CCHA playoff spot within reach as Irish keep focus on playoff home-ice
IT'S FUN TO PLAY IN THE CCHA: An exciting CCHA season currently finds Michigan State (14-2-5/33 pts) atop the standings, followed by Michigan (14-4-3/31) ... five points separate third from sixth: Ohio State (13-6-3/29), Notre Dame (12-6-2/26), Northern Michigan (11-8-3/22) and Ferris State (10-8-4/24) ... each of the above six teams has been ranked among the national top 10 this season ... Bowling Green (8-10-3/19) is seventh while Miami (5-13-4/14), Lake Superior (5-13-2/12), Alaska Fairbanks (5-16-1/11) and Western Michigan (2-13-6/10) are battling for the eighth CCHA tournament spot ... the top four teams will play host to first-round CCHA tournament series (March 12-14), with the winners advancing to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA semi-finals and finals (March 19-20).
CCHA LEADERS: The Irish lead the CCHA in overall power play pct. (.235, fourth in nation among major-conference teams behind Colorado College's .268, Denver's .252 and New Hampshire's .240) while ranking second in scoring (3.52 goals/gm), third in fewest penalty minutes (18.5/gm) and fifth in defense (2.60 goals allowed/gm) ... the surging Irish penalty-killing unit (29 stops in last 30) ranks seventh in the CCHA (.834) ... in conference games only, the Irish are first in scoring (3.60) and power play (.227), fourth in fewest penalty minutes (18.9) and fifth in defense (2.25) and penalty kill (.860) ... Notre Dame and Michigan (3rd, 4th) are the only CCHA teams ranked among the top five for conference PP and PK ... junior C Ben Simon ranks fifth in the CCHA for overall scoring (13G-21A) and stands tied for third in conference scoring (19-12) while senior RW Brian Urick (13-18/17-10) is seventh and tied for sixth (despite missing the last three games due to injury) ... senior G Forrest Karr ranks sixth in the CCHA for overall GAA (2.53) and fifth in conference GAA (2.26) ... senior LW Aniket Dhadphale is tied for seventh in the CCHA with 14 goals while Simon and Urick are tied for 11th (13) ... Simon's 21 assists stand fifth in the CCHA ... Dhadphale is tied for fourth in the CCHA with seven PPGs while Simon and Urick are tied for sixth with five PPGs each ... Urick is tied for third in the CCHA with four game-winning goals.
IRISH NOTES: Nine players have combined on the 15 Irish game-winning goals ... Notre Dame is 12-0-2 when playing with a 2nd-intermission lead, 10-4-2 when outshooting the opponent ... the Irish are 9-0-1 at home (48-17 scoring edge) and play five of the final 10 regular-season games at the Joyce Center ... the Irish are 12-2-1 in their last 15 home games, with a 66-27 scoring edge (losses to Ohio State and Michigan) ... the Irish power-play has scored on nine of its last 38 chances (.237), after an 0-for-17 slump ... Notre Dame shook up its top forward lines prior to the 4-3 win at No. 1 North Dakota ... senior LW Aniket Dhadphale and senior RW Brian Urick joined freshman C David Inman on the second (1B) line while sophomore LW Dan Carlson and junior RW Joe Dusbabek began skating alongside junior C Ben Simon on the 1A line (those lines then were jumbled due to Urick's Jan. 16 hand injury) ... the Irish are 15-3-2 when Simon has at least one point, 8-1-2 when he has two-plus points and 0-4-1 when he is held off the scoresheet (not counting the Jan. 15 UAF game that he missed due to CCHA suspension) ...the Irish are 11-1-1 when both Simon and Dhadphale make the scoresheet ... Notre Dame's top four D have combined to miss 26 games due to injury (three have missed five-plus) ... the Irish have played well in hostile arenas during the past two seasons, with road wins vs. every CCHA team but Miami during that stretch, a pair of victories at Wisconsin, a two-game sweep at St. Cloud State and a win at North Dakota ...Notre Dame raced out to its best start in 39 years of varsity hockey (6-0-0) and best conference start (5-0-0) in 19 seasons as a member of the WCHA ('71-'81) or CCHA ('81-'83, '92- ).
PLAYER NOTES: Senior D Benoit Cotnoir leads the team with 10 points (3G-7A) during the current 6-1-1 run ... senior RW Brian Urick's 13 career game-winning goals are tied for first in Irish history with current Irish head coach Dave Poulin ('78-'82) ... Urick has 116 points (54G-62A) in 133 career games ... senior LW Aniket Dhadphale (57G-42A) is one point shy of 100 career points and needs eight assists to join Urick as two of the 28 Irish players ever to total 50 goals and 50 assists ... junior C Ben Simon (13-21)who has assisted on six game-winning goals this season while scoring two otherscould flirt with 50 points this season, a mark reached just 25 times in Irish hockey history (last by Curtis Janicke in 1991-92) ... Simon is averaging nearly a point per game for his career (90 in 91 games) while his 13 goals this season match his total from his first two seasons (4 and 9) ... sophomore LW Dan Carlson missed the Jan. 2-3 split at No. 1 North Dakota while playing with Team USA at the World Junior Championship.
