Defenseman Tom Sawatske and his partners on the blue line have helped the Irish to the best goals against in the nation - 1.17 - through the first 12 games.

Irish Move To #5/#4 In College Hockey Polls After Splitting With Michigan State.

Nov. 22, 2006

Notre Dame, Ind. –

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• The Series: #5/#4 Notre Dame (9-2-1/4-1-1) at Nebraska-Omaha (3-6-4/2-5-1)

• Date/Site/Time: Fri.-Sat., Nov. 24-25 • 7:05/7:35 p.m. (CST) • Qwest Center (14,700)

• Broadcast Information: Radio: Notre Dame hockey can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 South Bend’s SportsCenter. Mike Lockert, “the voice of Irish hockey” will bring you all the play-by-play action.

• Internet: Irish hockey can be heard on the internet at the Notre Dame website – All Notre Dame home games and all CCHA games are available on gametracker.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Notre Dame hockey team takes to the road again this weekend when the Fighting Irish travel to Omaha, Neb., for the Thanksgiving weekend. The Irish, who saw their nine-game unbeaten (8-0-1) streak snapped at Michigan State last weekend, will face the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks in a pair of games at the Qwest Center. The Friday, Nov. 24 contest will start at 7:05 p.m. (CST) with Saturday’s game (Nov. 25) starting at 7:35 p.m. (CST). Notre Dame brings a 9-2-1 overall record into the game and is 4-1-1 in the CCHA, good for a tie for fourth place with nine points. The Irish moved to fifth in the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine poll this week and to fourth in the poll this week, a one spot jump in each poll. Notre Dame is coming off a split with fourth-ranked Michigan State as the Irish won at home (4-1) on Nov. 17 before dropping a 2-0 decision in East Lansing, Mich., on Saturday night. Nebraska-Omaha is coming off a 4-4 tie on Tuesday night at Minnesota State. The Mavericks are 3-6-4 overall and 2-5-1 in CCHA play. They dropped a pair of conference games last weekend at Miami, losing 7-3 on Friday and 2-1 in the Saturday contest.

IRISH VERSUS MAVERICKS: Notre Dame and Nebraska-Omaha have met 19 times with the all-time series even at 8-8-3. In Omaha, Notre Dame is 5-4-2 all-time while at the Joyce Center, the Mavericks have a 4-3-1 edge. The two teams met twice last season at the Qwest Center with the Irish winning one (4-1) and getting a 2-2 tie in the series finale. This season, the two teams are cluster partners and will meet again in South Bend, Feb., 9-10.

STREAK BREAKERS: Notre Dame saw its’ nine-game unbeaten streak come to an end last Saturday night (Nov. 18) with a 2-0 loss at Michigan State. The Irish were 8-0-1 in the unbeaten run which started on Oct. 20 and was the longest unbeaten streak for the Irish since a 14-game winning streak during the 1987-88 season. The loss at Munn Arena also snapped a six-game road unbeaten streak (5-0-1) that also started on Oct. 20 at Boston College.

FIRST BLOOD: When Michigan State scored in the second period on Nov. 18, it marked just the second time this season that the Irish had given up the first goal of the game. Through 12 games, the Irish have only given up one first period goal, outscoring the opposition by a 12-1 margin.

HOMECOMING: Notre Dame’s weekend visit to Omaha is a homecoming for two members of the Irish hockey team. Senior captain T.J. Jindra (Faribault, Minn.) played two years in the United States Hockey League (USHL) for the River City/Omaha Lancers prior to coming to Notre Dame. Freshman Ryan Thang (Edina, Minn.) played the second half of last season for the Lancers before joining the Irish. The Irish also have four members of the roster who played in Lincoln for the Stars. Senior defenseman Tom Sawatske (Duluth, Minn.), junior forward Evan Rankin (Portage, Mich.), sophomore forward Erik Condra (Livonia, Mich.) and goaltender Jordan Pearce (Anchorage, Alaska) all played in Lincoln. Sawatske, Condra and Pearce were teammates with the Stars in 2004-05.

