December 23, 1998

&middot Irish travel to North Dakota after 27-day break from competition

&middot Squad looks to halt four-game slide; Carlson named to USA junior team

&middot Simon (7G-16A) remains second on conference scoring charts

No. 9 Notre Dame (9-3-2, 7-3-1 CCHA) will return from a 27-day break from competition, when the Irish head to North Dakota for a pair of games vs. the top-ranked Fighting Sioux on Jan. 2 and 3 … the Irish will be without sophomore LW and fourth-leading scorer Dan Carlson (4G-10A), who will be busy playing with Team USA at the World Junior Championship in Manitoba … sophomore D Ryan Clark’s status also remains uncertain, as he was due to undergo shoulder surgery over the holiday break (see below) … Notre Dame has scored just six goals in the current four-game losing streak, with a 3-for-23 power play during that stretch (.130, compared to .250 overall) … the squad’s top four defensemen combined to miss 14 games due to injury during the first half of the season (see note later in release) … the Irish have played well in hostile arenas during the past two seasons (see later note), with road wins vs. every CCHA team but Miami during that stretch, a pair of victories at Wisconsin and a two-game sweep at St. Cloud State … Michigan sits atop the CCHA (10-1-1/21 pts), followed by Ferris State (8-3-2/18), Ohio State (8-4-2/18), Michigan State (7-2-2/16) and Notre Dame (7-5-1/15) … … the Irish lead the CCHA in overall power-play pct. (.250, fourth in the nation) and scoring (3.63 goals/gm), rank third in fewest penalty minutes (18.8/gm) and fourth in defense (2.63 goals allowed/gm), but rank 10th in penalty-killing pct. (.812) … senior RW Brian Urick’s 11 career game-winning goals are tied for third in Notre Dame history, just two behind the record held by fourth-year Irish head coach Dave Poulin … the Irish hope for the return this week of senior LW Aniket Dhadphale (see below) … Simon ranks second in the CCHA for overall scoring (9G-16A) … the Irish have allowed only two shorthanded goals in each of the past two seasons, with Ohio State accounting for all four of those goals (two on 1/25/98 and two on 12/5/98) … Notre Dame raced out to its best start in 39 years of varsity hockey (6-0-0) and best conference start in 19 seasons as a member of the WCHA (1971-81) or CCHA (1981-83, 1992- ).

CARLSON NAMED TO USA JUNIOR NATIONAL TEAM: Notre Dame sophomore LW Dan Carlson (Edina, Minn.) has been named to the 22-player team that will represent the United States at the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship … Irish freshman center David Inman (Toronto, Ont.)-who owns joint citizenship- was among the four players cut from the squad, following a Dec. 14-17 trout camp at the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Ice Cube facility … Carlson will miss Notre Dame’s upcoming series at No. 1-ranked North Dakota (Jan. 2-3), as the World Juniors will run from Dec. 26-Jan. 5, in Winnipeg and five other cities in Manitoba, Canada … he will return to the squad in time for the Jan. 8 game at Bowling Green … the final 22-player roster features seven returnees from the 1997-98 U.S. team that finished fifth at the World Junior Championship in Finland … 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 5-10, 190-pound Carlson has skated alongside Inman this season and ranks fourth on the Irish squad with 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists), including two power-play goals, one game-winning goal and the team’s only shorthanded score of the season … he ranked among the CCHA top freshman scorers in 1997-98 with 11 goals (three power-play, three shorthanded) and 17 assists … the final junior national team roster includes 14 current college players, with six of those hailing from teams in the CCHA. In addition to Carlson, the CCHA players on the team include two Michigan State players (goaltender Josh Blackburn and forward Adam Hall), Michigan defenseman Jeff Jillson, Bowling Green forward Ryan Murphy and Lake Superior State forward Mike Vigilante … the eight other college players include two each from Wisconsin and Maine and one each from Boston College, Minnesota, Colorado College and Boston University.

