March 12, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Sophomore left wing Dan Carlson and senior right wing Brian Urick ended goal slumps early in the first period while junior center Ben Simon again came through with the decisive goal late in the third period, as the Notre Dame hockey team defeated visiting Northern Michigan, 3-2, in the first game of their best-of-three Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoff series Friday at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.
The Irish can win the playoff series with a victory in Saturday night's game, with a game scheduled for Sunday night if necessary (both at 7 p.m.). The four winners of the quarterfinal round will advance to Detroit's Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA semi-finals on March 12 (with the final to be played on the 13th). Notre Dame (19-12-5) improved to 12-1-3 at home, with Friday's exciting game featuring just four penalties between the teams, creating a CCHA Tournament record for fewest combined penalty minutes (6:00 by NMU, 2:00 by the Irish).
Northern Michigan (19-13-5) tied the game thanks to a goal by senior center Brad Frattaroli late in the first period and a shorthanded score in the closing moments of the second period by junior left wing Tyson Holly. Sophomore Dan Ragusett made 31 saves in the losing effort.
Irish senior Forrest Karr made 18 saves and has allowed three or fewer in goals in 18 of his last 19 games. Karr made a memorable sliding save in the final minutes, when Frattoroli launched a shot from the right side of the middle slot. Karr had been hugging the far post and slid quickly to his left before kicking his legs out to cover his left side of the net, with the puck clanging off his pads for one of Karr's most athletic saves of the season.
Urick set up the winning goal, after collecting the puck in the Irish end and leading a rush down the right side. Urick then zipped pass through the slot for sophomore left wing Chad Chipchase, who smacked a one-timer at the far side. Ragusett was there for the save but three Irish players-Urick, Simon and junior defenseman Nathan Borega-each were in position for the rebound opportunity. Urick went flying through the crease while Simon sailed in from the far side and slapped the puck into the right side of the goal (17:27) for his 17th goal of the season, before circling around the net and skating to the left boards for the celebratory team hug (Borega was waiting on the right side of the crease if the streaking Simon had failed to knock in the loose puck).
Carlson opened the scoring just 1:19 into the game, for his seventh goal of the season and first in the last 15 games (ending a 36-shot drought). NMU junior defenseman Kevin Schmidt tried to keep the puck in the Irish zone near the point, but Carlson batted Schmidt's shot away before pouncing on the loose puck and racing down the right boards. Schmidt tried hacking from behind as the speedy Carlson skated into the slot. Ragusett stood his ground but extended his right leg at the far post as the patient Carlson waited before firing a shot between the goaltender's legs for an early 1-0 Irish lead.
Urick made a stellar play on the second Irish score, providing the Irish captain with his first goal in nine games (ending a 37-shot drought). The play began in the Irish end, when a pass from NMU sophomore right wing Fred Mattersdorfer sent a pass into the middle that was too far behind Frattaroli. Urick collected the puck at the far boards and slanted to his right while passing through the mid-ice faceoff area.
As Urick neared the NMU zone, the Wildcats had four players lined up on their blueline but could not keep Urick from an open shot. Simon skated in front of Urick and headed out to the right, drawing junior defenseman Lee Ruff with him while also occupying Holly (who was stationed near the boards). Ruff turned too late as Urick split the gap between Ruff and sophomore defenseman Doug Schmidt, who flailed his stick in vain as Urick broke into the clear. With NMU senior center Buddy Smith unable to get into the play from the left side (after a line change), Urick had avoided the NMU foursome and lifted a backhanded shot over Ragusett's right shoulder for Urick's 15th goal of the season and the 56th of his career (11:25).
Frattaroli scored his eighth goal of the season at 16:57 of the opening period, on a play set up by Holly's pass to Mattersdorfer in the NMU end. Mattersdorfer carried the puck all the way into the slot before dropping a pass to his left. Frattaroli skated onto the puck before one-timing a shot into the far right corner of the net, with Karr guessing wrong as he looked for the low stick-side shot.
Holly capitalized on a shorthanded situation for his 12th goal of the season, with 0:22 left in the second period. Irish freshman center David Inman skated back to the puck and nudged it in the opposite direction before attempting a pass back into the NMU zone. But Inman skated past the puck and his stick never made contact. The lefthanded Holly alertly took the puck at the Irish blue line and slanted in from the right before holding the puck and beating Karr with a low forehand shot inside the far left post (19:38).
NOTES: Notre Dame's last 11 goals have come from nine different players: sophomore RW Ryan Dolder, senior LW Aniket Dhadphale (2), Inman (2), freshman C Brett Henning, Chipchase, sophomore RW Matt Van Arkel, Carlson, Urick and Simon ... Simon has factored in 10 of Notre Dame's 19 game-winning goals this season (3 GWG, 7 GWA), plus game-tying goals vs. Michigan and Michigan State S the Irish are 15-2-3 when scoring first, 12-1-2 with a first-intermission lead, 13-7-4 when outshooting the opponent, 19-7-5 when holding the opponent to 0-3 goals and 16-3-4 when Simon has at least one point S
AROUND THE CCHA: In other CCHA playoff action Friday, regular-season champion Michigan State trailed No 8 seed Lake Superior 1-0 midway through the second period before taking a 2-1 lead and then scoring with 1:27 left in regulation for a 3-2 win (LSSU's Jayme Platt had 36 saves in the loss) ... No. 2 seed Michigan rallied for a 3-2 win over No. 7 seed Bowling Green (Bobby Hayes' fourth goal of the season tied the game with 9:00 left while Dave Huntzicker's shorthanded won the game with 5:29 left) ... two of the CCHA's top scorers-BG's Dan Price and Adam Edinger-each had an assist but failed to scored (UM's Dale Rominski also had a SHG, tying the game in the first period) ... No. 3 seed Ohio State posted a 4-2 win over sixth seed Ferris State, behind goals from four different players and 23 saves by Jeff Maund.
NORTHERN MICHIGAN (19-13-5) 1 1 0 - 2 NOTRE DAME (19-12-5) 2 0 1 - 3
1ST: ND 1 .Carlson 7 (unassisted) 1:19;