May 6, 2005
Jeff Jackson, who led Lake Superior State to NCAA hockey championships in 1992 and 1994 (and three consecutive trips to the title game), has been named the fourth head coach in the modern era of the Notre Dame hockey program. He is the first Notre Dame head coach in any sport to have won an NCAA Division I championship with another program before being hired as an Irish head coach.
In making the announcement, Notre Dame director of athletics Kevin White said, "Jeff Jackson has a first-hand appreciation of exactly what it takes to be successful at the very highest level of the collegiate hockey world. His accomplishments at Lake Superior State in winning multiple NCAA titles -- combined with his work and connections from the United States national developmental program and from the professional level - provide him a solid foundation from which to lead the Notre Dame hockey program.
"We're excited he's coming to Notre Dame, and I think it's fair to say he's excited about the opportunities ahead of him with our program."
The highly-regarded Jackson brings more than 20 years of coaching experience to the Irish as an assistant and a head coach at the NCAA Division I level, on the international level with the U.S. national program, in major junior hockey and at the National Hockey League level.
A 1978 graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in communications, Jackson followed with a degree in education in 1979 from Michigan State. He got his start in college hockey in 1986 as an assistant coach at Lake Superior State where he served four years under head coach Frank Anzalone, helping guide the Lakers to one Central Collegiate Hockey Association championship and the 1988 NCAA title. When Anzalone moved to the professional ranks following the 1989-90 season, Jackson took over as the head coach of the Lakers and in a six-year span (1990-91 to 1995-96), guided them to six consecutive NCAA appearances, including three straight trips to the title game from 1992 through 1994.
In 1992 the Lakers defeated Wisconsin in the NCAA championship game, in 1993 they lost to the University of Maine -- and in 1994 Lake Superior took the title versus Boston University. Jackson's six-year record at Lake Superior State was 182-52-25 for a .751 winning percentage, the best among active Division I coaches with at least 200 games. In CCHA play, the Lakers were 120-38-23, winning two regular-season championships (1991 and 1996) and four tournament championships (1991, 1992, 1993 and 1995).
During his six years guiding the Lakers, Jackson produced 12 All-Americans (five first-team picks and seven second-team selections) and one Academic All-American. 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: Doug Weight (New York Rangers/Edmonton/St. Louis), Brian Rolston (New Jersey/Colorado/Boston), Keith Aldridge (New York Islanders), Blaine Lacher (Boston Bruins), John Grahame (Boston Bruins/Tampa Bay Lightning), Bates Battaglia (Carolina/Colorado/Washington) and Jim Dowd (New Jersey/Vancouver/New York Islanders/Minnesota Wild).
Following the 1995-96 season, Jackson moved on to take over as national coach and senior director of the newly-founded United States National Team Development program based in Ann Arbor, Mich. In his first season while putting the program in place, he served as the head coach for the U.S. Junior National Team that captured the silver medal at the 1997 World Junior Championships, at the time representing the best finish ever for the U.S. team. Former Irish captain and current Atlanta Thrasher Ben Simon was a member of that squad. The following year, he was an assistant coach for Team USA at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan. In his four years directing the national program, eight former Notre Dame players came from the developmental program: Brett Henning, Michael Chin, Connor Dunlop, Paul Harris, John Wroblewski, Brett Lebda, Neil Komadoski and Rob Globke.
In 2000, Jackson 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.
He then moved on to the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League where he has served as an assistant on Steve Stirling's staff the past two seasons. In 2003-04, the Islanders finished third in the NHL's Atlantic Division with a 38-29-11-4 record, good for 91 points. The Islanders lost in the first round of the playoffs to eventual Stanley Cup-winner Tampa, four games to one.
In May of 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.
Born June 22, 1955, Jackson is a member of the USA Hockey Coaches Achievement Program, the American Hockey Coaches Association and the National Hockey League Coaches Association.