The 2015-16 hockey season marks University of Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson's 11th season behind the Irish bench. During his first 10 seasons, the program has enjoyed a great deal of success. The highly regarded Jackson now has over 29 years of coaching experience.
Notre Dame's Jeff Jackson era began in 2005 when the University searched for a man who could move the program among the elite hockey schools in the country.
The veteran coach owned a resume packed with success at the collegiate, junior hockey, professional and international levels. Throughout his coaching career, Jackson's teams had been successful both on and off the ice and the hope was that he could deliver those same qualities at Notre Dame.
After 10 seasons, it's safe to say the Irish hit a home run with the selection of the popular coach.
During his 10-year run, Notre Dame has become one of the nation's top teams, winning the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's (CCHA) regular-season title twice (2006-07 and 2008-09) while earning three Mason Cup championships (`07, `09 and the final one in 2013). Then in 2013-14, the team's first season in Hockey East, the Irish upset the conference's top team - Boston College - in the quarterfinals to advance to Boston's TD Garden for the Hockey East semifinals.
During Jackson's tenure, his teams have made six trips to the NCAA Tournament (2006-09, 2010-11 and 2012-14), advancing to the Frozen Four twice, playing in the 2008 title game and the 2011 national semifinals.
Since his second season at Notre Dame (2006-07), Jackson's program has been among the top programs in the nation in wins and winning percentage, going 213-125-36 (.618) over the nine-year span.
Between 2006-09, the Irish turned in win totals of 32, 27 and 31 for three consecutive seasons of 25 or more wins and three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, a first in program history.
Jackson's success on the ice also has had a major impact off the ice for the Irish. With the wins came a commitment from the University that led to the new home of Irish hockey - The Compton Family Ice Arena - one of the finest college hockey facilities in the nation. The new venue opened for business on Oct. 21, 2011.
Since Jackson's arrival, the Irish have had 30 players selected in the National Hockey League Entry Draft, including three first round selections. In that same span, 20 players from USA Hockey's National Team Developmental Program have matriculated to Notre Dame.
During his tenure, the Irish have had five players garner All-America honors -- Robbie Russo in 2015, Anders Lee in 2013, Ian Cole and Erik Condra in 2009 and David Brown in 2007. In addition, 12 of Jackson's players have gone on to play in the NHL.
Jackson enters the 2015-16 season with a 16-year collegiate record of 408-196-65 for a .658 winning percentage, the second-best percentage among all active Division I coaches with five years or more in Division I. His 408 career wins rank seventh among active coaches.
AT NOTRE DAME
In 2014-15, Jackson led a young team, which regularly dressed seven or eight freshmen, that jelled as the year progressed en route to an 18-19-5 record. The team defeated three top-10 teams in February, including eventual national champion Providence and eventual national runner-up Boston University. Benefitting from the stronger second half to the season, Notre Dame finished 10-7-5 in Hockey East games, placing fifth of 12 teams. The Irish lineup in 2014--15 featured 10 NHL draftees, tying for third-most nationally and standing as the top sum in Hockey East.
After tying for the national lead in goals scored among defensemen, Russo was rewarded for his stellar 2014-15 season by being named an AHCA Second Team (East) All-American. Russo tied for the national lead among defensemen with 15 goals, while his 41 points ranked second among blue liners. A First Team All-Hockey East selection, Russo led the conference in both goals and points by a defenseman. Freshman goaltender Cal Petersen turned in a spectacular second half of the season, earning either the league's player of the week, defensive player of the week or rookie of the week honor for five consecutive weeks between Feb. 9 and March 9. Highlighting that streak was his NCAA Division I record 87-save performance in Notre Dame's 4-3 quintuple overtime loss to Massachusetts in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. Petersen recorded four shutouts in 2014--15, tying the Notre Dame freshman record and tying for the Hockey East lead. His four shutouts also ranked second in the nation among freshmen.
