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Get ready. 2012-13 is going to be an exciting year to be Irish.
Following in the footsteps of Bil Scholl '79 (Ball State), Tom Bowen '83 (Memphis) and Danny White '03 (Buffalo), former Irish hockey player Forrest Karr '99, became the fourth Notre Dame alum to be hired for a new athletic director position in the past six weeks, when Northern Michigan University named him to that post earlier today.
Karr will begin his new gig in the Upper Peninsula (or the "UP" as Michiganders call it) on June 11. The one-time Irish MVP and Academic All-American takes over the Wildcats athletic program after serving in the same role at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since 2005. It's safe to say he should have no difficulty adjusting to the climate in Marquette.
Said NMU President David Haynes regarding Karr's hire:
Forrest Karr is a great fit to be NMU's athletic director. He comes into the position with outstanding leadership and management skills. He understands both NCAA Division I hockey and Division II intercollegiate programs, having been involved with both as a collegian and an administrator. He's been innovative and successful at UAF and has more than enough motivation and creativity to take Wildcat athletics to the next level of success. Forrest received tremendous support from all of the NMU groups that interacted with him during the interview process.
Read more on Karr on the NMU website.
Bowen, a theology and sociology major while at ND, was actually hired at Memphis on the same day Scholl was introduced in Muncie. The former San Jose State AD will also begin his new position next month.
- Josh Flynt ('11)
Following a particular college or university is a pastime for all sports fans as they go through their stages of adolescence. Whether it be where their parents went, where they live or just an obsession with a particular team for no apparent reason, all fans share random, common bonds with people who may be miles away.
As a child I grew up watching the 'Old Ball Coach' roam the sidelines for the Florida Gators (dad's alma mater), Tom Coverdale run the point for the Indiana Hoosiers (childhood team) and Autry Denson and Jarious Jackson run the option for the Irish (location). As I got older, the times and games I remembered turned in to moments in which to this day I have not forgotten.
Moments are what make us as sports fans keep coming back for more, albeit there were just over 28,000 paying customers in attendance at Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buerhle's perfect game in 2009, as time goes by there will be 100,000 people claiming they were at Comiskey Park (I have and always will call it by this name) that day. I am not a fan of this particular Chicago area sports team, yet I will always remember where I was and whom I was with when this great moment took place.
I have many great and historic moments that I remember from the past 20-some years I have been a fan of Notre Dame. I have recollections that I would rather forget (Jackson's safety against LSU in 1998 in which he hurt his ankle and was out the following week) and those in which I wish I could relive over and over (Notre Dame women's basketball team taking down #1 UConn in 2001 at the Joyce en route to the program's first NCAA title). For both of those games, I remember where I was (Jackson's injury - celebrating Thanksgiving in Indianapolis, women's basketball vs. UConn - at game behind basket in first row).
This past athletic season had a fair share of 'Notre Dame Moments' in which I was able to witness; here are my top five ...
5. Frank Dyer, The All-American Guy
NCAA Men's Swimming Championships
March 24, 2012
In the 53 years of men's swimming at Notre Dame, the Irish have accomplished a lot - five BIG EAST Championships, five BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors and over 50 all-BIG EAST honorees - yet they had never had any swimmer garner national All-American recognition, until Frank Dyer's swim in Federal Way, Wash., this past season.
Dyer had been training all year long for the opportunity to make his mark in Notre Dame swimming lore. On a Friday evening in late March, he got his opportunity. As he stepped upon the blocks in the 200 freestyle finals, Dyer had the weight of the entire program on his back and he didn't disappoint.
The gun went off and just one minute and 34 seconds later, Notre Dame had its first All-American, Frank Dyer.
4. Freeby Calls Bull's Shot
Baseball vs. Pittsburgh
March 23, 2012
It may not have been George Herman Ruth calling his shot or even Jake Taylor, but Notre Dame baseball radio announcer Chuck Freeby opined between innings on the broadcast that the Irish would defeat the Panthers in the bottom half of the ninth inning on a home run from freshman Ryan Bull.
What happened next was truly amazing as Bull hit his first career home run at the exact time in which Freeby 'called it.'
3. Squeezing The Orange
Men's Basketball vs. #1 Syracuse
January 21, 2012
On a cold January day, the Irish, with a record of 11-8, welcomed the undefeated Syracuse Orange into Purcell Pavilion for a BIG EAST conference clash.
As the game wore on, Notre Dame played more like the Harlem Globetrotters to Syracuse's Washington Generals.
Building a lead as big as 18 points, the Irish went on to win 67-58 in front of a sold-out crowd. This was the eighth time that the men's basketball program had knocked off the top-ranked team in the AP poll in its history.