INJURY UPDATE: Three Notre Dame players returned in early December at Ohio State, after missing multiple games due to arm injuries: senior LW Aniket Dhadphale (4 games missed), junior RW Joe Dusbabek (2) and sophomore D Ryan Clark (2) … the Irish power play was hitting at a .321 clip during the first 10 games with Dhadphale in the lineup but the Irish were just 2-for-17 (.118) on the PP during the four games without their top sniper … Clark is scheduled to have shoulder surgery while he is at his home in Littleton, Colo., during the holiday break … Clark’s status will be clarified by the Notre Dame sports medicine staff following the surgery.

THE TRAVELLERS: Notre Dame is nearing the end of an 11-week stretch in which the Irish will play just three games at home and 10 on the road, in eight different cities: Kalamazoo, Mich.; Boston, Mass. (2); Ann Arbor, Mich.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Columbus, Ohio; Grand Forks, N.D. (2); and Bowling Green, Ohio … the current 11-week stretch includes five off-weekends for the Irish (Oct. 31-Nov. 1, Nov. 27-28, Dec. 11-12, Dec. 18-19 and Dec. 25-26) … on the flip side, Notre Dame will then play nine of the ensuing 14 games at home before ending the regular season with a pair of games at Miami.

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.

SEASON OF STREAKS: Notre Dame opened the season with a six-game winning streak but currently is riding a four-game losing streak.

A FINE LINE: Notre Dame’s first forward line of senior LW Aniket Dhadphale (9-7), sophomore C Ben Simon (5-13) and senior RW Brian Urick (8-8) combined for 22 goals and 50 points through the first 10 games (5.0 points/gm), with Dhadphale missing games #11-#14 due to an injury … Dhadphale (52-41), Simon (22-59) and Urick (51-58) have combined for 282 career points in 331 combined games … during the 1997-98 season, the trio skated together for the final eight games en route to becoming the program’s first threesome of 30-point scorers since 1992-93: Dhadphale (25-10), Simon (9-28) and Urick (16-18).

THE SERIES: Notre Dame holds a narrow 15-14-1 lead in the all-time series but North Dakota holds an 8-6-0 edge in games played at Engelstad Arena … the last games between the teams came in 1980-81 (Notre Dame’s last season in the WCHA), when the Sioux won 7-3 and played to a 1-1 tie in a series at Notre Dame.

SCOUTING THE SIOUX: North Dakota (12-1-1, 10-1-1 WCHA) was a consensus No. 1 in the Dec. 14 national polls and is riding a seven-game winning streak, after a pair of home wins over Wisconsin (6-1, 4-1) … North Dakota’s only loss came on Nov. 20 at home versus Colorado College (4-5), with the Sioux playing to a 4-4 tie at Minnesota the previous week … North Dakota returned 18 of 23 letterwinners from its 1997-98 team that went 30-8-2 and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals, losing in the NCAA quarterfinals to eventual champion Michigan (4-3) … North Dakota won the 1997-98 NCAA title (its first national crown in 10 seasons) … top returners for North Dakota are three senior forwards: C Jason Blake (24G-27A last season), W David Hoogsteen (20G-23A in ’97-’98) and W Jay Panzer (18G-23A in ’97-’98) … North Dakota is averaging 4.9 goals/gm and is clicking at 22.4 percent on its power play … Blake (8G-15A) and Panzer (8-20) and Panzer’s younger brother, sophomore F Jeff Panzer (6G-14A), rank as the current leading scorers, followed by sophomore W Lee Goren and senior C Jesse Bull (4G-11A) … North Dakota is allowing just 2.6 goals per game and owns an .847 penalty-killing unit … sophomore Karl Goehring has logged 599 minutes in goal, with an 8-1-1 record, 2.81 GAA and .904 save pct. … freshman Andy Kollar has played 249 minutes (3 starts), with a 4-0-0 record, 1.94 GAA and .923 save pct. … other wins: Minn.-Duluth (3-0, 4-1), Clarkson (6-2, 5-1), at Minn. (5-3), Colorado Coll. (5-4), at St. Cloud State (4-3, 7-4) and at Denver (6-4, 5-3).