Hockey East proved to be the country's top conference in 2014--15 and two of its six best came from Notre Dame as both forward Vince Hinostroza and Russo earned first-team all-conference accolades. The coupling of Hinostroza and Russo marked the first time that Notre Dame had two first-team all-conference picks in the same season since 1976--77. Additionally, Petersen earned league recognition as he was named as the goaltender on the Hockey East all-rookie team.
Notre Dame joined the Hockey East Association for the 2013-14 season. In conference play, the Irish were 9-9-2 to finish eighth. Overall the team was 23-15-2 and finished the year ranked 11th in both national polls.
To open the postseason, Notre Dame won the one-game, first-round contest versus Boston University at home to advance to the Hockey East quarterfinals versus top-ranked Boston College. At Conte Forum, the Irish took the best-of-three series, two games to one, winning 7-2 in the opener, dropping a 4-2 decision in game two before winning the deciding game by a 4-2 verdict.
In the Hockey East semifinals at the TD Garden (Boston, Massachusetts) Notre Dame fell to eventual champion, UMass Lowell, by a 4-0 score.
The Irish were the No. 2 seed in the NCAA West Regional in Minneapolis, Minn. There the season came to an end for the second consecutive year at the hands of the St. Cloud State Huskies, as the Irish lost a 4-3 overtime thriller.
Jackson and his 2012-13 team closed out the final season of play in the CCHA by finishing second in the regular-season standings before going on to win the final CCHA postseason championship at Joe Louis Arena.
The Irish finished the year with a 25-13-3 overall mark and were 17-8-3-3 in conference play to finish three points behind first-place Miami in the regular season.
Notre Dame defeated Bowling Green, two games to one in the quarterfinals, before downing Ohio State and Michigan by identical 3-1 scores in Detroit. The win over Michigan in the title game marked the third time that Notre Dame had knocked off the Wolverines in a CCHA championship contest and was the fifth win on the year against Michigan.
The Irish would go on to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Midwest Regional in Toledo, Ohio, where they dropped a 5-1 decision to St. Cloud State in the opening game.
The 2012-13 season was a bounce-back year for Notre Dame, as the team experienced a wild rollercoaster ride in 2011-12 season, going 19-18-3 for the season while tying for eighth in the CCHA with a 12-13-3 conference mark. The Irish defeated Ohio State in the first round of the playoffs before being ousted in the quarterfinals by Michigan.
In 2010-11 Notre Dame went on a magical run to the Frozen Four. The Irish were 25-14-5 overall while leading the CCHA until the final week of the season. They finished 18-7-3-2 in the conference and finished second to Michigan by two points.
After dropping both games in the CCHA Tournament, the Irish got hot in the NCAA Tournament, winning the Northeast Regional with victories over Merrimack (4-3 in overtime) and New Hampshire (2-1) to advance to the Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minn.
There, Notre Dame fell in the semifinals to eventual NCAA champion Minnesota Duluth with a 4-3 loss.
In 2011, Jackson was selected as the CCHA coach of the year for the third time (`90-'91, `06-'07 and `10-'11) and was a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach of the year.
The Frozen Four run in 2011 erased the memories of a disappointing 2009-10 season for Notre Dame as the Irish struggled, battling injuries and a scoring slump on the way to a 13-17-8 overall record and a 9-12-7-2 mark in the CCHA that put the Irish ninth in the conference. The 2008-09 campaign was a season to remember as Notre Dame won its second conference title and playoff title in three years.
After a 2-3-0 start, it would be three months before the Irish would lose again as they went on a 20-game unbeaten streak (17-0-3), from Oct. 31 to Jan. 17, while being number one in the nation for seven consecutive weeks for the second time in the program's history.
After seeing the streak stopped, Notre Dame lost just one more time during the `08-'09 regular season. The Irish ended the regular season and the CCHA tournament on a 10-game winning streak.
Notre Dame finished first in the conference with a 21-4-3-3 mark, eight points ahead of second-place Miami and Michigan.