2. Big Shot Britt
Women's Basketball vs. Connecticut
April 1, 2012
In the fourth meeting on the season between the two squads, the teams went back and forth throughout much of the game.
The Irish squandered a five-point lead late to find themselves down two with just under-10 seconds to play when Skylar Diggins drove the length of the court and put up a runner in the lane, the attempt would miss and fall in the hands of senior Natalie Novosel. After gathering the rebound, Novosel put the ball up on a reverse lay-up, to see the ball drop with just a few seconds left on the clock to send the game to overtime.
The Irish found themselves down, three, early in overtime. That's when senior Brittany Mallory, who was shooting 1-11 in NCAA Championship play prior, was found in the corner for an open three, which she calmly drained.
After a rebound on the defensive end, Diggins quickly pushed the ball up the court and again found Mallory on the wing for another trey. The clutch play from their scrappy, sharpshooting senior would catapult the Irish to their second NCAA Championship game in as many years.
1. The Dedication Game (Holy War on Ice)
Hockey vs. Boston College
November 18, 2011
Taking part on the Friday night before their respective football teams clashed in the 'Holy War' on the gridiron, the hockey squads took to the ice for the 'Dedication Game' of the 50-million dollar Compton Family Ice Arena.
The sold-out crowd of 5,022 was treated to one of my favorite moments of my time at Notre Dame as the longtime tenor for the Chicago Blackhawks, Jim Cornelison (an Indiana University graduate), bellowed the National Anthem and kicked off a night full of moments.
This 'Notre Dame Moment' looked like something right out of the third Mighty Ducks when Bryan Rust capped off the game with a sudden-death victory goal with just 1.1 seconds left in overtime to give the Irish the 3-2 win.
These are just a few of the great Irish athletics moments from the past year. Every particular moment has its key players - Ryan Bull, Brittany Mallory, Frank Dyer - but the big question in sports has always been, "how will history remember you?" I'm sorry to say to all the athletes out there, it's not always your full athletic body of work that gets you remembered, sometimes it's just that one 'moment' where everything seems to come together and 20 years from now everyone is still talking about it, and all of Irish nation claims to have been there in person.
As the ghost of George Herman (Babe) Ruth told Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez, "Heroes get remembered, but Legends never die."
- Aaron Horvath
Entering game two of the second-round CCHA series, Notre Dame's main focus Saturday was to shake off the previous night's heartbreaking double-overtime loss and force a game three.
Instead, the Irish likely saw their season end with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of conference rival Michigan.
"Both teams were probably a little tired, but our emotions were probably a little bit more drained," head coach Jeff Jackson said. "Losing a game late like that is like giving up a goal in the last minute of play. It's just a challenging emotional situation."
By all early indications, game two looked like it might be another low-scoring affair in the mold of the 83-minute thriller of the first matchup. But this time four goals came in a span of 14 minutes, and the Wolverines took the series.
Michigan didn't record a shot on goal in the first five minutes, and Wolverine goalie Shawn Hunwick was his usual self, stuffing early shots from Anders Lee and Mike Voran, in addition to denying David Gerths' breakaway chance.
The first tally of the game didn't come until there was 1:07 left in the first, when Michigan forward David Wohlberg scored his first of two goals. It was also the beginning of a scoring outburst that surpassed the previous night's total in just 34 minutes.
After goals by Michigan's Di Giuseppe and Wohlberg, Michigan had a 3-0 lead 12:09 into the second period, but Irish freshman Peter Schneider answered with a goal of his own 19 seconds later.
"Jeff Costello had a great forecheck on the defenseman, and then Riley and I had a two-on-one," Schneider said. "Riley Sheahan made a great pass, and I just put it into the open net.
"Our season was on the line, so I think everybody was playing with energy tonight - it was all or nothing."
However, Michigan's cushion was enough in the end, despite a furious third-period rally. Notre Dame outshot its opponent 12-4 in the period, including seven tries from right next to the net. For the second consecutive night, Hunwick proved too good to solve.
Over the weekend, the fifth-year senior allowed two goals on 64 shots with nearly 143 minutes of ice time. Hunwick's .969 save percentage in the series well surpassed his season average of .934, which was good for fourth-best in the country.
"You've got to get traffic to the net. You've got to get people in front of him. He sees everything, but Michigan does a good job of blocking shots," Jackson said. "The goal that we did score - you can't stop that. If you move the puck and break people down defensively, then you get good goal-scoring opportunities and rebounds where he's out of position."
Ranked 18th in the PairWise Rankings before the weekend, the Irish will most likely not participate in the NCAA tournament. If so, this series was a tough ending to the collegiate careers of Notre Dame's seniors.
