November 21, 1998

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – When the Notre Dame hockey team left Yost Ice Arena at the end of last season’s CCHA playoff series loss to eventual NCAA champion Michigan, few observers thought that the rivalry could get more intense.

But the teams played to a hard-fought 2-2 tie last week at the Joyce Center before adding further fuel to the fire with Saturday night’s 1-0 victory by the No. 8-ranked Wolverines over the undermanned and No. 4-ranked Irish in front of a spirited, standing-room-only crowd of 6,564.

The result forged a first-place tie atop the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings between Notre Dame (7-2-1, 9-2-2 overall) and Michigan (7-1-1, 8-2-1 overall), with the teams not set to meet again until January 30 at the Joyce Center.

The last seven games of the series have included five one-goal wins by Michigan (two in overtime), a 4-2 win for the Irish and last week’s 2-2 tie. In those games, Michigan has totaled 17 goals while the Irish have scored 14 times.

Notre Dame played without injured senior left wing Aniket Dhadphale for the third straight game while junior right wing Joe Dusbabek and sophomore defenseman Ryan Clark also missed the game after getting dinged up during Friday’s 9-5 home victory over Western Michigan.

An unconventional goal that deflected off the leg of Michigan senior right wing Sean Ritchlin provided the night’s only scoring, as neither team managed a power-play goal despite five chances for the Irish and six for the Wolverines.

Notre Dame senior Forrest Karr was under heavy pressure for much of the night while totaling 25 saves. His counterpart, freshman Josh Blackburn, stopped all 16 Irish shots for his second career shutout.

The closing moments of the second period featured another emotional moment in the growing rivalry, as Notre Dame junior center Ben Simon knocked down Michigan senior center Bobby Hayes immediately following a faceoff in the UM zone. Referee Brent Rutherford made no call on the play as Hayes fell to the ice and remained there. But with most of the capacity crowd voicing their disapproval, linesman John Nowostka called Simon for a five-minute major high sticking penalty with five seconds left in the period.

Irish head coach Dave Poulin refused to let his team skate to the lockerroom at the end of the period until Rutherford skated over to the bench for a conference. A clearly incensed Poulin then walked with Rutherford the length of the ice-stating his case all the way about the rare linesman-called penalty-before exiting to the team lockerroom area.

After the game, Poulin was somber but positive-just as he was following the pair of tough playoff losses to the Wolverines eight months ago.

“Both goaltenders played great and we really came through on the penalty kill after struggling there in recent weeks,” said Poulin. “We continue to show that we can play in hostile environments and we had some great individual efforts tonight. Some of the official interpretations of certain plays were mystifying, which is tough to see in tight games like these.”

Michigan appeared to cash in on the power play following Simon’s penalty, just 25 seconds into the final period, when sophomore right wing Josh Langfeld tipped in a shot from the center of the blueline by sophomore defenseman Dale Huntzicker. But the goal was disallowed as Langfeld was called for hitting the puck with a high stick.

The Irish then gained a break when sophomore center Scott Matzka’s interference penalty at the 2:07 mark produced a 4-on-4 situation, and Michigan ultimately failed to capitalize on the Simon penalty.

The game featured 39 combined penalty minutes (21 for Notre Dame and 18 for Michigan).

Notre Dame nearly tied the game with 13 minutes left, when senior defenseman Benoit Cotnoir found streaking senior right wing Brian Urick with a pass down the right side. Michigan was caught in a mental lapse, as a defenseman left the ice prior to the pass but nobody took his place. Urick skated in free on Blackburn but his rising shot clanged hard off the right post.

Notre Dame had another strong scoring chance with seven minutes to play, when the lefthanded Simon knifed in from the left side and nudged a twisting backhanded shot on net. But the puck bounced around in the crease with Simon unable to finish the chance before Blackburn covered for a faceoff.

Michigan scored on a freak goal midway through the second period, as Matzka fired a shot from the top of the circle to Karr’s right. The puck kicked off the leg of Ritchlin before flying by Karr’s left leg.

The Irish had a brief two-man advantage late in the second period but could not convert, with Blackburn stopping an open backhanded chance at the top of the crease by sophomore left wing Chad Chipchase.

The scoreless first period featured three power-play chances for Michigan and two for the visitors, with the Wolverines holding a 9-3 overall shot edge in the first 20 minutes.

In other CCHA action Saturday, third-place Michigan State (6-2-2) posted a 4-1 win at eighth-place Western Michigan (1-5-4) while Miami (2-8-2) climbed out of a tie for last place with a 4-1 home win over Ohio State (4-4-2). Northern Michigan (5-5-0) remained tied with OSU for fifth place, following a 4-2 home loss to fourth-place Ferris State (6-3-1).

At Ann Arbor, Mich.

NOTRE DAME   0   0   0   -   0MICHIGAN     0   1   0   -   1

First Period: No scoring.

Penalties: Notre Dame 4 for 8 minutes, Michigan 3 for 6 minutes.

Second Period: 1. Michigan, Ritchlin 2 (Matzka) 10:40.

Penalties: Notre Dame 2 for 7 minutes, Michigan 3 for 6 minutes.

Third Period: No scoring.

Penalties: Notre Dame 3 for 6 minutes, Michigan 3 for 6 minutes.

Shots on Goal: Notre Dame 4-6-6-16; Michigan 10-8-8/26.

Power Plays: Notre Dame 0 for 5, Michigan 0 for 6.

Goalies: Notre Dame, Forrest Karr 10-7-8-25; Michigan, Josh Blackburn 4-6-6-16.

Referee: Brent Rutherford.

Linesmen: John Nowostka, Jon Gosger.

Attendance: 6,564.