PLAYING WITH THE LEAD: Through the first 12 games of the season, Notre Dame has played a total of 729:45 minutes. In those 12 games, the Irish have trailed for just 42:17 minutes with a bulk of that time (36:21) coming in the 2-0 loss to Michigan State on Nov. 18. In the 12 games, the Irish have been tied a total of 253:28 minutes and held the lead for 476:17 minutes and have been behind for those 42:17 minutes.

RED-HOT IRISH: Notre Dame’s 9-2-1 start this season is the best for the Irish since starting the 1998-99 season with an 9-1-2 record. The Irish are ranked fourth in the poll and fifth by USA Today/American Hockey Magazine. The No. 4 ranking is the highest the Irish have been ranked since being fourth in the nation on Nov. 16, 1997. The last time the Irish were ranked higher was on Jan. 31, 1977 when they were second in the nation. The Irish are 5-2-1 away from the Joyce Center and had a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1) snapped at Michigan State last Saturday.

TOP 10 MEETINGS: Notre Dame’s clash last weekend with Michigan State marked the first time since 1999 that the Irish were involved in a series where both teams were ranked in the Top 10 at the same time. The Irish have played in 32 games over the years where both teams were ranked. Here’s a look at the record in those games.

1972-73:  8 games (3-4-1)1973-74:  6 games (2-3-1)1976-77:  6 games (2-2-2)1981-82:  2 games (0-2-0)1998-99:  8 games (3-3-2)2006-07:  2 games (1-1-0)Total:  32 games (11-15-6)

MICHIGAN STATE RECAP: The Irish traveled to East Lansing on Saturday night and ran into the hot goaltending of Jeff Lerg as the Spartans’ netminder kicked out all 25 shots he faced in a 2-0 shutout. A second-period goal by Bryan Lerg and a third-period insurance tally by Tim Crowder accounted for all the scoring in the game. The Spartans outshot the Irish by a 25-17 margin. David Brown (Sr., Stoney Creek, Ont.) made 15 saves. Michigan State was 1-for-6 on the power play while the Irish were 0-for-6. On Friday night at the Joyce Center, senior center Jason Paige (Saginaw, Mich.) scored two goals and Justin White (So., Traverse City, Mich.) and Brock Sheahan (Jr., Lethbridge, Alb.) scored their first career goals to lead Notre Dame to a 4-1 win over Michigan State. David Brown made 26 saves in the win. After a scoreless first period, the Irish scored three times in a 3:19 span of the second period. Paige put the Irish ahead 1-0 at the 7:30 mark. He then scored what would be the game winner at 10:35 on the power play. White scored 14 seconds later when he scored on a deflection of a Dan VeNard (Jr., Vernon Hills, Ill.) slapshot at 10:49. The Spartans broke through on Brown at 6:20 when Bryan Lerg scored from the left side of the goal to cut the lead to 3-1. Sheahan then scored the final goal of the game at 12:53 on a long shot from the left point that found its way over Jeff Lerg’s glove and under the crossbar for his first collegiate goal in his 83rd career game. Notre Dame out shot Michigan State, 31-27 in the game. Lerg finished with 27 saves. The Irish held the Spartans scoreless on five power-play tries while scoring once on three chances.

LAST BLANKING: Prior to the 2-0 shutout by Michigan State, the last time Notre Dame was shutout in a game came on March 4, 2006 when Alaska downed the Irish, 1-0, in the second game of the first round of the CCHA playoffs. The Irish have recorded three shutouts this season – two by David Brown and one by Jordan Pearce (So., Anchorage, Alaska).

POWER OUTAGE: Bryan Lerg’s second-period power-play goal on Nov. 18 for Michigan State, marked the first power-play goal given up by the Irish since Nov. 4 when Ohio State’s Tommy Goebel scored at 17:38 of the third period in a 1-1 tie. The Irish then killed 19 straight opponent power plays before Lerg’s goal. Over the last nine games, the Irish have killed 41-of-43 opponent penalties for a 95.3% success rate. For the season, Notre Dame has given up just five power-play goals, killing 61-of-66 chances for a 92.4% rate that is second in the CCHA and the nation behind Miami. The Irish have yet to give up a power-play goal at home this year (22-for-22).