INJURY UPDATE: Senior RW and captain Brian Urick could return this week, after missing the last three games due to a crack bone in his hand (suffered late in the Jan. 16 UAF game) ... Urick has 116 career points (54-62A) while playing in 133 of the first 134 games of his careerincluding 74 straight ... the only previous game Urick had missed came on the heels of a game misconduct penalty vs. UAF on Jan. 18, 1997 (he was forced to sit out the Jan. 24 game vs. St. Cloud State, a 5-2 win) ...junior D Ryan Clark has missed the last nine games, after Dec. 23 shoulder surgery in his home state of Colorado, and remains out indefinitely while rehabilitating ... junior D Tyson Fraser returned last week vs. Michigan, after missing four games with nagging injuries.
THE ND-MSU SERIES: All three games of this year's series will be played in a 15-day span, with this week's game representing the first between the teams in nearly 15 months ... MSU holds a 39-29-4 series edge ... MSU's series lead at the Joyce Center is just 16-15-3 ... Notre Dame's 6-1 win at MSU on Nov. 1, 1997 snapped a 17-game Irish winless streak vs. the Spartans (0-14-3) ... MSU won last year's other two meetings, 5-1 at Notre Dame on Oct. 31 and 3-1 at home on Nov. 8 (last year's entire season series spanned just nine days and was over by the eighth game of the season) ... MSU beat Notre Dame 4-1 for the '81-'82 CCHA Tournament title (current Irish coach Dave Poulin was captain of that Notre Dame team) ... Notre Dame's top career scores in the MSU series include senior RW Brian Urick (9 gms, 2G-6A), senior LW Aniket Dhadphale (9, 4-1) and junior C Ben Simon (4, 3-1) ... senior G Forrest Karr has just one career appearance vs. MSU, when he played the final 9:35 of last year's 5-1 loss (no goals allowed, two saves) ... the Irish have lost their last 12 games where the winning goal was scored in the final minute of regulation or overtime, including a 4-3 loss at Michigan State on Dec. 6, 1997, when Mark Loeding scored with 0:54 left in the third period.
RECAPPING LAST YEAR'S ND-MSU GAMES
MSU 5, @ND 1 (10/31/97) MSU posted the Halloween night win, as Tyler Harlton and Damon Whitten netted timely first goals of the season ... Notre Dame tied the game midway through the second period on Ben Simon's PP tip-in ... MSU struck first, at 6:58 of the first, when Bryan Adams capitalized on an Irish giveaway ... Harlton helped MSU regain the lead on a shot from the left point (13:20) ... Whitten scored less than three minutes later and Rustyn Dolyny struck early in the third (2:05) ... John Nail capped the scoring with his first goal of the season (10:25), slapping home a loose puck from the top of the right circle ... Chad Alban made 24 saves while Matt Eisler (28 saves) gave way to Forrest Karr (2) after Nail's goal.
ND 6, @MSU 1 (11/1/97) ND used a four-goal flurry in the third to pull away from then-No. 2-ranked MSU ... the Irish opened with a first-period PPG from Simon and Brian Urick's unassisted second-period goal ... the third-period flurry, covering 4:23, included two goals by Aniket Dhadphale, a score by Dan Carlson and Chad Chipchase's first collegiate goal ... the six goals were the most scored vs. since the final game of '95-'96 (UMass-Lowell, 6-2) ... Eisler made 32 saves while helping stop all seven MSU power plays (Alban had 14, John Gresl 3).
@MSU 3, ND 1 (11/8/970 Rustyn Dolyny scored a rebound goal with 3:43 left to play and Sean Berens added an empty-netter ... the Irish forced a 1-1 tie in the first period, on Lyle Andrusiak's rising wrist shot at the end of a PP chance ... MSU opened to a 1-0 lead on Shawn Horcoff's early PPG ... Eisler had 32 saves, Alban 14.
SPARTANS NOTES: Michigan State (20-3-5, 14-2-5 CCHA) is ranked No. 4 in the national polls and riding a 15-game unbeaten streak (12-0-3), after a 3-3 tie last week vs. Michigan ... MSU returned 20 of 25 letterwinners from its 1997-98 team that went 33-6-5, won the CCHA regular season (21-5-4) and postseason titles and advance to the NCAA quarterfinals ... MSU's tops losses from last season included All-America G and CCHA player of the year Chad Alban (31-4-5, 1.63 GAA, .922 save pct.), C Sean Berens (36G-19A) and D Tyler Harlton (1G-12A) ... MSU leads the CCHA in penalty-killing pct. (.919) and defense (1.32 goals allowed/gm) while ranking fourth in scoring (3.18 goals/gm) and seventh in power-play pct. (.135), with the league's fourth-most penalties minutes/gm (21-57) ... senior C Mike York is the CCHA's fourth-leading overall scorer (16G-19A), with other top scorers including junior Shawn Horcoff (11-15), senior Bryan Adams (15-8) and sophomore Rustyn Dolyny (11-12) ... freshman Joe Blackburn (13-3-5) has logged 1,284 minutes in the nets and owns a CCHA-bests 1.40 GAA and .930 save. pct. ... junior John Gresl is 7-0-0 in 420 minutes of action, with a 1.09 GAA and .949 save pct. ... MSU's losses: @OSU (2-3), @Michigan (1-2) and @Minnesota (1-2), with ties vs. WMU (1-1), OSU (4-4), @BG (2-2) and @NMU (1-1).