FRIEND OR FOE?: Notre Dame sophomore RW Ryan Dolder and North Dakota freshman W Mike Possin are former Twin City Vulcans teammates … Irish sophomore LW Dan Carlson and freshman D Sam Cornelius both attended Edina (Minn.) HS, as did Sioux junior W Peter Ambrust … the USHL’s Lincoln Stars has produced two current North Dakota players-freshman C Bryan Lundbolm and freshman D Chad Mazurak-and Irish sophomore D Ryan Clark.

FAMILIAR WITH GRAND FORKS: Notre Dame head coach Dave Poulin was 0-7-1 vs. North Dakota during his playing days with the Irish, including an 0-4-0 mark at Engelstadt Arena as a sophomore (in 1979-80, by scores of 7-4 and 3-1 in the regular season and 10-4, 7-4 in the WCHA playoffs) … Poulin’s freshman year saw North Dakota win 9-4 and 6-4 at the Joyce Center while the Sioux returned his junior year for a 7-3 win and 1-1 tie … Irish assistant coach Tom Carroll also is familiar with the North Dakota program, after playing for the talented Wisconsin team of 1979-83 … forme Irish player and student assistant coach Justin Theel (1994-98) hails from Bismarck, N.D. (his playing career ended early in his junior year due to a back injury).

SIMON THE SCORER: Junior C Ben Simon-who has points in 13 of 16 games this season and already has equaled his sophomore season goal total (9)-ranks second in the CCHA overall scoring charts (9G-16A) while his 20 points in CCHA play (8G-12A) are tied for the league lead with linemate Brian Urick (8G-12A) and two Northern Michigan players: Buddy Smith (2G-18A) and J.P. Vigier (14G-6A) … Smith (5G-21A) is the overall scoring leader, just a point ahead of Simon … Simon scored a memorable goal 17 seconds into the third period of the 7-1 win over Western Michigan, slanting in from the right side before tucking the puck inside the left post … that score represented Simon’s first goal in 13 games, since a first-period goal in another 7-1 win-versus Ferris State on Feb. 7, 1998 (he had endured 31 shots on net without a goal) … Simon has excelled at setting up his teammates (59 assists in 83 career games) but owns just 22 career goals on 219 shots (10.0 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 Junior Barons) … Simon, who has added goals at LSSU, vs. OSU, at BC, at Northeastern, vs. BG, vs. Michigan, in the WMU series finale and in the first game at OSU (2), is averaging just 5.4 shots per goal this season (45 shots), compared to 13.4 shots per goal during his first two seasons (13 goals, 174 shots).

TURN BACK ON THE POWER: Notre Dame’s power play opened at .321 clip but the Irish are just 4-for-32 (.125) during the past six games, due to the absence of senior LW Aniket Dhadphale (first four games) and sophomore RW Joe Dusbabek (who took Dhadphale’s spot on the first unit before missing the two games prior to the OSU trip due to injury) … despite the dropoff, the overall power-play pct. (.250) would rank best by an Irish team playing as a member of the CCHA or WCHA since the 1981-82 season (.303) … the .250 Irish mark also is ahead of the CCHA-best effort by Michigan State in 1997-98 (.233) …. for comparison, Notre Dame owned just a .127 power-play pct. in 1996-97 and a .176 PP mark last season … power-play goals have helped provide the decisive margin this season in wins over Ferris State (5-3, 2 PPGs), Lake Superior (403, 4 PPGs) and Northeastern (4-3, 3 PPGs) while the Irish netted three PPGs in the 5-5 tie at Boston College … eight different Irish players have notched a PPG this season, led by four each from linemates senior LW Aniket Dhadphale, senior RW Brian Urick and junior C Ben Simon … the other PPGs have come from sophomore LW Dan Carlson (2), freshman C David Inman (2), sophomore LW Chad Chipchase (2), sophomore RW Matt Van Arkel (3) and junior RW Joe Dusbabek … the primary power-play unit has included the first forward line, with Carlson and either senior D Benoit Cotnoir or junior D Tyson Fraser at the point … that first unit has 16 PPGs, with Dusbabek scoring with the first group at Lake Superior while Simon was in the penalty box and Chipchase scoring vs. Ferris State.

