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    Irish Get Set To Close Out Regular Season Against The Michigan State Spartans.

    FIGHTING IRISH Junior right wing Kevin Nugent and his Notre Dame teammates will look to get back on the winning track against Michigan State.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Junior right wing Kevin Nugent and his Notre Dame teammates will look to get back on the winning track against Michigan State.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Feb. 23, 2012

    Notre Dame, Ind. -

    Game NotesGet Acrobat Reader

    • The Games: rv/#18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-15-3/11-12-3-0) vs. #14/#13 Michigan State Spartans (18-12-4/13-10-3-2)

    • Date/Site/Time: Friday, February 24, 2012 • Compton Family Ice Arena (5,022) • 8:37 p.m.

    Saturday, February 25, 2012 • Compton Family Ice Arena (5,022) • 7:38 p.m.

    • Broadcast Information: Radio: Notre Dame hockey can be heard live on Real Country 99.9 FM, starting with the pre-game show 20 minutes before the opening face off. Darin Pritchett will call the action for the Irish. Television: Friday's game versus Michigan State will be televised by CBS Sports Network with Ben Holden and Jim Paradise calling the action. On Saturday, the Irish and the Spartans will be televised by Comcast with Ben Holden, Sean Ritchlin and Art Regner handling the play-by-play and color analysis.

    • Internet: Audio: Notre Dame will provide live audio for both games of the Michigan State series on the Notre Dame website at UND.com. Twitter: Follow the Irish hockey team on Twitter at ND_hockey.

    WHERE DID THE SEASON GO?: Notre Dame and Michigan State meet for the first time this season on the final weekend of the 2011-12 CCHA schedule - Friday and Saturday, February 24-25 - at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Friday's game will start at 8:37 p.m. as part of a CBS Sports Network doubleheader that features Miami and Ohio State in the early game. Ben Holden and Jim Paradise will call the action in that contest. On Saturday, Notre Dame will honor its senior class on "Senior Night," with opening face off set for 7:38 p.m. That game will be carried live on Comcast and can be seen in the South Bend area on Comcast Cable Channel 3. Ben Holden, Sean Ritchlin and Art Regner will call the action. Notre Dame enters the weekend series on a five-game losing streak that started on Feb. 4 versus Bowling Green. The Irish are now 16-15-3 overall and 11-12-3-0 in the CCHA, good for 36 points and a tie for eighth place with Northern Michigan. The Irish and Wildcats will be looking to grab that final home-ice spot in next weekend's best-of-three, CCHA first round playoffs. Notre Dame has the tiebreaker with Northern (league wins, 11-9) so the Irish will be looking for any combination of six points (Irish wins or ties and Northern losses and ties) to clinch the final home spot. Notre Dame can finish as high as sixth place in the standings and as low as ninth. Michigan State enters the weekend having won five of its last six games and is now 18-12-3 overall and 13-10-3-2 in the conference for 44 points and fourth place. The Spartans are looking to lock up a first-round bye and home ice in the second round. They can finish as high as second and as low as seventh in the standings.

    IRISH VERSUS SPARTANS: Notre Dame and Michigan State meet for the first time this season. A year ago, the two teams met twice at the Joyce Center in November with the Irish taking 6-2 and 4-2 decisions. The teams have met 108 times in the all-time series (Notre Dame has only played Michigan more - 127 times) with the Spartans holding a 59-38-11 advantage in the series. The Irish have a 22-21-7 mark at home against Michigan State. Despite the lopsided advantage in the all-time series, since 2007-08, Notre Dame is 7-0-3 versus the Spartans. The last time the Irish lost to MSU was Jan. 11, 2008, a 3-1 loss at Munn Arena. The last time the Spartans won at Notre Dame was Feb. 3, 2006, a 3-2 win at the Joyce Center. Since then, the Irish are 5-0-1 against MSU at home.

    RANKINGS: Notre Dame enters the series with Michigan State receiving votes in the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine poll and is 18th the USCHO.com poll. This is the first week in 20 this season that the Irish are not part of the USA Today poll. Michigan State enters the week ranked 14th by USA Today and 13th in the USCHO.com poll.

    SENIOR NIGHT: Notre Dame will honor its senior class of 2012 and the players and manager's parents on the ice prior to the start of the game with Michigan State. The Irish have six senior players - Nick Condon (Wausau, Wis.), Patrick Gaul (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Eric Ringel (Hinckley, Ohio), Sean Lorenz (Littleton, Colo.), Billy Maday (Burr Ridge, Ill.) and Richard Ryan (Toronto, Ont.). They will be joined by senior manager Joe Baroz (Staten Island, N.Y.) in being honored on Saturday.