FRIEND OR FOE?: Several Notre Dame and MSU players are former teammates: ND senior C Craig Hagkull and MSU senior LW (Mark Loeding Des Moines Buccaneers) ... Irish junior D Nathan Borega and MSU sophomore LW Sean Patchel (Vernon Vipers) ... ND junior RW John Dwyer and MSU senior D Jeff Kozakowski (Dubuque Fighting Saints) ... Irish junior D Tyson Fraser and MSU junior C Sean Horcoff (Team British Columbia) ... ND junior C Ben Simon and MSU senior D Chris Bogas (Team Ohio) ... Simon and MSU senior C Mike York (U.S. silver-medal-winning team at '96-'97 World Juniors) ... Simon, York and Irish junior RW Joe Dusbabek (U.S. fifth-place world junior team in '97-'98) ... Irish sophomore LW Dan Carlson and MSU freshman F Adam Hall and freshman G Joe Blackburn ('98-'99 USA junior national team) ... ND freshman C Brett Henning and four freshman MSU playersHall, D Jon Insana, D Andrew Hutchinson and F Joe Goodenow ('97-'98 USA under-18 national team) ... and Irish senior G Forrest Karr and MSU junior G Mike Gresl (youth hockey teammates).
THE ND-UAF SERIES: UAF leads its all-time series with ND 12-8-0, but the Irish have won six of the last eight, including a sweep at home last Jan. 15-16 (6-2, 6-1) ... senior RW Brian Urick had a memorable first career CCHA game at UAF on Oct. 19, 1995, scoring four goals in the 7-4 Irish win (UAF came back to win the series 6-4, 6-4) ... Urick has 10 goals and six assists in 11 career games vs. UAF ... other top Irish scorers in the UAF series include: senior D Benoit Cotnoir (10 gms, 2G-11A), junior C Ben Simon (7, 2-8) and senior LW Aniket Dhadphale (9, 5-4) ... UAF sixth-year head coach Dave Laurion and Irish fourth-year head coach Dave Poulin were classmates and roommates on the 1978-82 Notre Dame hockey teams ... Laurion is just 1-5-0 vs. Notre Dame at his old home rink (the Joyce Center).
RECAPPING THE JAN. 15-16 ND-UAF GAMES
@ND 6, UAF 2 Aniket Dhadphale and Dan Carlson both scored twice as Notre Dame overcame the absence of Ben Simon (delayed CCHA suspension), Tyson Fraser (injury) and Ryan Clark (shoulder surgery) ... UAF scored in the first two minutes before falling behind 5-1 ... 10 Notre Dame players recorded points while the Irish outshot the visitors 43-22 and converted on 3-of-7 power-play chances ... freshman Brett Henning (1G-1A), the usual third-line center, did a solid job filling in for Simon on both the first forward line and first power-play unit ... the other Irish goal came from Chad Chipchase.
@ND 6, UAF 1 Notre Dame lost Aniket Dhadphale to an early hitting-from-behind penalty and ensuing game misconduct ejection but several players responded with multiple-point nights, among them Chipchase (2G-1A) and four players with 1G-1A: Simon, Brian Urick, Joe Dusbabek and Matt Van Arkel ... assists from Dan Carlson, Henning, Benoit Cotnoir and Sean Seyferth rounded out the scoring ... eight players combined to score the 12 Notre Dame goals in the series, 13 had at least one point ... Forrest Karr made 21 saves for the win ... despite Dhadphale's penalty, the Irish quickly turned the momentum thanks to Simon's fifth PPG of the season and Urick's first career SHG.
SCOUTING UAF: The Nanooks (8-17-1, 5-16-1), coming off a 2-3/2-2 home series with Northern Michigan, are battling for the eighth and final CCHA playoff spot, as they currently stand 10th, one point behind Lake Superior and two behind Miami ... UAF returned 20 of 23 letterwinners from its 1997-98 team that went 10-21-4 and finished 10th in the CCHA (7-20-3) ... top returning UAF scorers include junior RW Sjon Wynia (13G-16A), senior LW Chris Kirwan (13-9) and junior C Kerry Hafele (4-17) ... top scorers this season include sophomore RW Jim Lawrence (8-11) and Kirwan (9-7) ... senior Ian Perkins (7-12-1) has logged 1231 minutes in the nets for UAF, with a 3.56 GAA and .900 save pct. ... his classmate Chris Marvel has totaled 331 minutes (1-5-0, 3.81, .884) ... UAF's stat rankings in the CCHA: scoring (9th, 2.62 goals/gm), defense (9th, 3.65 goals allowed/gm), power-play pct. (11th, .101), penalty-killing pct. (10th, .814) and fewest penalty minutes (4th, 19.0/gm) .
