Aug. 29, 2008
Notre Dame, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame will play host to the first ever Shillelagh Tournament at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill. on Jan. 2 and 3, 2009. The tournament, originally scheduled as the Lightning College Hockey Classic in Tampa, Fla., will feature the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, the Union College Dutchmen and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks.
The tournament that was hosted by the National Hockey League's Tampa Bay Lightning the past two years moves from the Florida city due to the change in ownership of the Lightning who decided not to sponsor the tournament. Notre Dame will now serve as the hosts for the new tournament at the Sears Centre.
"We had commitments from three teams that expected to play in this tournament and it was important for us to fulfill that obligation," said Irish hockey coach Jeff Jackson.
"We were very fortunate that the people from the Sears Centre opened their doors for us to maintain this tournament. The Chicago area is a second home to Notre Dame and hopefully this can help develop into a relationship that will allow us to play games in Chicago on an annual basis."
Jackson added, "I am extremely disappointed in the Tampa Bay Lighting's decision to not continue the tournament. We had a verbal agreement to continue this for two more years and as hosts of the Frozen Four in 2012, I'm not sure it's the best message to send to the college hockey community by cancelling the tournament at such a late date.
In this year's Shillelagh Tournament, on Friday, Jan. 2, Minnesota-Duluth will face UMass-Lowell in one game and Notre Dame will battle Union in the second. The third-place and championship games will be played on Saturday, Jan. 3.
The Sears Centre Arena is located in the Prairie Stone Business Park in Hoffman Estates, Ill., located 30 miles northwest of Chicago, just off of Interstate 90 and west of Illinois Route 59 and seats 9,700 for hockey. The building is the home of the Continental Indoor Football League's Chicago Slaughter, the National Lacrosse League's Chicago Shamrox and the Chicago Storm of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League. The venue opened on Oct. 26, 2006 and also served as the home of the Chicago Hounds of the United Hockey League during the 2006-07 season.
Game times and ticket information for the first Shillelagh Tournament will follow as they are established.
A Shillelagh (pronounced Sha-lay-lee) is a thick stick of blackthorn or oak, used in Ireland, typically as a weapon. The word originates from the town of Shillelagh in County Wicklow, Ireland.
The Notre Dame football team currently passes a shillelagh to the winner of its games between Purdue and USC. The Irish and the Boilermakers have been exchanging the shillelagh since 1957 while the trophy for the series with the Trojans has emerald-studded Shamrocks representing Notre Dame wins and ruby-adorned Trojan heads for USC victories.