February 12, 1999
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Veteran forwards Mike York and Bryan Adams combined on a quickly-developing goal late in the second period and sophomore goaltender Joe Blackburn made 21 saves for his second career shutout, as No. 3 Michigan State held on for a 1-0 victory over No. 6 Notre Dame in Central Collegiate Hockey Association action Friday at Munn Ice Arena.
Despite the loss, fourth-place Notre Dame (16-8-4, 13-7-3 CCHA) moved closer to clinching one of the four home-ice spots in the CCHA first-round playoff series, thanks to Ohio States 6-2 win at Northern Michigan (11-9-3). NMU trails Notre Dame by four points with seven games to play, with the Irish and Wildcats set to conclude their season series on Feb. 26-27 at the Joyce Center. Upcoming opponent Ferris State (11-8-4), which plays at Notre Dame on Saturday night (some tickets still available), used a 5-2 win Friday at ninth-place Western Michigan to edge past NMU into fourth in the CCHA standings, just three points behind the Irish heading into the crucial and deciding game of the season series (currently 1-1-0 and even on goal differential) that would break a tie in the standings.
Michigan State (22-3-6, 16-2-6 CCHA) extended its unbeaten streak to 18 games (14-0-4) and its home unbeaten streak to 26 (21-0-5) while maintaining a three-point cushion over the surging Buckeyes (16-6-3).
In other CCHA action Friday, Lake Superior (7-13-2) claimed sole possession of the eighth and final CCHA playoff spot with a 5-3 win over visiting Miami (5-14-4) while last-place Alaska Fairbanks (6-16-1) gave its fading playoff chances a jolt with a 4-3 overtime win at home over slumping seventh-place Bowling Green (7-12-3).
Third-place Michigan (14-6-3) was idle and maintained its two-point lead on Notre Dame as the Irish picked up their "game in hand" versus the Wolverines (each team has seen games left).
York set up the games first goal after taking a pass from senior defenseman Jeff Kozakowski and leading a 2-on-2 break down the right boards. The senior center tucked a perfect centering pass behind his cover man, junior defenseman Nathan Borega, and the hard-charging Adams sharply redirected the puck past the left leg of senior goaltender Forrest Karr (16:41), giving the senior right wing his 17th goal of the season (tying York for the team lead).
The Irish had nearly opened the scoring eight minutes into the second period, sparked by a long tape-to-tape pass from senior defenseman Benoit Cotnoir that found junior right wing Joe Dusbabek at the opposite blue line, after Dusbabek had released from an interference penalty. Dusbabek deftly took the pass on the near side of the blue line and skated in for an open shot, but Blackburn kicked his legs out to the right for the sprawling pad save (7:43).
GAME NOTES: Irish junior C Ben Simon went without a shot in the game while two other top offensive weapons-senior LW Aniket Dhadphale and sophomore LW Dan Carlson-did not attempt a shot until the final period (Carlson finished with three) the Irish are now 0-5-1 when Simon is held off the scoresheet, compared to 15-3-3 when he has at least one point the only other shutout loss by the Irish this season came at Michigan, by the same 1-0 score Karr had 24 saves in another impressive road performance (he had 25 in the loss at UM) Notre Dames first shot on goal came with 9:07 to play in the first period the Irish had just five shots in the third period, with the righthanded-catching Blackburn making a pair of nice glove saves on shots by Carlson and freshman C David Inman Notre Dame was 0-for-3 on the power play, after notching PPGs in eighth of the previous nine games (0-for-5 in last loss, at LSSU) the first Irish power play (at 7:35 of the second period) began after Dusbabeks interference penalty, lasted just 59 seconds and came without the services of Simon (who was off the ice due to a contested boarding penalty) Dhadphale and senior RW Brian Urick drew roughing penalties after Adams goal (as did Adams and teammate Adam Hall), which proved to be a factor when the Irish picked up a power-play chance 49 seconds later with two of their top offensive threats in the penalty box Yorks assist was the 110th of his career and his 184th career point.
PLAYOFF WATCH: Notre Dame and MSU will conclude their season series in a third straight Friday-night meeting, Feb. 19 at Munn an Irish victory in that game actually would have a bearing in breaking a potential tie in the standings between Notre Dame and Michigan, because-warning, this may be confusing, so just follow along-the teams are even in the first two tiebreaking critertia (1-1-1 head-to-head, 5 to 5 on goal differential) the third tiebreaker is record vs. the top-finishing CCHA teams, in descending order ... Notre Dame still could finish 1-1-1 with MSU (the potential regular-season champ) while Michigan is 1-0-1 vs. MSU heading into their Feb. 20 game at Joe Louis Arena if Notre Dame and UM both end up 1-1-1 vs. MSU, the tiebreaking then could revert to record vs. OSU (and may do so anyway if OSU finishes first), with the Irish owning that edge (1-2-0, compared UMs 0-2-1 mark vs. OSU) an Irish win over FSU also would match UMs season series with the Bulldogs (2-1-0) while the Wolverines are 1-1-0 vs. NMU (the Irish are 0-0-1).
No. 6 NOTRE DAME (16-8-4, 13-7-3 CCHA) 0 0 0 - 0
No. 3 MICHIGAN STATE (22-3-6, 16-2-6 CCHA) 0 1 1 - 1
2nd: MSU 1. Adams 17 (York, Kozakowski) 16:41.
Shots: ND 7-9-5/21; MSU 8-10-7/25.
Saves: ND (Karr) 8-9-7/24; MSU (Blackburn) 7-9-5/21.
Power Play: ND 0-for-3, MSU 0-for-3.
Penalties: ND 9 for 18:00, MSU 9 for 18:00.