FRIEND OR FOE, II?: Several current players from Notre Dame and Alaska-Fairbanks played together on previous teams ... they include: Notre Dame junior D Nathan Borega and UAF junior RW Sjon Wynia (Vernon Vipers), Borega and UAF sophomore RW Scott McIlroy (Anchorage Northstars), and Irish junior D Sean Molina and UAF senior D Mike Jaros (USA Viking Cup).
BLUE-LINE BOOST: Senior D Benoit Cotnoir is Notre Dame's leading scorer during the current 6-1-1 run, with 10 points (3G-7A), after totaling just one goal and nine points in his first 15 games played ... Cotnoir's highlights in the recent run include two assists in the 4-3 win at No. 1 North Dakota, two goals in the 4-1 win at Bowling Green and the 4-on-4 goal that gave Notre Dame a 2-0 lead in eventual 3-2 win over then-No. 5 Michigan.
IRISH TOP MICHIGAN FOR ANOTHER BIG WIN: Last week's 3-2 win over Michigan gives the Irish an impressive 4-2-2 record vs. national top-10 ranked opponents this season ... junior C Ben Simon and senior D Benoit Cotnoir gave the Irish an early 2-0 lead while senior LW Aniket Dhadphale scored the game-winning PPG with five minutes left ... senior G Forrest Karr made 26 saves and led a PK unit that stopped all eight Michigan PP chances.
HOME IS WHERE THE DOMINANCE IS: Notre Dame's 9-0-1 record at home this season has included a 48-17 scoring edge, led by junior C Ben Simon (8G-12A, +14), senior RW Brian Urick (7-11, +16), sophomore LW Dan Carlson (5-7, +5), senior RW Aniket Dhadphale (7-3, +6) and sophomore LW Chad Chipchase (7-2, +7) ... the Irish home dominance has included a .136 shooting pct. (one goal every 7.4 shots), a .246 power-play unit (14-for-57), a +12.3 average shot margin (35.3-23.0) ... defensively, senior Forrest Karr has played all 605 home minutes in the nets, with a 1.69 GAA, .926 save pct. and .868 team penalty-killing pct. (46-for-53).
IN A ZONE: After failing to score on its first 33 shots vs. Miami on Jan. 9, Notre Dame scored two goals in each of eight straight periods: vs. Miami (1), UAF (6) and at NMU (1) ... in its last 16 periods, the Irish have 21 goals.
LETTING IT FLY: Since returning to CCHA action, Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 25-12 and outshot the opposition 232-172 (average of 33-25) during the last seven games.
SPECIAL TEAMS SURGE: The renewed Irish power play had converted 8-of-27 power-play chances (.296) before going 0-for-5 in the loss at Lake Superior and 1-for-6 vs. Michigan ... the surging Notre Dame penalty-killing unit has stopped 29 of 30 opponent PPs (.967) in the last six games.
IRON MEN: Just four Irish skaters (plus senior G Forrest Karr) have appeared in all 25 games this season: freshman C's David Inman and Brett Henning, sophomore LW Chad Chipchase and junior D Andy Jurkowski.
NEARING THE CENTURY MARK: Senior LW Aniket Dhadphale's goal last week vs. Michigan leaves him one point shy of 100 for his career (57G-42A, 127 gms) after a sophomore slump (5G-16A), Dhadphale has 58 points in 62 games over the past two seasons (39G-19A) his shooting pct. as a sophomore was .046 (5G, 109 shots), compared to .217 last season (25, 136) and .233 this season (14, 60) his 23 career PPGs rank 8th in Notre Dame history, one behind former All-American Brian Walsh (1973-77) ... just four Irish players ever have totaled more than 25 career PPGs.
SIMON ALSO CHARGING TO 100: Junior C Ben Simon suddenly is nearing 100 career points as well, with 90 in 91 career games (26G-64A) ... Simon, who has equaled his goal total from his first two seasons (13), has scored two game-winning goals this season while assisting on six others (including last week's 3-2 win over Michigan).
TWO BELLS: Dhadphale notched just his second multiple-goal game of the season in the Jan. 15 win over UAF (he had his first career hat trick vs. Bowling Green on Nov. 13) he has 10 career multiple-goal games, including six as a junior and two as a freshman.
PP EXPERT: Senior D Benoit Cotnoir has been a vital part of Notre Dame's power play throughout his career Cotnoir has set up PP scores by 17 different Irish teammates over the past four seasons, including 11 by classmate Aniket Dhadphale in 128 career games, Cotnoir owns 35 career PP assists to go along with nine PPGs his 44 career PP points account for 54% of his career point total (82) while 63% of his career assists have come on the PP (35 of 56) in the last two seasons, Cotnoir has 22 PP points (5G-22A) and just 19 non-PP points during that stretch.
