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Lucia Has Fond Memories of Lefty Smith

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donlucia.jpg Star Tribune - Gophers coach Don Lucia played for Lefty Smith when Lucia was a defenseman at Notre Dame from 1977-81.

So Lucia was among the many saddened to hear that Smith died on Tuesday night of natural causes at his home in South Bend, Ind. "Everybody that knows Lefty loved him," Lucia said.

Smith coached the Irish for 19 years from 1968 to 1987 and, until retiring last month, was the facility manager of the school's Loftus Sports Center.

"Lefty was not only the hockey coach but he spent more time there not coaching than coaching," Lucia said. "In many ways he was almost an ambassador at Notre Dame.

"When you went in his office, as he managed the football center, you couldn't see the walls. All you saw were pictures of former players and families. That is just the kind of person he was."

Smith, who would have turned 82 on Thursday, had a 307-320-30 record at Notre Dame. His teams were WCHA runners-up in 1973 and '77. He was the WCHA coach of the year in 1973.

Smith's hockey roots were in Minnesota. He graduated from the College at St. Thomas in 1951 and from 1953 to '68 was an assistant and then a head coach at South St. Paul High School.

"He is one of those throwback guys," Lucia said, "and obviously, he is very well connected to our state with his South St. Paul roots and coaching Doug Woog" in high school.

Woog was the Gophers coach that Lucia succeeded in 1999-2000.

Smith knew both Herb Brooks and John Mariucci well, Lucia said, adding; "He's told some good stories playing with John Mariucci [for] the old Millers back in the day."

The Minneapolis Millers were a semi-pro hockey team.

"It is amazing the names and the people that he [knew]," Lucia said.

The rink at Notre Dame's new Compton Family Ice Arena is named in honor of Smith.

The Notre Dame Club of Minnesota had planned to hold a dinner at the University Hotel Minneapolis on Friday to honor Lefty Smith. It undoubtedly will still be held, but will be a more emotional event. Lucia and Irish coach Jeff Jackson are among the scheduled speakers. Tuesday was the deadline for buying tickets.

Charles "Lefty" Smith

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January 5, 1930 - January 3, 2012

Twas the Night Before Christmas ...

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Hear It From a Student - I Love Winning

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1993385220.jpg"I love winning. It's like, you know, better than losing!"

The Notre Dame hockey team can probably sympathize with Nuke LaLoosh, Tim Robbins' character in Bull Durham.

From Oct. 21 to Nov. 25, the Irish went 11 games without losing, playing six ranked teams during that span. A four-game losing streak dropped them to 10-6-3 heading into last Saturday's home game against Ferris State.

The Bulldogs won their end of the home-and-home Friday night, 4-1, but Notre Dame returned the favor Saturday with the same score.

"I think it's a relief for all of us - for our players, for us as a staff," head coach Jeff Jackson said. "After having such a good stretch, the last four games have been pretty miserable."

The Irish were able to revert to their winning ways in a physical game that featured a healthy dose of special teams play. The officials penalized players for a combined 68 minutes, and it was a rare sight to see the boxes empty. The Irish were able to capitalize on two power plays with goals from sophomores Jeff Costello and T.J. Tynan.

"Special teams probably was the biggest difference. Goaltending's a part of that on the penalty kill, but it's also about the power play," Jackson said. "That's what we were doing when we were on a little bit of a roll."

Jackson credited goaltender Steven Summerhays, who kept the Irish ahead during the third period in his fifth start this season. The sophomore improved to 4-1 on the season. With a two-goal lead through most of the third period, Summerhays had several tremendous stops to keep the cushion.

"This was definitely up there for one of my better games for Notre Dame," Summerhays said. "Everyone pitched in and really helped and made me look better than I probably was tonight."

In addition to special teams and goaltending, Notre Dame was successful at accomplishing the little things the team had been successful at during the unbeaten streak. Riley Sheahan's 88 percent face-off advantage increased puck possession. Both Jackson and Summerhays pointed to defensive presence in front of the net, and the Irish were able to get off 63 shot attempts to generate offense.

Hopefully the team will remember the winning formula when it returns from a three-week break for finals and Christmas.

"It was a huge win. Obviously we were on a little bit of a skid and we knew that going into break, we didn't want to go in with another loss," said sophomore Mike Voran, who netted two third-period goals. "You always want to go into a break with a positive note, so having a win, you obviously feel a lot better than if you lost."

In the midst of a frustrating losing streak, Jackson's team proved the ability to win a chippy game by getting back to basics and staying disciplined. With secondary scoring, physical presence, defensive stoutness, and strong goaltending, the Irish can make the proper adjustments to rebound from a skid.

It's like, you know, better than losing.

- Craig Chval ('15)

Get Your FIX

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Live Chat - Hockey vs. Ferris State

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The Irish icers look to start a new home winning streak tonight when Notre Dame welcomes Ferris State to the Compton Family Ice Arena.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Live Chat - Hockey vs. Northeastern

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The Irish take to the ice for the second straight night while facing Northeastern at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Live Chat - Hockey vs. Northeastern

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Notre Dame and Northeastern begin a two-game series tonight at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Hear It From a Student - We Were All Witnesses

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For my entire life, I've heard stories of legendary Irish triumphs.