HOME IMPROVEMENT: After a 3-6-3 start at home in ’97-’98 (in which the Irish were 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 … in the last 11 home games, Notre Dame is 8-2-1 with a 49-22 scoring edge (two 7-1 wins and a 9-5 win) … the recent home losses came to Michigan (1-0, goal in first minute) and eventual NCAA semifinalist Ohio State (5-3) while the ties were vs. Bowling Green in 1997-98 (1-1) and Michigan this season (2-2).

EASY AS 1-2-3: Notre Dame has received steady production in all three periods, with 16 goals in the first period, 20 in the second and 22 in the third … during the first six games, the Irish owned an 8-1 scoring edge in the first period (16-9 overall) … the Irish also own a 20-13 edge in the second period but have struggled defensively in the third, with just a 22-20 edge (compared to 36-22 over the first two periods) … during the 1997-98 season, 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.

DUDE LOOKS LIKE A SCORER: Senior LW Aniket Dhadphale (pronounced Uh-NEE-kett Dod-FALL-ee) has become one of the most well-known-and often mispronounced-names 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 34 goals and 18 assists during the past two seasons (53 games).

REDEFINING MAN DOWN: During its last 28 games, Notre Dame has played without at least one of its top defensemen 23 times and managed to go 12-9-2 in those games (four losses to Michigan) … the top four defensemen have missed a combined 14 games this season due to injury, yet the Irish remain in the national polls and are on pace to set the school record for goals-against average (2.60) … Notre Dame is 2-2-1 in the only games during the last 26 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 defenseman during the last 26 break down as follows: Cotnoir (2), Fraser (13), Borega (15) and Clark (2) … two of those players have been sidelined during the same game nine times over the last 28, with the Irish owning a solid 6-3-0 mark in those games … Fraser took the leadership reigns of the Irish defense in mid-October, in the absence of Borega and Cotnoir, and played the point on the first power-play unit that racked up six goals in the trip to Ferris State and Lake Superior … Clark missed the first two games of the current four-game losing streak (0-1 at Michigan, 2-4 vs. FSU) due to his arm injury … lost in the 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 seasons-most recently in the 5-5 tie at No. 1 Boston College and the 1-0 loss at Michigan-as the Irish are 16-15-1 away from home during that stretch, with the 15 losses including 10 by one goal … the Irish own a 104-95 scoring edge and an 984-912 shot advantage in those 32 road games (avg. 3.3 goals scored, 3.0 allowed, 30.8 shots taken, 28.5 allowed) … in ’97-’98, Notre Dame posted wins at St. Cloud State (4-3/OT, 4-1), Michigan State (6-1), Wisconsin (4-2), Northern Michigan (3-1) and Michigan (4-2)-in addition to losing three one-goal games at Michigan (two in OT) and single one-goal games at Miami, Ferris State, Alaska Fairbanks (OT) and Lake Superior (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 Ferris State (5-3) and Lake Superior (4-3)-giving Notre Dame victories in every opposing CCHA building except Miami’s Goggin Ice Arena over the past two seasons … Notre Dame’s most recent road trip produced a forgettable pair of losses to Ohio State at the OSU Ice Arena (3-4, 1-4).

MORE ON THE ROAD STRENGTH: The Irish are 4-0-1 when playing none-conference away games during the past two seasons, winning last season twice at St. Cloud State and once at Wisconsin before posting the 2-1 win at Wisconsin and 5-5 tie at Boston College this season.

SO MUCH FOR PLUS-MINUS: Despite outscoring the opposition by 16 goals, Notre Dame is just +61 because a good portion of its goals (22 of 58) have come on the power play while the opponents have totaled 23 non-power-play goals.

GETTING COMPETITIVE: Notre Dame finished ’97-’98 by going 4-4-0 in its final eight games vs. CCHA teams (four vs. Michigan, three vs. Northern Michigan and one at sixth-place Lake Superior) … 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 20 games vs. CCHA teams, Notre Dame is 10-9-1, including a 9-7-1 mark in the regular season.