FROM THE BLUE LINE: Cotnoir's 82 career points (25G-57A) rank ninth in Notre history among defensmen, seven behind All-American Bill Nyrop (17-72, '70-'74) ... Cotnoir needs 18 more points to become the sixth Irish defenseman ever to reach 100 career points.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH?: Junior RW Joe Dusbabek is looking to rediscover his freshman-season scoring touch that produced a team-best 13 goals and helped him finish as runner-up for CCHA Rookie of the Year since that high-scoring rookie season (13G-12A, 35 games), Dusbabek has just four goals and 21 points over his last 43 games (1G-4A in the last five) ... Dusbabek has provided some clutch assists this season, including helpers on both goals in the 2-2 tie with Michigan and the primary assist on Ben Simon's goal that opened last week's 3-2 win over the Wolverines.
DISCIPLINED AGGRESSION: Junior D Nathan Borega epitomizes Notre Dame's philosophy of playing hard-hitting hockey while limiting penalty minutes the 6-2, 225-pound Borega has made a name for himself as one of the hardest hitters in the CCHA yet has totaled just seven penalties in 17 games played this season for his career, Borega has totaled just 54 penalties in 86 games, including 23 in 45 games over the past two seasons Notre Dame has ranked among the least-penalized teams in the CCHA for the past three seasons, averaging 8.69 penalties/gm in 1996-97, 6.37 last season and 8.44 this season (compared to a league-worst 11.31 in the first season of the Dave Poulin era, 1995-96).
MOLINA, JURKOWSKI STEP UP: Junior Ds Sean Molina and Andy Jurkowski have been two of the more unsung heroes for Notre Dame this season both players have helped bolster an Irish defense that has been forced to cope with the loss of 1998 CCHA Rookie of the Year Mark Eaton (a free agent signee by the Philadelphia Flyers) and repeated injuries to the top four defensemen ... they also have helped put the Irish on pace for a team-record goals-against average (currently 2.57) ... Molina has four assists in 23 games played, is tied for fifth on the team in plus-minus (+8) and has totaled just six penalties ...Jurkowski, who also has played LW during his Irish career, is one of just four Irish skaters who have appeared in all 25 games and has totaled just six penalties in 25 games this season (he also provided an assist on Ben Simon's opening goal to help beat Michigan last week, 3-2).
WHO'S HOT: Junior C Ben Simon (9 pts in last 7 gms, pts in 19 of 24 gms) ... sophomore LW Chad Chipchase (5 pts in last 6 gms) ... senior RW Brian Urick (three straight 2-pt gms) ... senior D Benoit Cotnoir (10 pts in last 8 gms) ... sophomore LW Dan Carlson (6 pts in last 7 gms).
WHO'S DUE: Freshman C David Inman (0 gls in last 7 gms, 1 pt in last 6 gms) ... freshman D Sam Cornelius (0 pts in last 15 gms, one in last 20) ... junior D Andy Jurkowski (1 pt in last two seasons, 38 gms) ... junior LW Jay Kopischke (1 pt/0 gls since Oct. 24, 13 gms played) ... junior C Troy Bagne (1 pt since Oct. 10, 18 gms played; 1 gl in last 37 gms) ... junior D Sean Molina (0 goals in 95 career gms).
CALLING ALL KARRS: Notre Dame senior Forrest Karr was named CCHA defensive player of the week after a 48-save performance on Jan. 8 at Bowling Green (4-1, 26 svs) and Jan. 9 at home vs. Miami (2-0, 22, second career shutout) ... Karr allowed just one goal (a second-period PPG by BG) while directing a defense that killed nine of 10 opponent PPs ... Karr owns a 2.53 season GAA that is on pace to best the Notre Dame record of 2.70, set last season by four-year starter Matt Eisler, while Karr's .902 season save pct. ranks third in Irish history ... Karr is the fifth Irish goalie ever to post multiple shutouts and is the first to post two in the same season (he had 16 saves in the 3-0 win over No. 9 Ohio State on Oct. 23) ... during the last seven games, Karr has 154 saves and 12 goals allowed, for a 1.71 GAA and .927 save pct. ... in 25 games overall, Karr has allowed just 33 even-strength goals ... for his career, Karr is 23-18-4 while his 21-10-4 mark over the past two seasons includes a 12-8-2 road record and a 5-3-2 record vs. top-10 teams ... his 2.98 career GAA is on pace to shatter Eisler's Notre Dame record (3.66) while Karr's .887 career save pct. is ahead of the Irish record held by John Peterson (.885, 1974-78) ... Karr also earned CCHA defensive player of the week honors on Oct. 11 (43 saves, one even-strength goal allowed in wins over Lake Superior and Western Michigan).
A ROAD-TESTED KARR: Karr also owns a solid 2.67 GAA during the past two seasons (90 GA; 2,026:25) while his impressive effort on the road during the past two seasons has yielded a 12-8-2 record and a 3.07 GAA (63 GA, 1,232:16) ... his career record vs. top-10 ranked teams is 6-4-2, including this season's 5-5 tie at former No. 1 Boston College, a 2-2 tie vs. then-No.7 Michigan, a 1-0 loss at then-No. 8 UM, a split at No. 1 North Dakota (1-8, 4-3) and a 3-2 win over No. 5 UM ... like many of his teammates, Karr has a history of playing well in hostile arenas, with wins at Wisconsin the past two seasons, three career wins at Bowling Green, a win over Ohio State as a junior at the Ohio Expo Center, and solid efforts this season at Boston College (5-5), Michigan (0-1, 25 saves) and North Dakota (4-3, 35 saves).