"It's a great group of kids," Jackson said. "They're quality kids - they're great representatives of our university. I'd be proud to call any of those kids my own sons because of the type of kids they are."
- Craig Chval ('15)
Taking advantage of a Notre Dame turnover, Michigan forward Phil Di Giuseppe blasted a shot toward Irish goalie Steven Summerhays. The puck skipped past the sophomore, bounced off the post and was redirected by Wolverine captain Luke Glendening. And just like that - 1:08 into the game - Michigan had a 1-0 lead.
More than 82 minutes - and 39 saves - later, Summerhays finally surrendered another goal, and the Wolverines took the game 2-1 in double overtime off a Chris Brown one-timer. Michigan now leads the second round CCHA playoff series 1-0.
"I let in one that I probably want back," Summerhays said. "But the team came back and scored a goal for me, and I worked hard the rest of the game trying to fight to see pucks, and I thought we did a good job playing the puck in front of me."
In a matchup filled with hard hits, transition chances and iron-glancing shots, goaltending was the story as it appeared the battle between Summerhays and Shawn Hunwick would never end.
Hunwick went more than 48 minutes without giving up a goal, finally allowing the equalizer off the stick of Anders Lee. The goal was the highlight of a dominant third period, during which the Irish outshot Michigan 11-5. None of the Michigan shots on goal for the period was from within 30 feet of the net.
"He's a warrior, and he's done everything he can for this team and this program and there's another example tonight," Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. "We wouldn't have been in overtime if it weren't for Shawn Hunwick."
Despite the low score, both sides were not without opportunity. Twice - in the second period and first overtime - Michigan had pipe-hitting shots reviewed, but came away empty both times. In the closing seconds of the second period, Maday had an open shot hit a post as well. When skaters actually were hitting the net, they were almost always stuffed by Hunwick or Summerhays.
The lone Irish goal only came directly after Mike Voran had two breakaway chances saved by Hunwick. The Notre Dame attack continued for the rest of the period, but Hunwick stood on his head the rest of the way.
"It's frustrating we're not scoring on good chances, but Shawn made huge saves for us that kept us in the game," Glendening said. "He kind of stole that game for us, I guess - he played outstanding."
The hero of the first overtime period, Summerhays came up with one sensational save after another, fending off a Michigan attack that outshot the Irish 14-9 in the period.
"It's playoff hockey, and especially in college, you're goalie has to be your best player. I'm not saying I'm the best player, but I wanted to give my team a chance to win tonight," Summerhays said. "They had a lot of shots in that first power play in overtime. Guys were clearing bodies out and letting me see the puck and worry about tracking the rebound."
Although Michigan took game one of the 83-minute marathon, the Irish will look to come back and take the remaining two of the best-of-three series against the conference foe. It is likely the 18th-ranked Irish will need to win the series to make the 16-team NCAA tournament.
"The toughest thing in hockey, especially in college, is ending a team's season, so Michigan's got to come and end our season," Summerhays said. "We feel like we did a lot of good things tonight. We had a lot of momentum towards the end of that game. It was an even game both ways, so tomorrow's up for grabs."
- Craig Chval ('15)
In his first 22 career starts, Steven Summerhays had never recorded a shutout for Notre Dame.
But late in the season, the sophomore goalie has emerged as a force for the Irish, shutting out Michigan State (Feb. 24) and Ohio State (March 2) in back-to-back starts. Following his performance in game one of the best-of-three set with the Buckeyes, Summerhays earned first-star honors again in the 4-2 clincher last Saturday night.
Over those three games, his .978 save percentage far surpasses his .908 average. His two wins this weekend secured a victory in the first-round of the CCHA tournament.
"He's playing with confidence right now," head coach Jeff Jackson said. "The thing I've been clamoring for all year is consistency. I was curious to see when we gave up the early goal tonight how he'd respond, and he responded very well.
"He's had a good streak here the last couple times he's played. I thought he could have had a problem [Saturday], but I thought he responded, came back and made some huge saves for us at key points in the game."
Summerhays probably received a major confidence boost in the second period Friday, when Ohio State had two men close to the net. Despite the huge scoring chance, the Buckeyes were denied on a diving highlight-reel save that got the crowd roaring.
"When you make a big save, the whole entire crowd and the bench is going, and I think Johns and a couple other guys were yelling at me from the ice," Summerhays said. "It's a good feeling - it gives you more confidence for the rest of the game. It's just like anybody else making a big hit or scoring a goal."
Thanks in part to Summerhays, the Irish have won three of their last four in time for the postseason. Ranked 18th in the USCHO.com poll, Notre Dame sits on the bubble of the 16-team NCAA tournament.