WHAT BROWN DOES FOR THE IRISH: Senior goaltender David Brown has started 11 of Notre Dame’s 12 games this season and has an 8-2-1 record with a 1.26 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage. His goals against leads the nation and the CCHA while his save percentage is second in the CCHA and third nationally. Brown and the Irish blueliners have teamed up to form the nation’s top defensive team, giving up just 14 goals in 12 games for a 1.17 goals-against average. Brown has twice been named CCHA goaltender of the week this season (Oct. 23 and Nov. 6) and was also the all-tournament goaltender at the Lightning College Hockey Classic. This season, Brown has taken over Notre Dame’s all-time top spot for career goals-against average (2.55), save percentage (.914) and shutouts (8).

IRISH ADD SEVEN: Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson has announced that seven players have signed national letters-of-intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2007. The group of seven is made up of one goaltender, two defensemen and four forwards. The goaltender is Brad Phillips (Farmington Hills, Mich.), who is currently a member of the USA Under-18 team as are the two defensemen, Ian Cole (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and Teddy Ruth (Naperville, Ill.). All four forwards are currently playing in the USHL. Robin Bergman (Stockholm, Sweden) is a member of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders while Billy Maday (Burr Ridge, Ill.) plays for the Waterloo Black Hawks. Calle Ridderwall (Stockholm, Sweden) is with the Tri-City Storm and Ben Ryan (Brighton, Mich.) is in his second year with the Des Moines Buccaneers. Bergman and Ridderwall are the first two Swedish players to play at Notre Dame. Ridderwall and Maday were midget teammates last season with the Chicago Chill. All seven of Notre Dame’s recruits for the 2007-08 season have been listed in the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Preliminary Rankings. Central Scouting ranks players in two categories – A as “must see” as a potential top three round selection in the 2007 Entry Draft and B – as a “player to note” as a potential late round selection in the 2007 Entry Draft. Phillips, Ruth and Ryan were A selections while Bergman, Cole, Maday and Ridderwall were B selections.

A DEFENSIVE SCORE: Brock Sheahan’s goal at 12:53 of the third period against Michigan State was the first goal scored by a Notre Dame defenseman this season. The Irish defense now has one goal and 24 assists on the season. Wes O’Neill (Sr., Essex, Ont.) leads the group with seven assists. Noah Babin (Sr., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and Kyle Lawson (Fr., New Hudson, Mich.) follow with five assists each.

TURN THE PAIGE: Senior center Jason Paige picked up the second two-goal game of his career in the win over Michigan State. His previous two-goal game came on Feb. 27, 2004, in his freshman year against Michigan. This season, Paige has five goals and four assists for nine points in 11 games. His career-best season came as a freshman when he had 10 goals and four assists for 14 points. He has already surpassed his totals from last season (4g, 1a, 5pts). One of the top defensive forwards in the CCHA, Paige continues as Notre Dame’s top face-off man winning 149-of-257 for a 58.0% success rate.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Two Notre Dame players were honored by the CCHA the week of Nov. 12 and one also added player of the week honors from Inside College Sophomore left wing Erik Condra (Livonia, Mich.) was named the CCHA offensive player of the week and the INCH player of the week after scoring two goals and adding three assists for a five-point weekend against Bowling Green. Condra had three assists in the 5-2 win on Friday, Nov. 10 and followed that with a two-goal game, including the game winner, in the 4-0 win over the Falcons on Nov. 11. Freshman Ryan Thang (Edina, Minn.) was named the CCHA rookie of the week after recording the first three-point game of his career (2g, 1a) in the 5-2 win on Friday over Bowling Green. His second goal of the game was the game winner. For the weekend he had two goals and one assist and was +4.

A GAMER: Freshman Ryan Thang has proven to be a clutch scorer in his first 12 games as a member of the Notre Dame lineup. In those 12 contests, he has scored six times with three of them being game-winning goals. The freshman is tied for the CCHA and national lead with three game-winning goals. Thang’s three-point game against Bowling Green was the first of his career.