SHARPSHOOTER: Sophomore LW Chad Chipchase has nearly doubled his goalscoring output from last season (5) by scoring nine goals on just 35 shots this season, for a team-best .257 shooting pct. (the rest of the team is shooting .109) Chipchase owns a solid .219 career shooting pct. (14-for-64), after burying five of 29 shots as a freshman.
SIMON THE SCORER: Junior C Ben Simonwho has points in 19 of 24 games this season and has matched the combined goal total from his first two seasons (13)ranks fifth in the CCHA overall scoring charts (13G-21A) while his 28 points in CCHA play (12-16) are tied for third ... Simon scored a memorable goal 17 seconds into the third period of the 7-1 win over Western Michigan on Oct. 10, slanting in from the right and tucking the puck inside the left post for his first goal in 13 games (he had endured 31 shots on net without a goal) ... Simon has excelled at setting up his teammates (64 assists in 91 career games) but owns just 25 career goals on 245 shots (9.8 shots per goal), with the goal vs. WMU signaling a breakthrough goalscoring season for the player who totaled 166 goals in four prep seasons (including 45 goals in 50 games as a senior with the Cleveland Jr. Barons) ... Simon is scoring a goal every 5.5 shots he takes this season (13 on 71), compared to 13.4 shots per goal during his first two seasons (13 on 174).
HOME IMPROVEMENT: After a 3-6-3 start at home in '97-'98 (outscored 39-31), Notre Dame finished strong at home, going 3-2-0 in its final five home games with an 18-12 scoring edge ... the Irish have extended that strong play at home, going 9-0-1 at the Joyce Center this season with a 48-17 scoring edge ... in its last 15 home games, Notre Dame is 12-2-1 with a 66-27 scoring edge (two 7-1 wins, a 9-5 win) ... the recent home losses came last season to eventual NCAA champ Michigan (1-0, goal in first minute) and eventual NCAA semifinalist Ohio State (5-3) while the tie was vs. Michigan this season (2-2) ... Notre Dame's last 12 home wins have included eight by three goals or more (7-1 vs. FSU, 5-2 vs. NMU, 7-1 vs. WMU, 3-0 vs. OSU, 6-2 vs. BG, 9-5 vs. WMU, 6-2/6-1 vs. UAF).
FRESHMEN MAKE IMPACT: Notre Dame's freshman class has made its mark on the 1998-99 season, with second-line center David Inman ranking sixth on the team with 15 points (7G-8A) ... despite a current scoring slump and 44 penalty minutes (second-most on the team), Inman has provided timely plays for the Irish, with one game-winning goal, two power-play goals and a +4 plus-minus ratio ... third-line C Brett Henning has 3G-6A, just 22 penalty minutes, one PPG and is +2 ... Henning filled in for junior Ben Simon as the first-line center for the Jan. 15 UAF game and responded with a goal and assist ... he added an assist the next night vs. UAF en route to CCHA rookie-of-the-week honors ... Inman and Henning and two of just four Irish skaters who have appeared in all 25 games ... D Sam Cornelius has played all but one game while totaling 1G-3A, just 16 penalty minutes and a -7 plus/minus ratio ... like many of his fellow defensemen, Cornelius has played a large part in Notre Dame's defensive success despite repeated injury problems to the unit's veteran players ... Inman, Henning and Cornelius have combined for 28 points in 25 games, with just 37 penalties between them and a -1 combined plus/minus ratio ... freshman G Jeremiah Kimento has been impressive in his limited work as backup to senior Forrest Karr ... Kimento has a 2.71 GAA and .925 save pct. in 89 minutes of work (49 saves, four goals against).
CARLSON RETURNS: Notre Dame sophomore LW Dan Carlson (Edina, Minn.) represented the USA at the World Junior Championship, Dec. 26-Jan. 4 in six Manitoba cities ... the USA opened with 6-3 losses to Finland and the Czech Republic before dropping a tough 3-2 game to Slovakia and beating rival Canada, 5-2 ... the USA wrapped up play with wins over Switzerland (5-4) and Belarus (7-2), with Carlson scoring a key tying goal (4-4) in the win over Switzerland ... Irish freshman C David Inman (Toronto, Ont.)who owns joint citizenshipwas among the final four players cut from the squad ... Carlson missed Notre Dame's series at No. 1 North Dakota ... current Notre Dame junior forwards Ben Simon and Joe Dusbabek were members of last year's U.S. junior team, with Simon also skating on the 1996-97 U.S. team that claimed the World Junior silver medal in Switzerland ... the final junior national team roster included 14 current college players (six from the CCHA).
1-2-3: Notre Dame has received steady production in all three periods, with 25 goals in the first, 31 in the second and 32 in the third ... during the first six games, the Irish owned an 8-1 scoring edge in the first (now 25-16 overall) ... the Irish also own a 31-20 edge in the second period but have struggled defensively in the third, with just a 32-29 ratio (compared to 56-36 over the first two periods) ... in '97-'98, Notre Dame owned a 37-27 first-period scoring edge and went 11-4-1 in games with a first-intermission lead ... the Irish were even more dominant last season in the second period (51-35) but lost five games when leading at the second intermission (16-5-2), due in large part to being outscored 49-37 in the final period.
