Sept. 30, 2008
Grand Rapids, Mich. - The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) opened the 2008-09 college hockey season with its annual Media Day at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Tuesday afternoon.
The conference announced its annual coaches and media preseason polls along with a preseason all-CCHA team. In the polls, ranking the teams, Notre Dame was selected to finish first in voting done by the coaches and second in voting done by members of the media that covers the conference on a regular basis. In the coaches' poll, the Irish received eight first-place votes and 128 total points. They were followed by Michigan with three first-place votes and 122 points while Miami was third with one first-place vote and 108 points.
In the media voting, a total of 83 votes were cast with Michigan getting 43 first-place votes and 945 points to finish first. The Irish garnered 35 first-place picks and a total of 915 points. Michigan State (776) and Miami (746) were third and fourth and each received two first-place votes. Northern Michigan, picked fifth by the media, rounded out the first-place votes with one and had 700 total points.
This marks the first time in Notre Dame history, as a member of the CCHA, that the Irish were selected first in the preseason.
The actual results of both polls:
CCHA Coaches Poll (1st-place) Points Media Poll (1st-place) Points 1. NOTRE DAME (8) 128 1. Michigan (43) 945 2. Michigan (3) 122 2. NOTRE DAME (35) 915 3. Miami (1) 108 3. Michigan State (2) 776 4. Northern Michigan 102 4. Miami (2) 746 5. Michigan State 96 5. Northern Michigan (1) 700 6. Ferris State 84 6. Ferris State 529 7. Ohio State 67 7. Bowling Green 444 8. Nebraska-Omaha 59 8. Nebraska-Omaha 415 9. Bowling Green 56 9. Ohio State 339 10. Lake Superior State 46 10. Lake Superior State 322 11. Alaska 28 11. Alaska 198 Western Michigan 28 12. Western Michigan 145
The CCHA coaches also selected preseason all-Conference teams for the `07-'08 campaign and five Notre Dame players received recognition. Leading the way for the Irish was senior right wing Erik Condra (Livonia, Mich.) who received nine first-place votes and tied first team goaltender Jeff Lerg of Michigan State for the most first-place votes and most total points with 51. Condra has led Notre Dame in scoring in each of his first three seasons and is coming off a year that saw him score 15 goals with 23 assists for 38 points. He was named the team's captain earlier this week. A year ago, Condra was selected as a second team CCHA preseason selection.
Joining Condra on the first team is junior defenseman Kyle Lawson (New Hudson, Mich.) who received five first-place votes and 38 points overall. Last season, Lawson was an honorable mention all-CCHA choice following his sophomore year as he led all Notre Dame defensemen in scoring with five goals and 21 assists for 26 points and tied for second with a +13. This marks the second consecutive year that Lawson has been named to the preseason all-CCHA first team.
On the second team, the Irish had two selections. At forward, junior Ryan Thang (Edina, Minn.) made his second consecutive appearance on the second team as he recorded two first-place votes and 25 points overall to tie for the final forward spot with Northern Michigan's Mark Olver. Thang led the Irish with 18 goals and was second with 32 points. He tied for the team lead with seven power-play goals, chipped in a pair of short-handed markers and had five game winners.
Joining the second team on defense was sophomore Ian Cole (Ann Arbor, Mich.) who received two first-place votes and finished with a total of 24 points. An honorable mention CCHA all-rookie team honoree, Cole led Notre Dame defensemen with eight goals and added 12 assists for 20 points. He capped his year with seven points (4g, 3a) in nine postseason games as Notre Dame advanced to the NCAA championship game for the first time in the program's history.
The fifth Irish preseason honoree was goaltender Jordan Pearce (Anchorage, Alaska) who received one first-place vote and 20 points to get honorable mention to the preseason team. Pearce finished third in voting behind Lerg and Michigan's Billy Sauer in the preseason voting. As a junior, Pearce set Notre Dame records for games (43), games started (42) and minutes played (2,557:46) on the way to a 23-15-4 overall record, a 2.04 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage with two shutouts. He captured the CCHA's top goaltender award with a 1.80 goals-against average in CCHA games during the 2007-08 season. Notre Dame led the way with four players selected, followed by Michigan and Michigan State with three each. Miami had two players while Northern Michigan had one.
2008-09 CCHA Preseason First Team 2008-09 CCHA Preseason Second Team Player, Yr., School First Tot. Pos. Player, Yr., School First Tot. Erik Condra, Sr., ND 9 51 F Carter Camper, So., MIA 3 34 Aaron Palushaj, So., UM 8 49 F Tim Crowder, Sr., MSU 5 27 Justin Mercier, Sr., MIA 6 40 F Mark Olver, So., NMU 2 25 F Ryan Thang, Jr., ND 2 25 Mark Mitera, Sr., UM 7 45 D Jeff Petry, So., MSU 3 31 Kyle Lawson, Jr., ND 5 38 D Ian Cole, So., ND 2 24 Jeff Lerg, Sr., MSU 9 51 G Billy Sauer, Sr., UM 2 26
Honorable mention (next six point totals, regardless of position with first team votes in parentheses): Eric Gustafsson, So., Northern Michigan, D, (1), 22; Eddie Del Grosso, Jr., Nebraska-Omaha, D, (3), 20; Jordan Pearce, Sr., NOTRE DAME, G, (1), 20; Jacob Cepis, So., Bowling Green, F, 18; Nick Sirota, Sr., Northern Michigan, F, (1), 17; Zach Redmond, So., Ferris State, D, 12.