Ending UCLA's record win streak in '74. Beating Miami en route to the national championship in '88. Defeating top-ranked Florida State five years later. But my chance to witness history in 2005 saw Reggie Bush push USC to victory.

I may have now witnessed my first truly epic Notre Dame win.

By now, you've probably heard about Notre Dame's thrilling overtime victory over Boston College.

The Irish brought their unbeaten streak to nine (7-0-2) with an overtime defeat of No. 3 Boston College. But that sentence is not even close to adequately describing the game.

In short, that was the greatest hockey game I've ever seen ... and it's not even close. The 5,022 spectators witnessed two elite teams playing at the height of their capabilities in a game that required 64:58.9 to decide it. Another second and the fans would have gone home trying to swallow the bitterness of a tie.

I have to admit, when the puck was in the Notre Dame zone with less than 10 seconds remaining, I was preparing myself for that reality as Bryan Rust skated up the ice.

"I was flying through the neutral zone and went up the left wing," said Rust after the game. "I knew there wasn't much time. I cut to the middle, put my head down and just ripped one. I got lucky, and it found its way to trickle into the net."

The clock stalled at 1.1 seconds, and the newly dedicated Compton Family Ice Arena erupted. It was the collective emotional release of a roller-coaster night.

The final period in regulation was an incredible display of skill and athleticism by both teams. Despite playing with a one-goal lead, the Irish outshot Boston College, 14-6, but none of their chances came to fruition. And with just over two minutes remaining, the Eagles tied the score on a rebound.

With no shootout to occur after the game, a tie seemed inevitable as overtime came to a close - until Rust's shot slowly made its way through the pads of Boston College goalie Parker Milner.

As the game came to an end, there was so much to process that I didn't know where to begin. The roller-coaster for me began with the Jim Cornelison-led national anthem (I half-expected a spotlight to shine on the flag like at the United Center) and continued beyond Rust's goal.

There was the toughness against the top-5 team, the solid goaltending by Mike Johnson, the dominating play in the third period, the resilience of the team after losing the lead and the miraculous goal with a second left in overtime.

All this came on Dedication Night at Compton Family Ice Arena, where the Irish are 4-0-0 on the year. On this night Notre Dame proved it deserved its state-of-the-art facility, as well as all its support from the fan base.

"All the students there during warm-ups is awesome," Johnson said. "We love to see that. It makes us excited and probably gets the best game out of us when they're into it. And they were into it tonight, and they helped us win for sure."

When the team moved from the Joyce Center to Compton, that's the type of impact the coaching staff envisioned, and it's starting to materialize for the streaking Irish.

"Tonight was what we hoped this building would be," Jackson said. "I thought I saw it against RPI a little bit, but obviously tonight, the band, the students - that was pretty incredible."

We'll have to wait for the end of the season to evaluate the true impact of this game. At the end of the day, it's just another regular-season non-conference win. But for those 5,022 fans at Compton Arena, it meant a lot more.

And for me, it was hopefully the first of many legendary victories to come.

- Craig Chval ('15)

Thank You, Compton Family

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Event Calendar

January 31
W, 85-62
Wake Forest
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)
RECAP

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HALFTIME PERFORMANCE: Christian Stoinev & Scooby
January 31
W, 5-2
Illinois
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
RECAP

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Live Stats
January 31
W, 7-0
Bowling Green
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
RECAP

WatchND Tennis
Live Stats
January 31
All Day
Alumni Match
Orlando, Fla. (Walt Disney World Resort)
January 31
W 6-0, M 6-0
Northwestern Duals
Notre Dame, IN (Castellan Family Fencing Center)
RECAP
February 1
6:00 PM
Duke
Durham, N.C. (Cameron Indoor Stadium)

ESPN2 - Big Monday
Pulse FM 96.9 92.1 WatchND
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Watch ESPN
Live Stats
February 3
7:00 PM
Miami
BankUnited Center

ESPN2
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Watch ESPN
February 4
7:00 PM
North Carolina State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN3
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
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February 5
7:00 PM
Illinois
Champaign, Illinois (Atkins Tennis Center)
February 5
7:05 PM
Vermont
Burlington, Vt. (Gutterson Fieldhouse)

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February 5
TBA
Meyo Invitational
Notre Dame, Ind.
February 6
7:00 PM
North Carolina
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN
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HALFTIME PERFORMANCE: Red Panda (yes, that Red Panda) PROMOTION: GOLD OUT GIVEAWAY: Gold Poms (All), Gold T-shirts (Students)
February 6
4:00 PM
Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Fla. (D.B. Milne Field)

ESPN3
Live Stats
February 6
7:05 PM
Vermont
Burlington, Vt. (Gutterson Fieldhouse)

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February 6
All Day
Duke Duals
Durham, N.C.
February 6
TBA
Meyo Invitational
Notre Dame, Ind.
February 7
2:00 PM
Louisville
Louisville, Ky. (KFC Yum! Center)

ESPN2
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
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February 7
12:00 PM
Indiana
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)

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Live Stats
February 7
5:30 PM
Ball State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)

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Live Stats
February 8
9:00 PM
Clemson
Bon Secours Wellness Arena

ESPNU
WatchND
February 8
All Day
Yestingsmeier Match Play
Dade City, Fla. (Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club)
February 9
All Day
Yestingsmeier Match Play
Dade City, Fla. (Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club)

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