WE NEED MORE POWER: Notre Dame's power play opened at .321 clip but the Irish were just 4-for-38 (.105) during a recent six-game stretch, including 0-for-17 at one point, before connecting on nine of their last 35 man-up chances ... the overall PP pct. (.235) would rank best by an Irish team playing as a member of the CCHA or WCHA since the 1981-82 season (.303) and would best the CCHA-best effort by Michigan State in '97-'98 (.233) .... for comparison, Notre Dame owned just a .127 PP pct. in '96-'97 and a .176 mark last season ... PP goals have helped provide the decisive margin this season in wins over FSU (5-3, 2 PPGs), LSSU (4-3, 4 PPGs), Northeastern (4-3, 3 PPGs) and Michigan (3-2, a PPG) while the Irish netted three PPGs in the 5-5 tie at Boston College ... 10 different Irish players have notched a PPG this season, led by seven from senior LW Aniket Dhadphale and five each from senior RW Brian Urick and junior C Ben Simon ... the other PPGs have come from sophomore LW Dan Carlson (3), freshman C David Inman (2), sophomore LW Chad Chipchase (2), sophomore RW Matt Van Arkel (3), junior RW Joe Dusbabek (2), senior D Benoit Cotnoir and freshman C Brett Henning ... the primary PP unit has included Dhadphale, Simon and Urick, with Carlson and either Cotnoir or junior D Tyson Fraser at the point ... that first unit has 22 PPGs, with Dusbabek scoring with the first group at Lake Superior (while Simon was in the penalty box) and Chipchase scoring vs. Ferris State (while skating for the injured Dhadphale).
SCHEDULE OF CHAMPIONS: Notre Dame's 1998-99 schedule includes five teams that have combined for seven of the first nine NCAA titles during the 1990s: Wisconsin (1990), Northern Michigan ('91), Lake Superior ('92, '94), Michigan ('96, '98) and North Dakota ('97) ... the Irish do not face recent NCAA champs Maine ('93) or Boston University ('95) this season.
DUDE LOOKS LIKE A SCORER: Senior LW Aniket Dhadphale (pronounced Uh-NEE-kett Dod-FALL-ee) has become one of the most well-knownand often mispronouncednames in the CCHA due to his scoring prowess ... with pronunciations ranging from Dudepole to Daffapail, Dhadphale has kept P.A. announcers on their toes by totaling 39 goals and 19 assists during the past two seasons (62 games).
STREAKY SEASON: Notre Dame opened with a six-game winning streak and had a mid-season six game losing streak before the recent six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1).
REDEFINING MAN DOWN: During its last 37 games, Notre Dame has played without at least one of its top defensemen 32 times, going 18-11-3 in those games (four losses to Michigan, three to OSU, one to North Dakota) ... the top four defensemen have missed a combined 26 games this season due to injury, yet the Irish remain in the national polls and are on pace to set the school record for GAA (2.57) ... Notre Dame is 2-2-1 in the only games during the last 36 when senior Benoit Cotnoir, juniors Tyson Fraser and Nathan Borega and sophomore Ryan Clark all have been in the lineup (6-2 vs. BG, 2-2 vs. Michigan, 9-5 vs. WMU, 3-4 and 1-4 at OSU) ... the games missed by Irish D in the last 36 games: Cotnoir (2, early this season), Fraser (17, 5 this season), Borega (15, 8 to open this season) and Clark (11, all this season, out indefinitely for rest of '98-'99 ) ... two of those players have missed the same game 13 times over the last 36, with the Irish owning a solid 8-4-1 mark in those games ... lost in the defensive injury woes is the absence of '98 CCHA rookie of the year Mark Eaton, who passed up the rest of his college eligibility when he signed as a free agent in the summer with the Philadelphia Flyers.
RETURN OF THE ROAD WARRIORS: Notre Dame has proven to be unfazed by playing on the road in hostile arenas over the past two seasonsmost recently in the 5-5 tie at No. 1 Boston College, the 1-0 loss at Michigan and the 4-3 win at North Dakotaas the Irish are 18-17-2 away from home during that stretch, with the 17 losses including 10 by one goal ... in '97-'98, Notre Dame posted wins at St. Cloud (4-3/OT, 4-1), MSU (6-1), Wisconsin (4-2), NMU (3-1) and Michigan (4-2)in addition to losing three one-goal games at Michigan (two in OT) and one-goal games at Miami, FSU, UAF (OT) and LSSU (OT) ... after opening '98-'99 with a 2-1 win at Wisconsin's dedication game for the Kohl Center (which drew nearly 14,000 fans), the Irish posted wins at FSU (5-3) and LSSU (4-3)giving Notre Dame victories in every opposing CCHA building except Miami's Goggin Ice Arena over the past two seasons ... the Irish are 6-1-1 in non-conference away games during the past two seasons, winning twice at both St. Cloud and Wisconsin and once at Wisconsin, Northeastern and top-ranked North Dakota, plus a 5-5 tie at then-No. 1 Boston College.