    DOWN TO THE WIRE: Here's how the CCHA race stacks up going into this weekend's final regular-season action:

    
                                   PTS      GP
    1.  Ferris State  ##		53	26
    2.  Michigan $                  47	26
    3.  Western Michigan            45      26
    4.  Michigan State              44	26
    5.  Miami                       42	26
    6.  Lake Superior               41	26
    7.  Ohio State                  39	26
    8.  Notre Dame                  36	26
        Northern Michigan           36	26
    

    ## Clinched a share of first place; clinched first-round bye and home ice in second round.

    $ Clinched first-round bye and home ice in second round of CCHA playoffs.

    GAMES REMAINING:
    Ferris State:      at WMU, vs. WMU
    Michigan:          at BGSU (2)
    Western Michigan:  vs. FSU, at FSU
    Michigan State:    at ND (2)
    Miami:             vs. OSU, at OSU
    Lake Superior:     at NMU (2)
    Ohio State:        at Miami, vs. Miami
    Notre Dame:        vs. MSU (2)
    No. Michigan:      vs. LSSU (2)
    

    CCHA TIEBREAKERS: 1. Conference wins 2. Best regular-season winning percentage against the other team(s) tied for position 3. Total goals for and against each team in contests between (among) teams tied for position in regular-season play 4. Best winning percentage of the teams tied for position against the remaining highest-ranked CCHA teams 5. Coin Toss

    Shootout results will not be used to break ties in the standings for playoff positioning.

    COLD, HARD FACTS: Scoring goals has been a struggle for the Irish, especially in the second half of the season. In the month of February, Notre Dame has a 1-5-0 record. In those six games, the Irish have scored just six goals and have been shutout twice. This season, when the Irish score two goals or less in a game, they are 1-13-3. When Notre Dame scores three goals or more in a game, the Irish are 15-3-0. The last time that Notre Dame had three or more goals in a game was on Jan. 28, a 4-2 win at Alaska. The last four goals that Notre Dame has scored (over the last five games) have come on the power play. The last even-strength goal by the Irish came on Feb. 3 at 5:45 of the third period when Nick Larson (Jr., Apple Valley, Minn.) scored the game winner in a 2-1 win against Bowling Green. Notre Dame has now played 314:15 (five-plus games) without a five-on-five goal.

    MIAMI RECAP: Friday, Feb. 17 - Senior goaltender Connor Knapp stopped all 31 shots he faced as Miami shutout Notre Dame, 3-0, at the Steve Cady Ice Arena. Blake Coleman, Reilly Smith and Tyler Biggs provided the scoring as the Irish were shutout for the second time in three games despite out shooting the RedHawks, 31-16 on the night. Mike Johnson (Jr., Verona, Wis.) made 13 saves in the Notre Dame goal. The loss was the fourth in a row for the Irish. Miami got the only goal it would need at 2:08 of the first period when Coleman whipped a quick shot from the bottom of the left circle that slipped through Johnson's pads for his ninth of the season. Notre Dame carried the play in the second period, out shooting Miami, 15-8, but the RedHawks got the only goal. Smith jumped on the rebound of a shot by Biggs and backhanded a shot from the top of the crease past Johnson for his CCHA-leading 22nd goal of the season at 4:19 of the middle period for a 2-0 lead. Biggs would close out the scoring with an empty-net goal with 2:09 left in the game. Both teams were 0-for-2 with the power play.

    Saturday, Feb. 18 - For the second night in a row, Miami got strong goaltending from senior Connor Knapp and a strong all-around offensive effort as the RedHawks handed the Irish a 4-1 loss at Steve Cady Arena. Reilly Smith, Trent Vogelhuber, Cody Murphy with two goals took care of the scoring and Knapp stopped 27-of-28 Irish shots for his second win of the weekend. Notre Dame broke a long scoreless drought on a Billy Maday power-play goal to start the third period. Notre Dame out shot the RedHawks, 28-26, on the night. Mike Johnson made 22 saves for the Irish. The loss was the fifth straight for the Irish. The RedHawks got on the scoreboard first as Smith picked up his 23rd goal of the season on the power play at 5:12. With Austin Wuthrich (Fr., Anchorage, Alaska) off for boarding, Jimmy Mullin fed the puck to Tyler Biggs at the bottom of the left circle. Biggs spun and directed a shot on goal that Mike Johnson stopped. The rebound bounced out in the crease and Smith, the CCHA's top sniper tucked it inside the right post to give Miami the 1-0 lead. The RedHawks made it 2-0 at 16:48 on one-man effort by Vogelhuber. The senior center blocked a Notre Dame shot in the right circle and raced down the ice. With Biggs driving down the left side, Vogelhuber held the puck before rifling a wrist shot over Johnson's glove for his third of the season to give Miami the 2-0 lead. The second period belonged to the goaltenders as Knapp and Johnson each made 12 saves in the middle period. Notre Dame had plenty of good chances, getting four power-plays in the second period but failed to capitalize. The Irish opened the third period with a 5-on-3 power play and finally broke through on Knapp in the Miami goal as Maday picked up his ninth goal of the season just 58 seconds into the third. With the two-man advantage, the Irish worked the puck around the perimeter with T.J. Tynan (So., Orland Park, Ill.) firing a shot on goal from the high slot. The puck went through a screen in front by David Gerths (So., Ankeny, Iowa) but Knapp was there to make the stop. Gerths tried to jam the rebound in but it bounced to the left where Maday got his stick on the puck and lifted it over Knapp's pads for the goal to make it 2-1. The marker was the first for the Irish since a Riley Sheahan (Jr., St. Catharine's, Ont.) power-play goal at 19:54 of the first period of the Feb. 11 game at Ferris State, a span of 141:04 without a goal. Soon after the Irish score, Miami was able to take advantage of a 5-on-3 of its own as the Irish were whistled for three consecutive minor penalties over a three-minute span. Murphy restored the two-goal lead at 4:28 when he snapped a wrist shot past Johnson from the bottom of the right circle off assists from Cameron Schilling and Alden Hirschfeld. Murphy would close the scoring with his second goal of the night and the season when he beat Johnson through a screen with a shot from the left point at 13:32 for the 4-1 final.

