigan forward Mark Kosick (10-18) and MSU forward Rustyn Dolyny (15-17)--and tied for 1st among all CCHA defensemen with FSUs Brett Colborne (7-19) ... Carlson is tied for 5th on the team in plus-minus (+7) and has 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points (6th on the team) ... Carlson assisted on Eatons PPG last week vs. NMU (3-1), 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 Cotnoirs 29 pts (10-19) rank 3rd among all CCHA defensemen behind Miamis Dan Boyle (14-25) and FSUs Brett Colborne (7-27) ... his 19 power-play points (4-15) rank 3rd in the CCHA, behind Michigan F Bill Muckalt (11-16) and MSU F Sean Berens (13-10) ... Cotnoir has 12 points (3-9) in the last 13 games, including a PPG, PP assist and SHG in the 5-2 win over NMU, a key assist at NMU (4-3) and three assists in the 5-1 win at UAF ... he has 62 career points (21-41) from the blue line, with over 65 percent (6-22) of his 43 pts during the past two seasons coming on the power play ... just seven of Cotnoirs 29 points this season have been even-strength (he has three SHGs).

    WHOS HOT?: Junior RW Brian Urick (6 points in last 2 games), junior D Benoit Cotnoir (17 in last 19), sophomore RW John Dwyer (10 in last 17), freshman D Mark Eaton (17 in last 13), sophomore C Ben Simon (11 in last 9), senior C Lyle Andrusiak (8 in last 7), junior LW Aniket Dhadphale (12 in last 8).

    WHOS DUE?: Senior C Steve Noble (0 points in last eight games) ... sophomore D Sean Molina (no points in last 13 games) ... sophomore C Ben Simon (just two goals in last 15 games, since returning from World Juniors).

    SIMON SAYS: Sophomore C Ben Simon has a point in 26 of his 33 games ... he leads the Irish and is 12th in the CCHA with 35 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 ... Simons three PPGs equal his freshman year total while his three SHGs are more than Notre Dames team total (2) for all of 1996-97 ... Simon has 11 points (2-9) in his last nine 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 ... Dhadphales sophomore slump included just five goals on 109 shots (4.6 percent) ... this season, Dhadphale has surpassed his freshman and sophomore totals combined, with 24 goals that are tied for 3rd-most in the CCHA behind MSUs Sean Berens (31) and Michigans Bill Muckalt (29) ... Dhadphale has converted on 20.5 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 ... Dhadphales 11 PPGs rank third in the nation ... his 24 goals equal the most by an Irish player in the last eight seasons, since Dave Banoske had 28 1989-90 ... Dhadphales 12 PPGs are second-most by an Irish player in the 1990s and are tied for 5th in Irish history.

    DOUBLE TROUBLE: Junior Forrest Karr and senior Matt Eisler have formed a formidable goaltending duo this season ... Eisler, who owns a 2.84 GAA and .902 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 2.84 GAA ranks third in Irish history--behind John Barrys 2.00 in 68-69 and Chris Cathcarts 2.83 in 70-71--while his .902 save pct. ranks behind only Mark Kronholms record .907 (70-71) ... Eisler saved 49 of 51 shots three weeks week ago vs. BG (1-1, 25) and FSU (7-1, 24) and last week stopped 47 of 50 shot by NMU ... his 39-save performance at Michigan on Jan. 31 (in his 100th career game) moved him into 3rd place on the Irish career saves list while his 28 saves last Saturday vs. NMU give Eisler 2,778 in his career, moving past Dick Tomasoni (72, 2,756) into 2nd on the Irish career saves list, behind 90 grad Lance Madson (3,519) ... Eisler also passed the 6,000-minute mark early in the 3rd period of that NMU game (he now has 6,018, 2nd to Madsons 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 2.86 team GAA and .895 save pct., both on pace for Irish records.

    WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: Notre Dame and Ohio State both have improved 15 points in the CCHA standings from last season, ranking among the top-10 single-season turnarounds in the conferences 27-year history and among the top-six turnarounds in the 1990s ... the all-time best point jump came from the 1995-96 Western Michigan team, which went 21-6-3 to improve 23 points from the previous season (9-14-4) ... other top turnarounds include Miamis last-to-first rise over two years, improving 21 points in 1992 (12-14-6) and 19 in 93 (22-3-5), after finishing last in 1990-91 (3-26-3) ... Bowling Green jumped 21 points in 1982 (20-7-1), after going 10-12-0 the previous season, and llinois-Chicago made a 19-point jump in 1985 (from 5-22-1 to 15-17-0) ... the Irish have a chance to tie for the 6th-best point improvement in CCHA history, as Ferris State (91, 6-20-6 to 15-12-5) and Lake Superior (85, 12-17-1 to 21-11-0) both have posted 17-point turnarounds ... Notre Dame and OSU are the second pair of CCHA teams to improve 15-plus points, joining the 1984-85 IUC and LSSU squads ... this years CCHA schedule included three more games from the previous season, as did WMUs 96 improvement ... the 92 Miami team and 91 FSU squad played the same number of games as the previous season, while the 84-85 schedule added two CCHA games ... BGs 21-point improvement in 1982 came with six games added to the schedule while Miamis 93 improvement actually featured two fewer CCHA games.

