May 20, 1998
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame hockey team has signed two players with international playing experience--center Brett Henning (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) and goaltender Jeremiah Kimento (Palos Hills, Ill.)--to national letters of intent during the spring signing period, head coach Dave Poulin announced today. Henning and Kimento join Notre Dame's fall signees--defenseman Sam Cornelius (Edina, Minn.) and center David Inman (Toronto, Ont.)--to form another talented incoming class for the Irish hockey program.
"We graduate just three players from last year's team and have done an excellent job addressing specific needs with our four signees," said Notre Dame head coach Dave Poulin, who will be embarking on his fourth season with the Irish while welcoming back 24 of 27 players from the 1997-98 team that finished 18-19-4.
"Brett Henning will combine with David Inman to give us very promising talent at the center position. Our graduated centers--Steve Noble and Lyle Andrusiak--actually had previously played on the wing but by bringing in Brett and David, we are adding two proven centers who should enjoy playing with our talented and diverse group of wingers.
"Jeremiah Kimento is an excellent goaltending prospect who will combine with senior Forrest Karr and sophomore Kyle Kolquist to give us a healthy competition for playing time in the nets, as we look to replace four-year starter Matt Eisler."
Henning, the son of former National Hockey League player and coach Lorne Henning, has spent the past year as a member of the inaugural United States national under-18 team, which trained at The Ice Cube hockey facility in Ann Arbor, Mich. while breaking into two squads for a 150-game schedule from Sept. 4 - April 24. Henning ranked seventh among the program's 28 forwards with 44 overall points (13 goals, 31 assists) in 71 games. As a member of the "Red Team", he ranked third with 38 points (13 G-25 A) in 56 games before earning a spot as one of 16 forwards on the Team USA playoff roster.
Prior to joining the Team USA program, Henning spent two seasons playing with the Cambridge (Ont.) Winterhawks of the Midwestern Junior League. He is set to graduate from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor on June 4.
Henning is one of 18 players in the USA developmental program who have signed letters of intent with Division I schools, with seven of his USA teammates set to join schools in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (four are going to Michigan State and one each to Lake Superior, Miami and Ohio State). His regular linemates with Team USA included left wing Adam Hall (a MSU signee) and right wing Doug Meyer (who is headed to Minnesota).
Henning comes from a strong hockey background, as his father Lorne enjoyed a nine-year playing career with the New York Islanders (1972-83 - 1980-81) before spending 14 seasons as an assistant coach and head coach in the NHL. An original member of the Islanders, Henning compiled 73 goals and 111 assists as a forward over his 543-game career and played a major role in the team's four-year Stanley Cup dynasty (1980-83). He served as an assistant coach with the Islanders from 1980-84 and '87-'94 while also serving as head coach for the Minnesota North Stars ('85-'87) and the Islanders ('94-'95). He spent the past three seasons as a Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach.
"Brett is a very intelligent player who sees the ice well, understands the game and has pretty good all-around skills," said Poulin. "He contributes on both ends of the ice and has made great strides during his year with the national program. Brett also has the benefit of growing up in a strong hockey environment and that has enhanced his hockey sense and feel for the game."
Kimento recently wrapped up a successful season with the Danville (Ill.) Wings of the National American Hockey League (NAHL) while also being selected as one of two goaltenders for the U.S. team in the world domestic junior tournament, held in Berne, Switzerland during late December of 1997. Kimento split goaltending duties with University of Michigan signee Josh Blackburn while helping the U.S. go 5-0 en route to a gold-medal finish. He posted a .900 save percentage and a 3.00 goals-against average while helping Danville finish fourth in the NAHL. Kimento earned a spot on the NAHL all-star team, leading them to wins over all-star teams from the East Coast Junior Hockey League (4-1) and US Hockey League (4-0) en route to the title of the annual King of the Hill tournament in Waterloo, Iowa (he was not in net for the 5-4 win over the Frontier League all-stars).
A 1997 graduate of Chicago's Marist High School, Kimento previously played for two seasons with Team Illinois, which also produced Irish sophomore-to-be forward Matt Van Arkel. He played 75 percent of the games for Team Illinois during its 65-5-7 season in 1996-97 while earning tournament MVP honors at the AAA national tournament in Boston, Mass., after leading Team Illinois to the team title.
"Our goaltending situation has been dominated by Matt Eisler for the past four seasons but this year will be very exciting, as Jeremiah will come in and give us three strong players to compete for time in the goal," said Poulin. "Jeremiah moves extremely well and has great quickness. He has improved at every level where he has played and we expect him to make great strides at Notre Dame as well.
