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When Notre Dame announced last month that the Fighting Irish hockey team would be moving to the Hockey East beginning in 2013-14, it also announced that home games would be televised on the NBC Sports Network. Though that television deal does not kick off until Notre Dame begins play in the Hockey East, fans will have an opportunity to catch the Irish on national television when they host Boston University on Dec. 31. Earlier today, NBC Sports Group announced a 16-game collegiate hockey package, which launches on New Year's Eve at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The Irish will face off against the Terriers in what will be one of the final broadcasts on Versus, before it is officially re-branded as the NBC Sports Network on Jan. 2. The weather is still nice here in South Bend and I am in no hurry to rush the holiday season, but this announcement should give fans an early look at Irish hockey on the NBC Sports Network, and something to look forward to while preparing to ring in 2012. Visit College Hockey News for a complete schedule of NBC's college broadcasts.
- Linebacker Manti Te'o was named one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Football Club announced Tuesday ... the Bednarik Award is presented to college football's best defensive player ... Te'o leads the Irish with 82 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and four and a half sacks ... he has already set career highs this year in tackles for loss and sacks ... Te'o has recorded at least 10 tackles in six of eight games this year and he leads the Irish in solo tackles, assisted tackles and tackles on running plays ... among all middle or inside linebackers in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, Te'o ranks tied for first in solo tackles for loss, tied for first in solo sacks, second in total sacks,second in total tackles for loss, second in tackles for loss per game and third in sacks per game. - The LSU-Alabama game this weekend has prompted lots of revisiting of previous No. 1 vs. No. 2 college games ... SI.com's Richard Rothschild rated the best previous regular-season collisions based on quality of the game, impact on the season and long-term ramifications - and he put 1946 Notre Dame-Army 10th on his list, 1966 Notre Dame-Michigan State sixth and 1993 Notre Dame-Florida State fifth. - Through eight games, Notre Dame's Tommy Rees has completed 179 passes for an average of 22.375 per game ... if Rees continues that pace and the Irish play 13 games, Rees would finish with 291 completions - one short of Brady Quinn's Notre Dame single-season record of 292 from 2005 ... Rees has played only about the equivalent of one full season, but his career .641 pass completion percentage is the best in Notre Dame history ... he needs one more TD pass to match (1943 Heisman Trophy winner) Angelo Bertelli's career total and four more to catch Joe Theismann at 31. - Michael Floyd ranks second nationally among active players in career pass receptions and career reception yards ... through eight games he has caught 63 balls - for an average of 7.875 per game ... if he continues that pace and the Irish play 13 games he would finish with 102 catches (which would easily eclipse Golden Tate's Irish single-season record of 93 from 2009) ... Floyd currently has 1,025 receiving yards (128.125 per game) - which would project to 1,665 over 13 games (better than Tate's single-season Notre Dame record of 1,496 from 2009). - Saturday is the seventh annual National College Football Day, originally created by the Cotton Bowl Classic. - Anders Lee has been selected as the RBC Financial Group CCHA Player of the Month for October ... the 6-3, 227-pound left wing has helped the fourth-ranked Irish get off to a strong 5-2 start this season as he has scored at least one goal in all seven games, with a two-goal effort and a hat trick thrown in for good measure ... after seven contests, Lee leads both the conference and the nation with 10 goals and has added three assists for 13 points.
After last weekend's sweep at Bowling Green, the Irish hockey team returned to South Bend with a 5-2-0 overall record, gratitude for their new arena and a fresh feeling of normalcy. The team hits the road again this weekend to face Northern Michigan (Nov. 4-5). "We love playing in our new facility but it's important to get some road games under our belt and recognize how to play in other buildings and atmospheres," says senior captain Billy Maday. "We've been able to practice at the Compton here for a while now so I think it'll be good for our team to once again experience the other CCHA environments a little bit more." "Getting away from Notre Dame and then to return back to a place where it's just us and the other team is a good thing," says junior goaltender Mike Johnson. "It helps to get away from the distractions and focus on purely the games." After constant shuffling between the Joyce Center and Compton Family Ice Arean in the early months of the season, the hockey team's new home allows for a more permanent regimen - a regimen greatly appreciated by the team. "It took a while to get back in the swing of things," senior captain Sean Lorenz admits. "Now that we're settled in the new place, we're starting to get our energy back and the younger guys are getting into a rhythm." A customary week for the hockey team consists of early morning workouts, daily practices, meetings and team dinners. The new arena provides the team with the amenities necessary to thrive as student-athletes, including study rooms and dining areas. While consecutive weekends on the road at Bowling Green and Northern Michigan rid the Irish of the comfort of home, they also provide ideal time for team bonding. "It definitely feels normal again. We're done with preseason and it feels good to get back on the road again. As a team, going on the road and getting that time to hang out with each other really sets a good tone for the games," says Johnson. The new ice arena lends a sense of ease to underclassmen as they become familiar with the rigorous schedule demanded of student-athletes. On the other hand, it is a constant reminder to the senior class that their time here is limited. "They built something special here," Lorenz says. "I've been to every other rink in our league and quite a few around the country. This is definitely one of the best and it makes you appreciate it that much more. The seniors from last year didn't get to experience this. We are just so lucky it was finished for us. It'll be sad to leave but we'll hopefully go out with a bang." - Hilary Ferguson (Saint Mary's '12)
Yesterday, the NCAA released Graduation Success Rates for Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Of those 120 institutions, Notre Dame achieved the best marks, with 18 of 22 Irish athletic teams achieving 100 GSR scores. Notre Dame was one of only eight institutions to have at least 50 percent of teams achieve perfection. The Notre Dame football team achieved a 97 GSR, the highest among FBS schools. Northwestern, Boston College, Duke, Rice and the U.S. Naval Academy were the only other institutions with at least 90 or higher. In addition, both the men's and women's basketball teams were among the programs with perfect GSR scores. The hockey team achieved a 95 GSR rating, second only to Air Force. This release from the NCAA probably comes as no surprise to most people at Notre Dame. Still, it is news that should make anyone associated with the university and athletic department proud. The university and its rabid fan base, alumni and student body expect to contend for and win championships, and Notre Dame has, in several sports. However, football is king for many people, and a lot of fans won't be satisfied until the Irish are hoisting that crystal ball in January. However, in the age of NCAA sanctions, player suspensions, reduced scholarships and bowl ineligibility, Notre Dame continues to do it the right way. Notre Dame graduates its players. Notre Dame is committed to both academic and athletic excellence. And Notre Dame is not going to sacrifice its core values in the pursuit of titles, trophies and other accolades. At Notre Dame, athletes are not just quarterbacks, forwards, shortstops, jumpers, swimmers and goalies, but future doctors, lawyers and business people, getting the job done in the classroom. They are student-athletes. Most of them will "go pro in something other than sports." It has been quite some time since Notre Dame has even been in the discussion for a football national championship, but the Irish are slowly progressing towards those goals, and will make it back to the BCS conversation. In the meantime, take pride in the fact that Notre Dame represents the good in college sports. - Josh Flynt ('11)