GETTING COMPETITIVE: Notre Dame finished '97-'98 by going 4-4-0 in its final eight games vs. CCHA teams ... that stretch included a sweep of NMU (4-3, 3-1, 5-2), an OT loss at Lake Superior (2-1), a 4-2 win over Michigan and three one-goal losses to Michigan (1-0, 2-1 in OT and 4-3) ... the Irish held a 21-17 overall scoring edge in those games, allowing just 2.1 goals per game ... in its last 27 games vs. CCHA teams, Notre Dame is 15-10-2, including a 14-8-2 mark in the regular season.
URICK LEADS THE WAY: Senior RW and team captain Brian Urick is heading into the final stretch of his four-year career at Notre Dame ... Urick, who notched his 50th career goal and an assist in the series finale vs. WMU on Nov. 20, saw his early four-game goal streak ended vs. OSU (equaling his career-high) but he still has 31 points in 22 games (13G-18A) ... Urick leads the Irish in plus-minus (+23), has just 10 penalties and owns 54 goals and 62 assists in 133 career games ... Urick's first of two assists in the Nov. 13 Bowling Green game made him the 27th Notre Dame player to reach the 100-point plateau ... over the past two seasons, Urick has 65 points (29-36) in 63 games, a team-best +38, only 69 penalty minutes and nine of the team's 32 game-winning goals ... his 13 career game-winning goals ties Urick with current Irish head coach Dave Poulin (1978-82) for first in the Irish record book.
U.S. COLLEGE HOCKEY
ONLINE POLL (2/1)
Team (1st-pl. votes), W-L-T Pts
Others Receiving Votes: Ohio State 14, St. Lawrence 4, Rensselaer 3, Clarkson 2, Northern Michigan 1.
USA TODAY / AMERICAN HOCKEY MAGAZINE POLL (2/1)
1. North Dakota (27), 20-2-2 296 2. Maine (3), 19-2-4 264
3. New Hampshire, 21-4-1 233
4. Michigan State, 20-3-5 226
5. Colorado College, 17-8-1 162 6. Michigan, 17-6-4 136
7. Boston College, 16-8-2 130
8. Princeton, 14-4-1 89
9. NOTRE DAME, 15-7-3 70
10. Denver, 15-9-2 20
Team (1st-pl. votes), W-L-T Pts
1. North Dakota (10), 20-2-2 100
2. Maine, 19-2-4 86
3. New Hampshire, 21-4-1 80
4. Michigan State, 20-3-5 74
5. Colorado College, 17-8-1 53
6. Princeton, 13-4-1 47
7. Michigan, 17-6-4 44
8. Boston College, 16-8-2 34
9. NOTRE DAME, 15-7-3 20
10. Denver, 15-9-2 5
Others Receiving Votes: Rensselaer 3, Ohio State 2, St. Lawrence 1.
CCHA PRESEASON COACHES POLL
Team (1st-pl. votes), W-L-T Pts
1. Michigan (7) 117
2. Ohio State (3) 108
3. Michigan State (1) 104
4. Northern Michigan 79
NOTRE DAME 79
6. Ferris State 64
7. Miami 49
8. Bowling Green 45
9. Lake Superior 42
10. Western Michigan 24
11. Alaska Fairbanks 15
CCHA PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
1. Michigan 287
2. Ohio State 285
3. Michigan State 258
4. Northern Michigan 194
5. NOTRE DAME 189
6. Miami 153
7. Lake Superior 130
8. Ferris State 126
9. Bowling Green 94
10. Western Michigan 78
11. Alaska Fairbanks 52
'98-'99 CCHA Standings Overall CCHA Points GF-GA Power Play Penalty-Kill PIM/Gm
1. Michigan State 20-3-5 14-2-5 33 89-37 (7) .135 (1) .919 (8) 21.6
2. Michigan 17-6-4 14-4-3 31 79-57 (5) .152 (5) .859 (11) 25.4
3. Ohio State 15-10-4 13-6-3 29 89-70 (3) .181 (2) .891 (9) 22.7
4. Notre Dame 15-7-3 12-6-2 26 88-65 (1) .235 (7) .834 (3) 18.5
5. Northern Michigan 16-9-3 11-8-3 25 100-76 (4) .158 (4) .876 (6) 21.3
6. Ferris State 11-10-5 10-8-4 24 70-60 (10) .116 (3) .883 (1) 16.9
7. Bowling Green 12-12-3 8-10-3 19 87-99 (2) .190 (11) .810 (5) 20.3
8. Miami 7-16-5 5-13-4 14 75-98 (9) .123 (7) .834 (2) 17.1
9. Lake Superior State 6-17-5 5-13-2 12 60-93 (6) .135 (9) .818 (10) 24.5
10. Alaska Fairbanks 8-17-1 5-16-1 11 68-95 (11) .101 (10) .814 (4) 19.0
11. Western Michigan 3-16-6 2-13-6 10 47-105 (8) .126 (6) .845 (7) 21.4