    SHUTOUT: Connor Knapp's 31-save shutout was the second against the Irish over the last four games as Taylor Nelson also stopped 31 shots on Feb. 10 in a 3-0 shutout by Ferris State at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The last time the Irish were shutout twice in one season was the 2009-10 campaign when they were blanked three times (twice by Miami). The last time that Notre Dame scored just one goal in three games came in `09-'10 from Dec. 4 to Dec. 11 when the RedHawks shut the Irish out in back-to-back games and in the third game, Notre Dame scored just once in a 4-1 loss at Michigan

    ROLLER COASTER RIDE: The 2011-12 season has been a series of ups and downs for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Here's how the Irish season has gone to date:

    10/7-10/14:     2-2-0
    10/21-11/25:    8-0-3
    11/26-12/9:     0-4-0
    12/10-1/7:      3-0-0
    1/13-1/14:      0-2-0
    1/20-2/4:       3-3-0
    2/10-2/18:      0-4-0
                   16-15-3
    

    SWEPT AWAY: The sweep of the series by Miami marks the third time this season that the Irish have been swept in CCHA play and the second consecutive week after Ferris State did the trick on Feb. 10-11. The last time that Notre Dame was swept in back-to-back CCHA series was the 2004-05 season. With the sweep by Western Michigan on Jan. 13-14, the Irish have been swept three times this season. The last time that happened was 2009-10.

    SLOW STARTS: The Irish have been out scored 37-22 in the first period this season. In the 34 games to date, Notre Dame has surrendered the first goal in 20 of them. When the Irish give up the first goal, they are 7-12-1. When they score first, Notre Dame is 9-3-2 on the season. The last time the Irish scored the first goal of the game was on Feb. 4 in the 3-2 loss to Bowling Green. They have given up the first goal of the night in four straight games.

    IRISH VERSUS TOP-RANKED TEAMS: After being last weekend's sweep by No. 19 Miami, Notre Dame is now 8-10-3 versus ranked teams this season. Despite that record, against the top six teams in this week's USCHO.com poll, the Irish are a combined 6-5-0.

    1. Ferris State (1-3)
    2. Boston College (1-0)
    3. Michigan (1-1)
    4. Minnesota-Duluth (1-1)
    5. Boston University (1-0)
    6. Minnesota (1-0)
    

    Versus ranked teams overall this season, the Irish are 6-4-1 at home and 2-6-2 on the road. In 2010-11, the Irish played 24 games versus nationally ranked teams and finished 11-9-4 for the year.

    EVER SINCE: Notre Dame opened the 2012 portion of the schedule with a big, 4-3 win at #5/#3 Minnesota on Jan. 7, a place they hadn't won since Nov. 8, 1980. That win looked like it might springboard the Irish into a great second half. Since that win, though, Notre Dame has gone just 3-9-0, scoring just 20 goals (1.67 per game) while giving up 36 (3.0 per game).

    SPECIAL TEAMS STRUGGLES: What a difference a few weeks makes. Going into the series with Western Michigan one month ago (Jan. 13-14), Notre Dame had the CCHA's top power play and was on a roll killing penalties. Since then, the Irish special teams have fallen on hard times. Over the last 12 games, Notre Dame is just 7-for-53 (13.2%) on the power play and is 35-for-47 (74.5%) on the penalty kill. For the season, Notre Dame is 31-for-165 (18.8%) on the power play and has killed 104-of-129 power plays for a 80.6% success rate.

