February 27, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Senior left wing Aniket Dhadphale ended Notre Dame's seven-game power-play drought midway through the second period and sophomore right wing Ryan Dolder continued his goalscoring mastery versus Northern Michigan with a goal in the third, as the Irish held off a last-minute onslaught Saturday to defeat the Wildcats and claim the season series, in the final regular-season home game at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.
The win vaults Notre Dame (17-11-5, 14-10-4 CCHA) one point ahead of NMU (18-11-5, 13-10-5 CCHA) in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings, with two games left in the regular season. The Irish now occupy the fourth and final home-ice spot for the eight-team CCHA Tournament, three points ahead of Ferris State (12-11-5)-which squandered a 4-3 lead before losing at home to seventh-place Bowling Green (11-14-3).
Notre Dame-which honored the players' parents and the members of the senior class prior to Saturday's game-also secured the head-to-head tiebreaker versus NMU, after the teams had played to two earlier 3-3 ties (at NMU on Jan. 22 and at Notre Dame on Friday). FSU holds the tiebreaker versus both the Irish and the Wildcats.
The Irish head into next week's two-game series at Miami needing a combination of three points between their results and NMU's, in order to clinch home-ice.
Notre Dame could claim home-ice with a win Friday at Miami, coupled with a loss or tie by NMU at Western Michigan (or even a loss or tie by WMU at Michigan on Saturday). Regardless of NMU's results, the Irish ultimately control their own destiny and could clinch home ice with a win and tie during the weekend at Miami. (Note: Notre Dame also needs a combination of two points between its results and FSU's in order to clinch a higher finish than the Bulldogs, who close with two games at No. 2-ranked Michigan State).
The Irish improved to 11-1-3 at home for the 1998-99 season, with a 60-26 scoring edge in those 15 games. Senior goaltender Forrest Karr added another stellar performance to his final season, posting 22 saves while helping stop four NMU power-play chances before yielding a 6-on-4 goal with 0:36 left to play.
Dhadphale-who grew up in Marquette, Mich., just minutes from the NMU campus-opened the scoring at the 13:16 mark of the second period, with his 17th overall goal and ninth power-play goal of the season (both team-highs). Junior defenseman Tyson Fraser initiated the play with his second assist of the weekend and 14th of the season. Fraser worked the puck to senior right wing Brian Urick, who sent a cross-ice pass from the right boards that found Dhadphale at the top of the left circle. Dhadphale squared himself for the open shot before firing the puck over the left shoulder of NMU sophomore goaltender Dan Ragusett, a former youth hockey teammate of Dhadphale's on the Marquette Electricians.
The goal halted Notre Dame's 0-for-33 drought on the power play, stretching back to the Feb. 6 win over Alaska Fairbanks (which was Notre Dame's previous win before the recent 0-4-1 slide). The score also represented the 25th career power-play goal for Dhadphale, moving him into a tie with Tim Kuehl (1986-90) and former All-American Kirt Bjork (1979-83) for fifth all-time at Notre Dame. The goal was the 60th of Dhadphale's career and his 104th career point.
Dolder gave the Irish a 2-0 cushion in the third period, at the exact same time (13:06) as Dhadphale had scored in the second period. Sophomore left wing Chad Chipchase set up the line-change goal when he picked of an NMU pass and worked a give-and-go down the ice with Dolder, who sent a low shot from the top of the right circle that sailed between Ragusett's right skate and the far post.
The goal was just the fifth of the season for Dolder but his third versus the Wildcats (he previously scored in each of the 3-3 ties versus NMU). Dolder became the 10th different Notre Dame player to record a game-winning goal this season.
Roughing penalties by Irish senior defensemen Benoit Cotnoir and NMU sophomore right wing Doug Schmidt produced a 4-on-4 situation with 2:49 left to play, and the Wildcats gained a 5-on-4 advantage at the 18:24 mark, when Fraser was called for a tripping penalty.
The visitors then pulled Ragusett with 54 seconds left to play and capitalized with a 6-on-4 goal at the 19:24 mark, following a flurry of activity in the Irish end. Schmidt knocked home his sixth goal of the season with a shot from the top of the left circle that found its way past a crowded crease area before beating Karr to the glove side. Junior right wing J.P. Vigier and junior left wing Roger Trudeau were credited with assists following the furious action in front of the Irish net.
NMU kept Ragusett on the bench for the ensuing faceoff but was unable to gain the equalizer, with the Notre Dame players saluting their ninth sellout crowd of the season following the emotional conclusion to the game.
PLAYOFF PICTURE: Michigan (16-7-5) beat eighth-place Miami (8-16-4) to move into a tie with idle Ohio State (17-8-3) for second place in the CCHA (OSU holds the tiebreaker with UM) Western Michigan (5-15-8) remains two points behind Miami in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot, after dropping a 4-2 game at first-place Michigan State Notre Dame's likely first-round opponent will be either NMU or FSU the only way Notre Dame could face OSU or Michigan in the first round would be if the Irish dropped to sixth place Michigan clinched home ice and can finish no lower than third next week's final-week action includes: Notre Dame at Miami (2), FSU at MSU (2), WMU and Michigan at NMU and LSSU, and OSU vs. BG in a home-and-home series.
NOTES: Dhadphale notched a goal in all three games vs. his hometown school this season and owns six career points in six games vs. NMU (5G-1A) Urick's assist represented his first point in six games while Chipchase recorded his first point in 11 games the win marked the first time this season that the Irish have emerged victorious when junior C Ben Simon was held off the scoresheet (1-8-1) freshman C Brett Henning again skated on the second line alongside Dhadphale and junior RW Joe Dusbabek while Simon skated with Chipchase and Urick and freshman David Inman centered a line with Dolder and sophomore LW Dan Carlson junior D Sean Seyferth made his seventh appearance of the season while senior Scott Giuliani skated as a seventh defenseman.
NORTHERN MICHIGAN (17-11-5, 14-10-4 CCHA) 0 0 1 - 1
NOTRE DAME (18-11-5, 13-10-5 CCHA) 0 1 1 - 2
ND 1. Dhadphale 17 (Urick, Fraser), PP, 13:06.
ND 2. Dolder 5 (Chipchase) 13:06; NMU 1. D. Schmidt 6 (Vigier, Trudeau), 6-4, 19:24.
NMU 6-12-5/23, ND 6-12-10/28.
NMU (Ragusett) 6-11-9/26; ND (Forrest Karr) 6-12-4/22.
NMU 1-for-5, ND 1-for-5.
NMU 6 for 12:00, ND 6 for 12:00.