FIRST TIMER: Freshman right wing Christiaan Minella (Aurora, Colo.) had to wait until the 10th game of the season to see his first collegiate hockey action but wasted little time making the most of it. Minella scored his first collegiate goal on his first shot at 9:04 of the first period to give the Irish a 2-0 lead. The last Notre Dame player to score on his first career shot was Tim Wallace `06 who did it on Oct. 11, 2002 at Minnesota-Duluth. The hard-hitting right wing added his first career assist in the 4-1 win over Michigan State.

KID STUFF: Notre Dame’s eight-man freshman class has made major contributions early in the season. Six of the eight have seen action this season and in the first 12 games, they have combined for 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points, six power-play goals, two short-handed tallies, four game-winning goals and are a combined +30. Leading the way are center Kevin Deeth (5g, 6a) with 11 points. Ryan Thang (6g, 4a) follows with 10 points. They are followed by left wing Dan Kissel (Crestwood, Ill.) who has three goals and an assist for four points in five games. On defense, Kyle Lawson (New Hudson, Mich.) has five assists while Brett Blatchford (Temperance, Mich.) has two helpers. Christian Minella scored his first goal in his first game against Bowling Green and has two points with a goal and an assist.

FIRST PERIOD FUN: Notre Dame has outscored the opposition, 12-1 this season in the first period. The lone goal came in the first period of last Friday’s 5-2 win over Bowling Green when Kevin Schmidt scored at 10:14. The Falcons had that lead for 14 seconds as Mark Van Guilder answered back at 10:28. The Irish are now 8-1-1 on the year when they score first in a game and 7-1-0 when they lead after one period of play.

VAN GUILDER MARKS THE SPOT: Junior center Mark Van Guilder has already equaled his goal out put from a year ago as he has lit the lamp eight times in the first 10 games of 2006-07. Last year, Van Guilder had eight goals in 36 games for the Irish. In the first 12 games of the year, the Roseville, Minn., native has five multiple-point games this season with three games with three points and two with two points. Van Guilder leads the Irish with eight goals and six assists for 14 points on the year. He has now played in 86 consecutive games at Notre Dame.

JUST JOSHING: Josh Sciba saw his career-best six-game point streak (2g, 5a) snapped in the 2-0 loss at Michigan State. For the season, Sciba is fourth on the team with three goals and eight assists for 11 points. Eight of his points (3g, 5a) have come on the power play. For his career, Sciba now has 33 career goals with 18 of them coming with the man advantage.

YOUNG GUN: Freshman center Kevin Deeth (Gig Harbor, Wash.) quietly goes about his business for the Irish at 5-7, 161 pounds, but he has a way of making his presence felt. Through the first 12 games of the season, Deeth has five goals and six assists for 11 points to rank third on the Irish in scoring. The 11 points ties him for third in the CCHA among rookie scorers and ties him for 15th nationally. Of Deeth’s five goals, three have come on the power play and one was short-handed.

BACK IN THE RANKINGS: For the fifth week in a row, the Irish find themselves in the national rankings. They enter the weekend against Nebraska-Omaha ranked fifth in the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine poll and fourth in the polls. Notre Dame is ranked for the first time since the end of the 2003-04 season when they finished the year ranked 12th. Notre Dame was ranked for six weeks that season, including the final four weeks of the year. Week-by-week with the Irish this season:

2006-07 Irish National RankingsDate    USA TODAY    USCHO.com10/02     ----         ----10/09     ----         ----10/16     ----          RV10/23     11th         12th10/30     10th         10th11/6       9th          9th11/13      6th          5th11/20      5th          4th

Notre Dame hasn’t been ranked often in their 39-year hockey history. During the 1972-73 season, the Irish finished ranked fourth overall in the WMPL radio poll and were ranked for eight weeks during the year. That season, Notre Dame lost to Wisconsin in the WCHA finals. The following year (1973-74), the Irish opened the season ranked second (WMPL) and stayed as high as No. 2 through the first four weeks of the year before dropping out. In 1976-77, the Irish were ranked in the final seven weeks of the season, reaching as high as No. 2 on Jan. 31, finishing the year ranked third in the WMPL radio poll. They lost to Minnesota in the WCHA playoffs in a total-goal series. Notre Dame would not be ranked again until October 26 of the 1981-82 season when they reached 10th but weren’t ranked again. In 1998-99, the Irish spent 16 consecutive weeks (Oct. 19-Feb. 16) in both the USA Today and polls, before falling out at the end of the year. In 2002-03, the Irish were ranked for one week and in 2003-04, they were ranked six weeks in total, including the final four weeks in a row to finish 12th in the USA Today Poll and 13th in the final polls.