    HOME IMPROVEMENT: Notre Dame has finished strong at home, going 3-1-1 in its last five home games, after going just 3-6-3 in the first 12 ... in the last five home games, the Irish have outscored the opposition 19-10 and converted on 11.9 percent of their 160 shots ... in the first 12 home games, Notre Dame was outscored 39-31 and owned just an 8.2 shooting pct. (378 shots) ... during the recent five-game home streak, Notre Dame has led for 61% of the minutes (185:57) while trailing just 15.9 percent of the time (48:27) ... most recently, the Irish last week jumped ahead of NMU in the first eight minutes of both games (8:08, 7:40) and led the rest of the way.

    30-SOMETHING: Notre Dames second line for the last four games--jr. LW Aniket Dhadphale (24-10), soph. C Ben Simon (9-26) and jr. RW Brian Urick (16-17)--comprises the programs first threesome of 30-point scorers in five seasons, since the 1992-93 grouping of Jamie Ling (14-26), Dave Banoske (14-16) and Curtis Janicke (12-18) ... Dhadphale (42-33), Simon (13-41) and Urick (41-44) have combined for 214 career points in a combined 275 games ... Notre Dame is close to having four 30-point scorers for the first time since 1991 and five 30-point scorers for the first time since 1988, as jr. D Benoit Cotnoir (10-19) and fr. D Mark Eaton (10-17) are near the 30-point mark ... Banoske (19-3), Janicke (12-21), Mike Curry (20-22) and Lou Zadra are the last Irish foursome to top 30 points (in 90-91) ... the last Notre Dame group of five-plus players with 30-plus points came in 1987-88, when 10 players topped 30 (the Irish played an independent schedule from 1984-92) ... in its eight seasons of CCHA play (1981-83, 1992-present), Notre Dame has produced more than three 30-point scorers just once, when current Irish head coach Dave Poulin led the way as a senior on the 1981-82 team that went 23-15-2 ... that group of eight 30-plus scorers included: Poulin (29-30), Bill Rothstein (27-30), Kirt Bjork (22-22), Jeff Logan (20-23), John Schmidt (7-34), Rex Belomy (10-30), Jeff Perry (18-18) and Joe Bowie (7-24).

    DISCIPLINED D.: After ranking among the CCHAs most-penalized teams in 1994-95 (11.59 penalties/gm) and 1995-96 (11.33), Notre Dame last season became the conferences least-penalized squad (8.69/gm) ... the Irish again are the CCHAs least-penalized squad, totaling 231 penalties for an average of just 6.24 per game--while posting a 2.86 team GAA that would blow away the existing Irish record (3.40, in 1987-88) ... the Irish have allowed just 22 opponent PPGs, 3rd-fewest in the CCHA behind MSU (15) and Lake Superior (21) ... the Irish have allowed just 4.03 opponent power-play chances per game (lowest in the CCHA) and 149 total opponents PP chances (MSU has the 2nd-fewest, at 163) ... Notre Dame has totaled four or fewer penalties in 15 games this season and has averaged just 5.52 penalties over the past 23 games ... after Notre Dame, the CCHAs least-penalized teams this season are: Miami (9.31), FSU (10.18), MSU (10.32) and Michigan (11.57) ... the CCHAs most-penalized teams are WMU (13.50), BG (12.71), LSSU (12.59), NMU (12.38), UAF (12.33) and OSU (11.39) ... 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 (nine penalties in 97-98, 25 in last 67), sophomore D Tyson Fraser (seven, 23 in 57 career gms), sophomore D Sean Molina (3, one in last 28), freshman D Ryan Clark (9) and freshman D Mark Eaton (15) ... junior RW Brian Urick struggled with penalties his first two seasons (58 in 70 gms) but has just 11 this season (one per every 3.4 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 45-36 in the final 20:00 ... the Irish have outscored the opposition 22-11 in the third period of their 17 wins ... in Notre Dames 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 3rd 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 5-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 Dames 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 eight 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 17 home games, Notre Dame is 6-7-4 and has scored just 49 goals on 526 shots, for an average of 10.7 shots per goal (9.3 shooting pct.).

    SPECIAL IMPROVEMENT: Despite a power-play slip prior to the UAF series, Notre Dame has converted on 22.2 percent (18-of-81) of its power plays in the last 15 games ... Notre Dames season power-play (.189/38-for-201) is up considerably from last season (.127) and ranks 4th in the CCHA ... Notre Dame also has surged to 2nd in the CCHA with an 18.5 pct. power-play unit in conference games ... the teams season penalty-killing now stands at .852 (127-for-149), 4th-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/1st) and Notre Dame are the only CCHA teams ranked among the top-4 in power play and penalty killing ... PPGs have provided the margin of victory in six Irish wins this season--St. Cloud (4-3/3 PPGs), BG (2-1/1), OSU (3-2/1), UAF (5-1/4), BG (5-4/1) and NMU (4-3/2)--while helping forge ties with FSU (5-5/2) and Miami (2-2/1) ... PPGs helped win just two games last season--Mankato State (3-2/1) and WMU (5-4/1)--while earning a 3-3 tie with WMU (1 PPG).