Cornelius was one of 10 finalists for Minnesota's Mr. Hockey award while earning all-state honors from the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He totaled five goals and 29 assists in 24 games during the 1997-98 season and 11 goals and 61 assists in his four-year career. Cornelius recently was a part of the nation's longest-ever high school game, a 3-2 victory over Eden Prarie in the regional final (99:39). He helped Edina finish sixth in the state tournament, with a final record of 22-6.
Inman led the Wexford (Ont.) Raiders to the Metro League title and a runner-up finish to the Milton Merchants in the Provincial League finals. A Metro League all-star, he led the Raiders in overall goals (51), playoff goals (15, in 16 games) and playoff assists (25) while totaling 120 points (51G-69A) in 53 overall games.
HENNING: "Coach Poulin was a big part of my decision--he's been in the NHL and knows what it takes to succeed in the highest level of hockey. I like the way the team is headed, I enjoyed the campus and the team is a bunch of great guys. ... I've grown up around hockey. It's been tough having to move around and change schools but my dad has taught me things that other people couldn't. I've had the chance to skate with NHL players on my dad's teams and have picked up on a lot of little things that make a big difference. ... I've improved a lot over the past year training with the USA program, particularly in strength and skating. That's one of the benefits of playing every day for nine months straight."
KIMENTO: "I can remember playing at Notre Dame in a Thanksgiving tournament when I was 10 or 11 years old. I remember the Golden Dome and walking around campus--I was just in awe. Notre Dame was the best choice for me for many reasons. When I met coach Poulin, he impressed me more than any of the coaches from other schools. All the players had great things to say about the program and I just knew I wanted to be a part of it. My whole family is Irish and we are your typical Irish family from the south-side of Chicago, so this is a thrill for my whole family. I'm the first member of my family to go to Notre Dame, so everyone is very excited."
NOTRE DAME HOCKEY NOTES:
- The Irish are set to return 87 percent of their goals (116/127), 85 percent of their assists (169/198) and 85 percent of their points (276/325) from the 1997-98 team. The squad's 17.6 percent power-play unit is set to return 92 percent of its power-play goals (36/39) while the 84.3 percent penalty-killing unit will benefit from the return of all eight defenseman (returnees also accounted for all nine shorthanded goals last season).
- Notre Dame's 17 returning forwards include: jr. C Ben Simon (9G-28A, 3 PPG, 3 SHG), sr. LW Aniket Dhadphale (25-10, 12 PPG), sr. RW Brian Urick (16-18, 2 PPG), so. LW Dan Carlson (11-17, 3 PPG, 3 SHG), jr. RW John Dwyer (7-4, 1 PPG), so. RW Matt Van Arkel (5-6, 2 PPG), jr. RW Joe Dusbabek (1-8, 21 gms), so. LW Chad Chipchase (5-3), so. LW Jay Kopischke (2-4), so. RW Ryan Dolder (3-0), jr. F Troy Bagne (1-2), sr. C Craig Hagkull (0-2), sr. C Neal Johnson (0-0) and jr. LW Andy Jurkowski (0-0).
- Noble ranked seventh on the 1997-98 Irish squad with 25 points (8-17, 2 PPG) while Andrusiak was eighth on the team in scoring (8-16, 1 PPG).
- The returning Irish defensemen include sr. Benoit Cotnoir (10-19, 4 PPG, 3 SHG), sr. Scott Giuliani (0-0), jr. Nathan Borega (2-2, 1 PPG), jr. Tyson Fraser (1-13, 1 PPG), jr. Sean Molina (0-6), jr. Sean Seyferth (1-0), so. Ryan Clark (0-6) and so. Mark Eaton (12-17, 7 PPG).
- Karr was 6-3-1 with a 2.85 GAA and .875 save percentage last season while Kolquist logged nine-plus minutes in one appearance (2 saves, 0 goals).
- Eisler was 12-16-3 last season while logging 75 percent of the team's minutes in the nets. His 2.70 season goals-against average ranks second-best in Notre Dame history and best since 1969 while Eisler's .905 save percentage last season ranks second in Irish history behind Mark Kronholm's .907 in 1970-71. Eisler leaves Notre Dame ranked first in career GAA (3.66), second in career saves (2,892) and minutes (6,276:30), third in career save percentage (.883) and fourth in career wins (35).