URICK LEADS THE WAY: Senior RW and team captain Brian Urick turned in a five-point weekend vs. Lake Superior (2G) and Western Michigan (2G, 1A) before adding a goal at Ferris State, a goal and assist at Lake Superior, two assists vs. Ohio State, a goal and assist at BC, the game-winning goal at Northeastern, two assists vs. BG, one assist vs. Michigan, his 50th career goal and an assist in the series finale vs. WMU, an assist in the 4-2 loss to FSU and a goal and two assists in the 4-3 loss at OSU … Urick’s early four-game goal streak ended vs. OSU (equaling his career-high) but he still has 22 points in the last 15 games (10G-12A) … Urick ranks third in the CCHA for overall scoring (10G-14A) and is one of four players tied for the scoring lead in CCHA games only (8G-12A) … he leads the team in plus-minus (+16), has just seven penalties and owns 51 goals and 58 assists in 127 career games … his first of two assists in the Nov. 13 Bowling Green game made Urick the 27th Notre Dame player to reach the 100-point plateau … over the past two seasons, Urick has 58 points (26G-32A) in 57 games, a team-best +31, only 54 penalty minutes and seven of the team’s 27 game-winning goals … his 11 career game-winning goals ties Urick with Paul Regan (1969-73) for third in Irish history behind Dave Bankoske (12, 1988-93) and fourth-year Irish head coach Dave Poulin (13, 1978-82).

BALANCING ACT: Notre Dame’s 54 goals have come from 15 players, with six combining on the first seven … junior C Ben Simon owns 16 of the team’s 89 assists and senior right wing Brian Urick has 14, with 16 other players also setting up Irish goals this season … only one of the 18 starting skaters-junior D/LW Andy Jurkowski-has yet to register a point … additionally, the nine Irish game-winning goals have come from seven different players (Simon and Brian Urick have two each).

FOLLOW THAT KARR!: Senior G Forrest Karr has provided strong leadership between the pipes, allowing just 19 even-strength goals in 16 games … Karr’s impressive debut as the Irish starter includes posting a 2.59 season goals-against average that ranks sixth in the CCHA … that strong first half of the season start places Karr below the season record for GAA (2.70), set last season by Matt Eisler … Karr’s .896 season save pct. ranks fourth ion Irish history and is second-best by a Notre Dame netminder since 1977 (Eisler posted .905 last season) … Karr’s career record now stands at 17-16-3, including 15-8-3 over the past two seasons … Karr owns a solid 2.74 GAA during the past two seasons (71 GA, 1554:08) while his career GAA of 3.14 (110 GA, 2101:41) would best the Irish record set by Eisler (3.66) … Karr’s impressive effort on the road during the past two seasons has yielded a 10-6-1 record and a 2.82 GAA (47 GA, 1,000:09), with two losses coming at Western Michigan, one vs. FSU at Van Andel Arena and two in early December at Ohio State … Karr posted his first career shutout with 16 saves in the Oct. 23 home win over No. 9 Ohio State (3-0), improving his career record to 3-3-0 versus national top-10 teams (wins at Bowling Green as a sophomore and at Wisconsin earlier this season) before seeing his record vs. top-10 ranked teams go to 3-4-2 after a 5-5 tie at No. 1 Boston College, a 2-2 tie vs. No. 7 Michigan and a 1-0 loss at No. 8 Michigan … like many of his teammates, Karr has a history of playing well in hostile arenas, with wins at Wisconsin last year and this year, three career wins at Bowling Green, a win over Ohio State last season at the Ohio Expo Center, this year’s tie at Boston College and the recent 1-0 loss at Michigan (25 saves).