    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.

    PENALTY-KILLING PLUS: Notre Dames 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 SHGs while junior D Benoit Cotnoir and freshman LW Dan Carlson both have two ... Notre Dames -13 penalty-killing effort this season is third-best in the CCHA, behind Lake Superiors -5 (12 SHG, 17 PPG allowed) and MSUs -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 Dames 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 Chipchases hat trick in the 4-3 loss at FSU ... the teams 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 Simons 33 points (9-24) and Dhadphales 31 (22-9), Notre Dames 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).

    KEYS TO THE GAME: Michigan holds most of the statistical edges, although ND has better penalty killing and scoring depth ... Notre Dame (6.24) is averaging more than five fewer penalties than Michigan (11.57), resulting in just 4.05 opponent PPs/gm (to UMs 4.97) ... Notre Dame has the better PK unit (85.3% - 82.1%) while both teams have eight SHGs ... despite scoring 15 fewer goals than Michigan, Notre Dame has more players with five-plus goals (11) than UM (8) and has more players with 20-plus points (8-6) ... Michigan has a decent road record (12-6-1) but the Irish are coming around at home, going 3-1-1 in their last five home games while outscoring teams 19-10 in those games ... Michigan has performed better in the clutch, going 10-4 in one-goal games (to NDs 6-7) and 4-1-0 in OT (to NDs 2-3-4) ... UM has shown it can play with a lead, going 19-2-1 when scoring first and 18-0-0 when ahead at the 2nd intermission (ND is 14-7-2 and 15-5-2, respectively) ... Michigan has relied on a big shot margin (+8.2/gm, to NDs +3.9) ... both teams have closely-match power-play units, as Michigan is 20.2% with 43 PPGs and just 2 opponent SHGs while Notre Dame is 18.9% with 38 PPGs and 2 opp. SHGs ... UM has been stronger in the 3rd, with a 50-27 scoring edge in the final 20:00 (ND has been outscored 45-36 in the 3rd).

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

                    1996-97          1997-98        Change
    Wins            9-25-1           17-16-4        +8
    Winning pct.    27.1%            51.4%          +24.3%
    One-goal games  15 (3-12/.200)   13 (6-7/.461)  +.262
    Goals per game  2.63              3.22          +0.57
    Shots per game       27.2     31.2   +4.0
    Shooting pct.        9.7%     10.3%  +0.6%
    Opponent shots/gm   31.8      27.3   +4.5
    Shot margin         -4.6      +3.9   +8.5
    Power-play  pct.       12.7%       18.9%   +6.2%
    Power-play goals/gm     0.66 (23)   1.03 (38)   +0.37
    Shorthanded goals/gm    0.06 (2)    0.21 (8)    +0.15  
    Penalties per game      8.69        6.24        +2.45
    Penalty-killing pct.       81.3%       85.2%     +3.9%
    Goals-against-avg.          3.73        2.86     +0.87
    Save pct.                  88.2%       89.5%     +1.3%
    Goal margin                -1.11        0.35     +1.46
    Shanded goals allowed/gm    0.23 (7)    0.05 (2) +0.18
    1st period goals/gm       0.66 (23)       0.92 (34)    +0.26
    1st period goal margin   -0.46 (23-39)   +0.22 (34-26) +0.68
    3rd period goals/gm       0.94 (33)       0.97 (36)    +0.03
    3rd period goal margin   -0.26 (33-42)   -0.24 (36-45)  +0.02
    Ahead at 1st intermission   4-5-0 (.444)    10-2-1 (.808)   +.364
    Ahead at 2nd intermission   6-2-0 (.750)    15-5-2 (.727)   -.023

    37-GAME CHECKUP: The Irish can point to many statistical trends that show significant progress from 96-97 ... Notre Dame has improved or remained on the same pace in most of the 23 categories listed above, including a winning pct. (.514) that is nearly double that of last season (.271) ... the most significant offensive improvements have come in the areas of goals per game (up 0.57), shot margin (up +8.5/gm), power-play pct. (up 6.2%) and power-play goals per game (up 0.37) ... noteworthy defensive improvements include the 85.2 pct. penalty-killing unit (up 3.9%), a 2.86 GAA (0.87 better than last season), an 89.5 save pct. (up 1.3) and just 6.24 penalties per game (2.45 fewer than in 96-97) ... Notre Dame has four times as many shorthanded goals (8) than it totaled in all of 1996-97 (2) and owns a 34-26 first-period scoring edge (the opponents outscored the Irish 39-23 in the 1st period last season) ... the Irish are 6-7 in one-goal games, after going 3-12 a year ago, and 10-2-1 when leading at the 1st intermission (4-5-0 last season) ... the 3rd period has yielded the only negative changes in the above categories, as the Irish are being outscored 45-36 in the final period and are just 15-5-2 with a 2nd-intermission lead.

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