POWER-PLAY PRODUCER: Wes O’Neill (Jr., Essex, Ont.) is Notre Dame’s top scoring defensemen with seven points this season on seven assists. He has led Irish defensemen in scoring in each of the last three seasons. So far this season, four of his seven assists have come on the power play. For his career, O’Neill has scored 10 goals and 28 assists on the power play. In 124 all-time games, the veteran defenseman has 14 goals and 50 assists for 64 career points.

CONDRA CAPERS: Sophomore left wing Erik Condra has picked up where he left off in the scoring department as a freshman. Condra, Notre Dame’s rookie of the year and a CCHA all-rookie team selection, led the Irish with six goals and 28 assists for 34 points. In 12 games this year, he has four goals and 10 assists for 14 points to tie for the team lead in scoring. In 48 career games, Condra has 10 goals and 38 assists for 48 points. GOAL-SCORING MACHINE: Part of the reason for Notre Dame’s fast 9-2-1 start this season has been the Irish ability to put the puck in the net. Through the first 12 games, Notre Dame has outscored the opposition by a 44-14 margin (3.67 to 1.17 per game). The Irish are ranked 12th in the nation in goals-per-game and tops in goals-against. The +2.50 margin of victory is also tops in the nation. Last year, in 36 games, Notre Dame scored just 89 goals (2.47 per game).

HANSON HAS IT: Sophomore center Christian Hanson saw his streak of goals in three consecutive games snapped in the 1-1 tie with Ohio State on Nov. 4. Prior to that he had collected goals in the 4-2 win over the Buckeyes and a goal in each game of the Lightning College Hockey Classic versus Army and Air Force. At the Lightning College Hockey Classic, he was named to the all-tournament team and was the tournament MVP. He has now tripled his goal output of his freshman year when he had one goal and two assists for three points. This season, he has scored three goals with no assists.

TOURNEY HONORS: Three members of the Irish hockey team were selected to the Lightning College Hockey Classic all-tournament team: goaltender David Brown, defenseman Brock Sheahan (Jr., Lethbridge, Alb.) and center Christian Hanson. Hanson was named the tournament’s most valuable player as he scored a goal in each game, including the game winner in the championship game versus Air Force.

200 AND COUNTING: Head coach Jeff Jackson recorded the 200th win of his Division I coaching career with Notre Dame’s 2-0 win over Air Force on Oct. 28. Now in his eighth season behind a collegiate bench, Jackson is 204-73-30 with a .713 winning percentage. He has the best winning percentage among active coaches with five or more years experience and his 204 wins rank him 22nd among active coaches. In six seasons at his previous collegiate stop – Lake Superior State (1990-96) – Jackson’s teams were 182-52-25 with two national championships, two CCHA regular-season titles and four CCHA tournament championships. Included in his 195 career wins are 36 postseason victories and a .800 winning percentage (36-9 in postseason). In CCHA postseason action at Lake Superior, Jackson’s teams were 24-2 (.923) with the two losses coming to Michigan in CCHA Championship games (`94 and `96).

AWARDS GALORE: Notre Dame players picked up their share of awards following the weekend of Oct. 20-21 at Boston College and Providence College. Senior defenseman Wes O’Neill was named the CCHA defensive player of the week with a pair of assists in the two games while going +4 on the weekend. Goaltender David Brown was the CCHA goaltender of the week as he stopped 48-of-50 shots in the two wins for a 1.00 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage. Freshman center Kevin Deeth took CCHA rookie of the week honors after getting two goals and two assists while being +4 for the weekend. Junior Mark Van Guilder was named Inside College’s player of the week for scoring three goals (all against Boston College) and adding two assists for five points. College Hockey named Notre Dame as its’ team of the week.