The Irish advanced to Joe Louis Arena for the third consecutive year by beating Nebraska Omaha in the second round of the playoffs. They then knocked off Northern Michigan, 2-1, in the semifinals and rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Michigan for the CCHA title in a 5-2 victory. Notre Dame went into the NCAA Tournament as the top seed in the Midwest Regional and was upset in the opening round by Bemidji State, 5-1. The 31 wins were the second most by a Notre Dame hockey team and the Irish had the lowest goals-against average in the nation (1.71) for the second time in three years.
In 2007-08 the Irish were 27-16-4 and finished fourth in the CCHA with a 15-9-4 mark. They advanced to the CCHA Tournament in Detroit, but lost to Miami in the semifinals and Northern Michigan in the third-place contest.
The last at-large team to make the NCAA tournament, Notre Dame's offense came to life when it counted.
Advancing to the NCAA West Regional, the Irish knocked off New Hampshire, 7-3, in the first game of the weekend and then stopped Michigan State, 3-1, to win the region, becoming the first fourth-seeded team to advance to the NCAA Frozen Four.
At the Frozen Four, Jackson's squad upset No. 1-ranked Michigan, 5-4, in overtime to move to the national championship game versus Boston College. The Eagles ended the magical ride with a 4-1 victory in Denver.
After going 13-19-4 in his first season behind the bench in 2005-06, Jackson's 2006-07 team got the ball rolling towards Irish hockey success.
During that season, Notre Dame set school records for overall wins (32) and CCHA victories (21) on the way to capturing the school's first-ever CCHA regular-season and tournament championships.
For the first time in the program's history, the Irish were ranked No. 1 in the nation, holding that lofty perch for seven straight weeks. They made their second appearance in the NCAA championship (first as a No. 1 seed) and won their first tournament game.
For his successful season behind the Irish bench, Jackson was named the CCHA coach of the year and the winner of the Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach of the year.
The 60-year-old bench boss took over the Notre Dame hockey program on May 6, 2005, as the fourth coach since the program's Division I inception in 1968. For Jackson, it was a return to his roots - coaching at the collegiate level - as he got his start behind the bench at Lake Superior State.
He inherited a team that struggled through a difficult 5-27-6 season in 2004-05. The Roseville, Michigan native and his staff went right to work to change the team's attitude and perception. They made giant strides on and off the ice in that first season directing the team's fortunes.
After a slow start (3-9-1), his players began to buy into what the new coach was selling and the Irish finished the year with a 10-10-3 mark over the final 23 games. In CCHA play the Irish showed a 15-point improvement over 2004-05 - going from 3-20-5 to 11-13-4 - good for eighth place in the league and the final home-ice spot in the CCHA playoffs. Only Miami made a bigger jump in 2005-06 with a 16-point improvement.
In Jackson's first 10 seasons, the Irish have played with poise and discipline, relying on team defense, strong goaltending and excellent special teams play. They also laid the foundation for future seasons with major success on the recruiting trail.
In taking over the Irish coaching duties in 2005, Jackson became the first Notre Dame head coach to have won an NCAA Division I championship with another program before being hired as an Irish head coach.
AT LAKE SUPERIOR STATE
Success is nothing new for Jackson at the NCAA Division I level. In six years as the head coach at Lake Superior State (1990-96), Jackson's teams won two NCAA titles in 1992 and 1994 (also advancing to the finals in 1993), two CCHA regular-season championships (1991 and 1996) and four CCHA Mason Cup trophies (1991, 1992, 1993 and 1995).
Jackson got his start in college hockey as an assistant coach at Lake Superior State in 1986 where he served four years under Frank Anzalone, helping guide the Lakers to one CCHA championship and the 1988 NCAA title.
When Anzalone moved to the pro ranks following the 1989-90 season, Jackson took over as the head coach and in a six-year span (1991-96) guided them to six consecutive NCAA appearances, including three straight trips to the title game.
