January 30, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - With Notre Dame senior right wing and team captain Brian Urick still sidelined by a hand injury, it was only fitting that all three of his classmates that were on the ice came up with the timely plays, as the No. 10-ranked Irish jumped out to an early lead and then scored the game winner with under five minutes remaining for a 3-2 victory over No. 5 Michigan, in the renewal of a growing Central Collegiate Hockey Association rivalry Saturday at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.
Notre Dame (15-7-3, 12-6-2)-which pushed its homer ecord to 9-0-1 (with a 48-17 scoring edge)-moved back into sole possession of the fourth and final home-ice spot for the CCHA polayoffs, pending Northern Michigan's (11-8-2) game at 10th-place Alaska Fairbanks (5-17-0). The Irish also stayed three points behind third-place Ohio State (13-6-3), which posted an 8-0 home win over last-place Western Michigan (2-13-6). Michigan (17-6-4, 14-4-3) remained two points behind league leader Michigan State (14-2-5) and saw its lead over OSU shrink to two points while the Irish are now just five points behind the Wolverines.
The game was played in front of a raucous sellout crowd that had gobbled up all general admission tickets by mid-December. Members of the student body began forming a line for the 350 reserved student tickets in mid-afternoon, with Dillon Hall junior Dan Hennigan (a native of Key West, Fla.) showing up first around 2:45 p.m. The significance of the win was matched by the spirit of the Notre Dame crowd, led by a student body and pep band that kept the atmosphere electric throughout the evening.
The last eight games of the series have included five one-goal games. Two UM wins (two in overtime), two Irish wins (4-2, 3-2) and a 2-2 tie. The teams concluded their season series even on the head-to-head (1-1-1) and goal differential (5 GF, 5GA) tiebreakers, with the third tiebreaker being record vs. the top CCHA teams in descending (likely MSU first). The teams played to a 2-2 tie at Notre Dame last Nov. 14 and Michigan won the next week at home, 1-0.
The last time Michigan failed to post a winning record vs. Notre Dame during the regular season was 1981-82, the senior season of current fourth-year Irish head coach Dave Poulin (the Irish went 2-0-1 before posting two CCHA tournament wins over UM). Since that season, the Wolverines had owned a 30-2-1 series edge prior to Saturday's game.
Notre Dame's many heroes included the senior trio of defenseman Benoit Cotnoir, left wing Aniket Dhadphale and goaltender Forrest Karr. Cotnoir's 4-on-4 goal midway through the first period gave the Irish a 2-0 lead while Dhadphale provided the game-winner on his seventh power-play goal of the season, with 4:43 left to play. Karr stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced while improving to 4-2-2 vs. top-10 ranked opponents this season (6-4-2 in his career).
Junior center Ben Simon proved his worth as one of the CCHA's top Hobey Baker candidates, showcasing his speed on a goal just 1:58 into the first period before providing an assist on the game-winner. Junior right wing Joe Dusbabek, who assisted on the previous two goals vs. UM this season, also had the primary assist on Simon's goal while a blast by sophomore left wing Dan Carlson set up Dhadphale's rebound score. Sophomore right wing Ryan Dolder-who had a goal and assist in last week's 3-3 tie at NMU-provided the only assist on Cotnoir's fourth goal of the season.
Michigan tied the score with two goals in a five-minute stretch of the third period. Freshman center Mike Comrie broke free for his 14th goal of the season while senior center Bobby Hayes provided the lead pass on Comrie's goal before pushing home the game-tying goal amidst some confusion at the Irish net. The surging Notre Dame penalty-killing unit stopped all eight UM man-up chances, giving the Irish PK unit 29 stops in 30 chances over the past six games.
SCORING RECAP: Passes from junior D Andy Jurkowski and Dusbabek found Simon at the rightside boards and Simon beat a Michigan player to the slot before flicking a forehand shot past Michigan freshman Josh Blackburn and into the upper left corner of the net (1:58) ... the goal was Simon's 13th of the season, matching the total from his first two seasons combined (4 and 9) ... Jurkowski's point was his first in the last two seasons (38 games played) ... Cotnoir initiated his own goal by bringing the puck up the ice and sending a pass down the left boards for Dolder, who fought for possession before sliding a pass from the left to the right circle ... Cotnoir redirected a shot over Blackburn's left shoulder for his 82nd career point (11:04) ... UM began its comeback at 6:27 of the third, when Hayes sent a pass from deep in his own end for Comrie, who slanted in from the right and beat Karr with a low forehand shot at the far left post ... less than five minutes later, confusion behind the Irish net (including Simon trying to be useful without a stick) resulted in the puck kicking around the net to Karr's right, with Hayes slapping home just his second goal of the season (he had 21 last season) ... an interference penalty on sophomore D Mike Van Ryn set up the final goal, as the Irish cashed in with just 15 seconds left on the power play .. Simon worked behind the net and found Carlson near the top of the right circle ... Cotnoir was wide open to Carlson's left but he elected to put the shot on net and Dhadphale scooped a backhanded rebound shot past Blackburn's left pad ... the score was Dhadphale's team-leading 14th goal of the season, his 23rd career PPG (eighth in Irish history, one behind former All-American Brian Walsh) and his 99th career point (57G-42A)
NOTES: The Irish welcomed back junior D Tyson Fraser, who missed the previous four games due to nagging injuries ... Notre Dame now has a regular-season win over every CCHA team during the Poulin era ... in other CCHA action Saturday, Miami (4-13-4) maintained its battle for the eighth and final CCHA playoff spot with a 2-2 tie at fifth-place Ferris State (10-7-4), which fell two points behind the Irish ... Lake Superior (5-12-2) moved into a tie with Miami, after rallying to a 4-3 home win over seventh-place Bowling Green (7-10-3) ... the Irish (20 CCHA games played) still have two "games in hand" vs. OSU and FSU (both 21) and two vs. NMU (22) ... Karr has 71 saves and five goals allowed vs. UM this season ... the Irish have allowed 29 third-period goals, compared to 36 in the first two periods combined (16 and 20) ... ND is 12-2-2 when scoring first, 12-0-2 with a second-intermission lead, 8-1-2 when Simon has two-plus points, 11-1-1 when Simon and Dhadphale crack the scoresheet ... Simon has 90 points (26-64) in 91 career games.
No. 5 MICHIGAN (17-6-4, 14-4-3 CCHA) 0 0 2 - 2 No. 10 NOTRE DAME (15-7-3, 12-6-2 CCHA) 2 0 1 - 31st: ND 1. Simon 13 (Dusbabek, Jurkowski) 1:58; ND 2. Cotnoir 4 (Dolder), 4-4, 11:04.
3rd: MICH 1. Comrie 14 (Hayes, Van Ryn) 6:27; MICH 2. Hayes 2 (unassisted) 11:11; ND 3. Dhadphale 14 (Carlson, Simon), PP, 15:18.
SHOTS: MICH 12-7-9/28; ND 11-6-7/24.
SAVES: MICH (Blackburn) 9-6-6/21; ND (Karr) 12-7-7/26.
POWER PLAY: MICH 0-8, ND 1-6.
PENALTIES: MICH 9 for 18:00, ND 11 for 22:00.