BACK-TO-BACK: The Irish recorded back-to-back hat tricks in the games at Boston College and Providence. In the 7-1 win on Friday night, Mark Van Guilder picked up the second, three-goal game of his career. The following night, Dan Kissel scored three times in the 6-1 win over the Friars. That marked the first time since Feb. 7-8, 1992 that Notre Dame players recorded hat tricks in back-to-back games. On Feb. 7, 1992, Lou Zadra had three versus Western Michigan in a 10-4 loss to the Broncos. The following night, Sterling Black scored three times in a 7-5 loss at Western Michigan.

ALL TIED UP: Notre Dame’s 1-1 tie against Ohio State on Nov. 4 was the second overtime game for the Irish this season. On Oct. 14, Notre Dame dropped a 3-2 overtime decision at Minnesota State and are now 0-1-1 in extra play this year. Last season, Notre Dame was 0-0-4 in four overtime games. In 55 overtime games since the start of the 1999-2000 season, the Irish are 7-7-41 in overtime. The last overtime win for the Irish came on Dec. 10, 2004 in a 3-2 victory against Michigan State. That win snapped a 16-game winless skid (0-2-14) during the regular season that started on Jan. 25, 2002.

TWO-GOAL GAMES OR MORE: Scoring is definitely contagious. Through 11 games this season, the Irish have seen players score two or more goals in a game eight times. Last season, Notre Dame had a total of seven multiple-goal games, including two hat tricks. Jason Paige did the trick on Friday night when he scored twice in the 4-1 win over Michigan State. Mark Van Guilder and Dan Kissel have had hat tricks against Boston College and Providence, respectively. Freshman Ryan Thang scored twice against Boston College and Bowling Green. Sophomore left wing Garrett Regan (Hastings, Minn.) scored twice, including the game winner in the 6-1 win win on Oct. 12. Junior center Mark Van Guilder scored twice in the same game while recording a three-point game. On Oct. 14, it was freshman Kevin Deeth’s turn as he collected a short-handed goal and a power-play tally in the 3-2 overtime loss.

MINNESOTA MAGIC: Notre Dame’s five Minnesota natives had strong weekends in the home-and-home weekend with Minnesota State. Junior Mark Van Guilder had two goals and one assist in the 6-1 win on Thursday. Sophomore Garrett Regan had two goals in the 6-1 win against the Mavericks. Freshman Ryan Thang had a goal and an assists in the season opener. Seniors Tom Sawatske (Duluth, Minn.) was +1 on the weekend and T.J. Jindra (Faribault, Minn.) was even. An adopted son, Kevin Deeth who played two years of prep hockey at Shattuck St. Mary’s (Faribault, Minn.), also had two goals and an assist in two games versus MSU.

PREMIER PUCKSTOPPER: Senior goaltender David Brown is off to a fast start in 2006-07. He is 8-2-1 on the year with a stingy 1.26 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage. Of the 14 goals he has given up, eight have come at even strength. Five have come via the power play and one was short-handed. Brown stopped 36-of-37 shots he faced in the season-opening win versus Minnesota State. That marked the 13th time in Brown’s career that he has made 35 or more saves in a game. Notre Dame is 6-6-1 in those games.

CAPTAINS: Senior right wing T.J. Jindra (Faribault, Minn.) will serve as Notre Dame’s captain for the second consecutive season. Jindra becomes the first Irish player to serve as captain twice since Evan Nielsen `03 held the responsibility from 2001-03. There have been 14 players to serve as two-time captains with the Irish. Joining Jindra as alternate captains in `06-’07, are senior center Jason Paige (Saginaw, Mich.) and senior defensemen Wes O’Neill (Essex, Ont.) and Tom Sawatske (Duluth, Minn.). Paige has served as an alternate captain since his sophomore year. O’Neill and Sawatske will be alternate captains for the first time at Notre Dame.