FRESHMEN STEP UP: Centers David Inman (Toronto, Ont.) and Brett Henning (Huntington, N.Y.) and defenseman Sam Cornelius (Edina, Minn.) have played crucial roles during the first weeks of their Irish careers … Inman’s impressive debut as the second-line center has included providing the primary assist on Matt Van Arkel’s game-winning rebound goal in the 4-2 home win over Lake Superior … the 6-1, 190-pound lefthander flirted with a hat trick the next night vs. Western Michigan, opened the scoring on what proved to be the game-winner vs. Ohio State (3-0) and assisted on a Van Arkel PPG at Boston College before scoring a PPG of his own at Northeastern … he had an assist in the 6-2 win over Bowling Green, scored the first goal in the 2-2 tie with Michigan, provided two assists in the 9-5 win over WMU and scored the first goal in last week’s 4-2 loss to FSU … for the season, Inman is +4 with 11 penalties … Henning has done a solid job centering the third line … Henning’s goal iced the 5-3 win at Ferris State while he passed the puck to Jay Kopischke to set up Van Arkel’s rebound goal at WMU (a 2-1 loss) before providing the primary assist on Benoit Cotnoir’s goal vs. BG and notching two assists vs. WMU (9-5) … Henning’s goal in the final game at Ohio State averted a shutout (4-1) … Cornelius assisted in both of the home wins over Lake Superior and WMU, providing a set-up pass for Brian Urick’s goal that tied the LSSU game (1-1) before notching the primary assist on a power-play goal by former prep teammate Dan Carlson for a 6-1 lead on WMU … Cornelius, who has no points in the last seven games, also knocked home the game-winner at Ferris State (5-3), on a shot from the center of the blue line, while his shot was tipped in by Van Arkel at Northeastern … Inman (+6, 11 pen.), Henning (+1, 9 pen.) and Cornelius (-2, 5 pen.) have combined for 21 points, a +5 plus-minus ratio and just 25 penalties in 16 games.

IRISH SIGN CHIN, NIELSEN: The Notre Dame hockey team signed two Illinois natives-right wing Michael Chin (Urbana) and defenseman Evan Nielsen (Evanston-to national letters of intent during the fall signing period … the addition of Chin and Nielsen would give the 1998-99 Irish roster six players from Illinois, with the others including current junior defenseman Sean Molina (Skokie), junior right wing John Dwyer (Winnetka), sophomore right wing Matt Van Arkel (Richton Park) freshman goaltender Jeremiah Kimento (Palos Hills) … Notre Dame is set to lose six seniors from the current squad, including four regular members of the starting lineup … those players include team captain and RW Brian Urick, LW Aniket Dhadphale D Benoit Cotnoir and G goaltender Forrest Karr.

The 6-2, 200-pound Chin, who graduated from Urbana High School in May of ’98, was the third-leading scorer in the USHL as of mid-December, with 23 goals and 15 assists while helping the Des Moines (IA) Buccaneers post a record of 22-2 … he spent ’97-’98 as a member of the United States under-18 national team in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he was a teammate of current Irish freshman C Brett Henning among the program’s 28 forwards … in 28 games with the national program, Chin totaled seven goals and three assists before joining Henning as two of 14 forwards to make the U.S. playoff roster … Chin previously played for the Shattuck St. Mary’s Midget AAA team (based in Faribault, Minn.) during 1996-97, after playing two seasons for the Illinois-based Northwest Chargers.

Nielsen began his second season at The Taft School (Watertown, Conn.) in early December, after spending his first two years at Evanston (Ill.) High School .. .during his junior season, the 6-2, 195-pound Nielsen had seven goals and six assists while helping Taft place 10th in New England with a record of 14-8 … during the summer of ’97, he was selected as the best defenseman at the prestigious annual Hockey Night in Boston, where he played as a member of the Midwest all-star team that finished as runner-up … Nielsen, who played with the Chicago Young Americans as a seventh and eight grader and was named “best team player” at Evanston as a sophomore, had an invitation to train with the U.S. under-18 national team this season but elected to return to Taft … like Chin, he has past experience playing in the U.S. select-16 and select-17 festivals.