In his first season behind the Lakers' bench, Jackson's squad was 33-10-3 overall and 26-2-4 in league play, winning the CCHA regular-season and tournament titles. The Lakers lost in the NCAA quarterfinals to Clarkson, two games to one.
A year later, Lake Superior State ran off its second 30-plus win season under Jackson, going 30-9-4 on the year, while finishing second in the league with a 20-8-4 mark. The Lakers advanced through the NCAA Tournament to knock off Wisconsin (5-3) in Albany, N.Y., in the first of three trips to the Frozen Four. The Lakers were 32-8-5 during the 1992-93 season and finished third in the CCHA with a 20-5-5 record. They captured the league's tournament title by beating Miami, 3-0, in the finals at Joe Louis Arena. Lake Superior State defeated Minnesota-Duluth in the West Regional to advance to the finals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There the Lakers defeated Boston University in the semifinals before falling to Maine in the finals, 5-4.
Lake Superior State didn't dwell on the loss to Maine as the Lakers rebounded with a 31-10-4 record and a second-place CCHA finish in 1993-94. After losing to Michigan in the CCHA title game, Jackson's team rebounded by winning overtime games versus Northeastern (6-5), Michigan (5-4) and Harvard (3-2) to face Boston University in the title game in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Lakers bounced the Terriers, 9-1, to record their second championship in three years.
Jackson's Lakers followed their second championship season in 1994-95 with a 23-12-6 record and won their fourth CCHA tournament title. In the NCAA tournament, they lost to Boston University in the Regional final.
In his final season in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Jackson saw the Lakers return to the 30-win plateau, going 30-8-2 overall, winning their second regular-season title with a 22-6-2 mark. Lake Superior State lost to Michigan in the CCHA title game (just the second CCHA championship loss in Jackson's six years - 24-2) and saw the season come to an end with a loss in the East Regionals to Vermont.
During his six years guiding the Lakers, Jackson produced 12 All-Americans (five first team and seven second team), one Academic All-American, and in 1991, he was recognized as the CCHA coach of the year. He is just one of 12 coaches to win multiple NCAA championships. From 1993-96, he also served as the director of athletics at Lake Superior State.
Several of Jackson's players advanced to play in the NHL. The list includes Doug Weight, Brian Rolston, Keith Aldridge, Blaine Lacher, John Grahame, Bates Battaglia and Jim Dowd.
Jackson was inducted into the Lake Superior State University athletics hall of fame on July 23, 2009.
WITH USA HOCKEY
On June 7, 1996, Jackson was named the national coach and senior director of the newly founded U.S. National Team Development program based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
In his first season putting the program in place, he served as the head coach for the United States Junior National Team that captured the silver medal at the 1997 World Junior Championships, at the time the best-ever finish for the U.S. team.
The following year Jackson served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. In his four years directing the national program, eight former Notre Dame players came from the developmental program.
IN THE OHL
In 2000, Jackson left the U.S. program and took over as coach of the Ontario Hockey League's (OHL) Guelph Storm where he turned a losing franchise around, finishing in second place in his first season with a 34-23-9-2 record. In the 2001-02 season the Storm went 37-23-7-1 and hosted the Memorial Cup, advancing to the tiebreaker game where they lost to Victoriaville. In two-and-a-half seasons in Guelph, Jackson had an 87-67-24-4 record.
IN THE NHL
From Guelph, Jackson moved on to the NHL's New York Islanders, where he served as an assistant coach on Steve Stirling's staff from 2003-05. In 2003-04, the Islanders finished third in the NHL's Atlantic Division with a 38-29-11-4 record, good for 91 points.
A 1978 graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in communications, Jackson followed with an education degree from Michigan State in 1979.
In May 2003, Inside College Hockey, ranked Jackson 12th on its list of the 16 greatest college coaches of all-time with only five of the 16 still active in coaching.
Jackson is a member of the USA Hockey Coaches Achievement Program, the American Hockey Coaches Association and the National Hockey League Coaches Association.