    CLASS OF THE CLASS: Notre Dame senior defenseman Sean Lorenz has selected as one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award that honors student athletes who excel both on and off the ice and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Lorenz is a three-time monogram winner for the Irish and serves as one of Notre Dame's alternate captains in 2011-12. He is coming off a career year as a junior (2010-11) for the Irish where he played in 44 games with career highs in goal (4), assists (11) and points (15) while being +33 on the year. He also was the CCHA defensive, defenseman of the year and the winner of Notre Dame's William Donald Nyrop Award as the team's top defenseman. Lorenz This season, Lorenz is second among Irish defensemen in scoring with three goals and 10 assists for 13 points and two game-winning goals. The Irish have had six players in the six-year history of the award make the list of 10 finalists. Former Notre Dame goaltender David Brown `07 won the award in 2007.

    HOBEY BAKER CANDIDATES: Notre Dame sophomores Anders Lee and T.J. Tynan are on the list of 77 players that have been nominated for the 2012 Hobey Baker Award. Fan voting for the award has begun at hobeybakeraward.com and will continue through March 1st. Lee leads the Irish in goals this season and is second on the team in scoring with 14 lamplighters and 16 assists for 30 points 34 games. Tynan is the top scorer on the Notre Dame roster with 12 goals and 27 assists for 39 points and leads the CCHA in scoring and is tied for 10th in the national scoring race.

    GOOD FOR GERTHS: With assists in each game of the series against Bowling Green, forward David Gerths snapped a 33-game point-scoring drought, notching his first two points of the season. Prior to his assist on Feb. 3, Gerths last scored on Feb. 19, 2011 when he had a goal and an assist versus Ferris State. The sophomore forward added his third assist of the season on Feb. 18 when he helped set up a Billy Maday power-play goal against Miami. Gerths is still looking for his first goal in 39 games. He last lit the lamp on Feb. 19, 2011 versus Ferris State.

    THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: Freshman right wing Austin Wuthrich (Anchorage, Alaska) leads Notre Dame rookies in scoring with seven goals and nine assists for 16 points. That ties him for ninth in the CCHA among freshman scorers. Rookie defenseman Robbie Russo (Westmont, Ill.) is right behind him with four goals and 10 assists for 14 points. That ties him for 14th among CCHA rookies in scoring and makes him the top scoring rookie defenseman in the CCHA this season. He also is tied for 12th in the CCHA among power-play scorers with four goals and seven assists for 11 points. Wuthrich was recently ranked 73rd among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting's mid-term rankings. Wuthrich is also the answer to a Notre Dame trivial pursuit question - Who scored the last goal in the Joyce Center? Austin Wuthrich at 18:35 of the third period on Oct. 15.

    THE PLAYMAKER: Sophomore left wing Anders Lee, Notre Dame's top goal scorer has become the team's playmaker in the last nine games. Lee, who leads the Irish with 14 goals, has picked up eight assists, picking up a point in six of the team's last nine games and is second in team scoring with 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points and is tied for seventh in the CCHA in points. Lee has gone 13 games without a goal, last scoring on Dec. 31 when he scored twice against Boston University.

    SAM CAN: Junior defenseman Sam Calabrese (Park Ridge, Ill.) is quietly having another strong season on the Notre Dame blue line. Through the first 34 games of the season, Calabrese leads all Irish defensemen in scoring with three goals and 12 assists for 15 points. The 12 assists equals a career high set as a sophomore in his first season playing full time. He led Notre Dame defensemen in scoring in 2010-11 when he had six goals and 12 assists for 18 points.

    BACK ON TRACK: Junior goaltender Mike Johnson has followed the same track as the Irish in this up-and-down 2011-12 season. Johnson has had a personal-best 10-game unbeaten streak (7-0-3), followed by a personal-worst five-game losing streak from Nov. 26 through Jan. 27. On Jan. 28, he snapped that streak with a 4-2 win at Alaska and went on a two-game winning streak. Since a Feb. 3 win over Bowling Green, Johnson has lost three in a row. For the season, Johnson is now 9-9-3 with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .886 save percentage. He needs just one more win to become the seventh goaltender in Notre Dame history to win 40 games in his career.

    HOME SWEET HOME: Notre Dame is now 9-6-0 in its first 15 games at the new Compton Family Ice Arena and 10-7-0 on home ice this season. In the 15 games played at the Compton Family Ice Arena this season, Notre Dame has played in front of nine sellout crowds of 5,022, including the last five consecutively. In the 15 games at the CFIA to date, the Irish have drawn 67,874 for an average of 4,860 per game.

    ROAD DOGS: The Irish have now lost three in a row on the road to fall to 6-8-3 away from the Compton Family Ice Arena. In CCHA contests, the Irish are 4-7-3 away from Compton Arena. Notre Dame's three non-league road games came at Minnesota- Duluth (a split) and at Minnesota (a win).

     

     

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