Dave Poulin: “These players meet two crucial needs, providing a proven goalscorer and a skilled defenseman. What’s nice about recruiting this year is that we know our personnel better and have a clearer idea what we need. … Michael is a great goalscorer who has an inate sense of scoring. We will have a considerable scoring void by losing Urick and Dhadphale, so he will play an important role. He is a big kid with great hands who positions himself well and has a great sense of knowing where to go. … Evan is a very skilled defenseman and strong skater who has good size and plays smart on the ice. Adding Evan and Michael reinforces the fact that we’ve been able to attract some quality players from Illinois over the past couple of years and there’s no question that there has been a big increase in the talent level in Illinois.”

NOTRE DAME HOCKEY – Making Strides
(all improvements indicated by a “+”; italics = non-improvement)

               1996-97    1997-98    Change    1998-99    ChangeWins                  9-25-1    18-19-4     +9        9-5-2    Winning pct.          27.1%     48.8%       +21.7%    62.5%      +13.7%One-goal gm    15 (3-12/.200)15 (6-10/.375) +.175  6 (3-3-0/.500)+13.5%Goals per gm         2.63       3.10        +0.47      3.63      +0.53
Shots per game 27.2 30.8 +3.6 30.3 -0.5Shooting pct. 9.7% 10.1% +0.4% 12.0% +1.9%Opponent shots/gm 31.8 27.6 +4.2 25.6 +2.0Shot margin -4.6 +3.2 +7.8 +4.7 +1.5
Power-play pct. 12.7% 17.6% +4.9% 25.0% +9.4%Power-play goals/gm 0.66 (23) 0.95 (39)+0.29 1.38 (22) +0.43Shorthanded goals/gm 0.06 (2) 0.22 (9) +0.16 0.06 (1) -0.16 Penalties per game 8.69 6.37 +2.32 8.81 -2.44
Penalty-killing pct. 81.3% 84.3% +3.0% 81.2% -3.1%Goals-against-avg. 3.73 2.75 +0.98 2.63 +0.12Save pct. 88.2% 89.8% +1.6% 89.8% ----Goal Margin -1.11 +0.29 +1.40 +1.00 +0.71S'handed gls allwd/gm 0.23 (7) 0.07 (3)+0.16 0.13 (2) -0.06
1st period goals/gm 0.66 (23) 0.90 (37) +0.24 1.00 (16) +0.101st period goal margin -0.46 (23-39) +0.24 (37-27) +0.70 +0.44 (16-9) +0.203rd period goals/gm 0.94 (33) 0.90 (37) -0.04 1.38 (22) +0.483rd period goal margin -0.26 (33-42) -0.29 (37-49) -0.03 +0.13 (22-20) +0.42
Ahead at 1st intrmssn 4-5-0 (.444) 11-4-1 (.719) +.275 6-1-1 (.813) +9.4%Ahead at 2nd intrmssn 6-2-0 (.750) 16-5-2 (.739) -.011 7-0-1 (.938) +19.9%

’98-’99 CCHA Standings

                    Overall    CCHA    Points   GF-GA   Power Play   Penalty-Kill    PIM/Gm1.  Michigan          12-2-2    10-1-1    21     50-29     (4) .153    (2) .908    (8) 22.62.  Ferris State       9-5-3     8-3-2    18     49-36     (9) .122    (3) .905    (2) 17.1    Ohio State         8-7-2     8-4-2    18     46-47     (5) .150    (4) .883    (9) 22.24.  Michigan State    11-3-2     7-2-2    16     46-21    (10) .120    (1) .929   (10) 23.55.  Notre Dame         9-5-2     7-5-1    15     58-42     (1) .250    (10) .812   (3) 18.86.  Northern Michigan 11-8-0     7-8-0    14     68-56     (3) .154    (5) .883    (7) 22.07.  Bowling Green      7-7-1     6-6-1    13     52-60     (2) .175    (9) 818     (4) 19.18.  Alaska Fairbanks   5-9-0     4-8-0     8     41-58    (11) .097    (11) .809   (6) 21.9    Western Michigan   1-8-6     1-8-6     8     31-59     (7) .134    (7) .855    (5) 21.910. Miami              3-12-4    2-10-3    7     49-67     (6) .146    (8) .826    (1) 16.511. Lake Superior State 3-9-3    2-7-2     6     33-43     (8) .133    (6) .857   (11) 27.0