"I think it's the way we start games and being able to sustain the same momentum for longer periods of time," said senior co-captain Billy Maday, who tallied three goals on the weekend. "Scoring the first goal is something I think our team needs and we've been able to do that recently.
"I think we've matured a little bit. And aside from that, I think we recognize that these games are really important, and our team responds to pressure pretty well."
This Irish squad knows a little about playing with pressure. As a three seed in the NCAA tournament last year, Notre Dame reached the Frozen Four before losing to eventual champion Minnesota-Duluth 4-3.
"I think this is the first time it really felt like last year," said sophomore Mike Voran, who scored the game-winning goal Saturday. "Obviously, it's a brand new year, and we kind of want to separate ourselves from last year, but you remember how fun it was to make a run.
"We're excited. I think we're coming together as a team at the perfect time. You know, you can feel it on the bench. Guys were up, guys were getting up for each other, whether it's a first-line guy, fourth-line guy - everyone was pulling their weight."
That's something the Irish have missed at times this season - secondary scoring. In the regular season, nearly 30 percent of the team's goals came from just two players: sophomores Anders Lee and T.J. Tynan.
But with goals from Maday, Voran, Lee and sophomore Jeff Costello, scoring came from three different lines over the two games. Four of the six goals came from the third line of Voran, Maday and sophomore David Gerths.
"I was playing them up against their top line at times tonight, so I don't really look at any of those three lines as being a third line. But it helps a lot when you get some depth in your scoring, and that's something we've lacked most of the year," said Jackson. "That's how you're going to win, because you're not going to see a lot of 3-, 4-goal games in the playoffs. It's tough."
After Notre Dame's first series sweep since November, the Irish will try to advance to the CCHA tournament semifinals in Detroit. Standing in their way is second-seeded foe Michigan, with whom the Irish split a series at home in January.
"I think the first 10 minutes of the first game are going to be huge," said Voran. "When you're on the road, you definitely want to pick up the first game. You go down one game on the road, and the fans get into it. Just being mentally prepared and the first 10 minutes are I think the biggest things we need to focus on."
Round two of the CCHA tournament will take place this Friday and Saturday at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich., with a game three on Sunday if necessary.
- Craig Chval ('15)
Way back in October, Ohio State spoiled the final hockey game in the Joyce Center, defeating Notre Dame, 4-3. But now, that game is a distant memory. Here we are in March, at the incredible Compton Family Ice Arena, and the Irish just took two straight from the Buckeyes to sweep the first round CCHA playoff series.
After a 2-0 victory on Friday night, Notre Dame posted a 4-2 win on Saturday in front of a crowd of 4,202.
Head coach Jeff Jackson's team will advance to next week's second round where they will take on a to-be-determined opponent.
Maybe it was just typical playoff hockey or maybe both teams forgot the boxing tournament was across the street. On the night Notre Dame held the 82nd annual Bengal Bouts finals, the Irish and Buckeyes played a very physical game, combining for 14 penalties, including 11 in the first two periods.
The Buckeyes struck twice in the first period, getting an early goal from Sean Duddy and a late score by Danny Dries. Notre Dame's Jeff Costello tied it at one midway through the period on an assist from Kevin Lind.
In the second, Anders Lee scored his first goal of the playoffs, assisted by T.J. Tynan and Bryan Rust. Lee's score knotted the game at two, and the Irish took the lead just under seven minutes later when Mike Voran found the back of the net.
The officials reviewed Voran's goal, but the call on the ice stood and Notre Dame pulled in front, 3-2. David Gerths and Bill Maday were credited with assists on Voran's second goal of the playoffs.
It was a frantic finish, as Notre Dame needed to come up with a pair of crucial penalty kills to hang onto a one-goal lead. Momentum shifted back in the Irish's favor when OSU's Travis Statchuk was whistled for a two-minute boarding penalty with just 2:38 to play.
Much to the delight of the home crowd, Maday, the senior captain sealed the victory on an empty-net power play goal with 50 seconds remaining.
A night after stopping 33 shots in a shutout win, Steven Summerhays registered 31 saves and was named the #1 star of the game (Voran and Maday were second and third, respectively).
After a few bumps in the road, Notre Dame closed out the inaugural season at CFIA on a high note, taking three out of its final four home games, and coming up with two big playoff wins to keep its season alive.
We'll have to wait and see how the other first round CCHA playoffs finish up, but either way, the Irish are moving on and have to excited about how they played this weekend.
Stay tuned to UND.com for more coverage from tonight's series clincher.
- Josh Flynt ('11)
There's no season like the post-season. After a 2-0 victory last night, the Irish look to win the first round CCHA series tonight against Ohio State.
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