Oct. 5, 2012
Notre Dame, Ind. -
The 2012-13 version of the Notre Dame hockey team returns to the ice on Saturday, Oct. 6 as they begin regular practice on the NCAA's common start date. The players will be on the ice twice on Saturday with their coaches as they begin preparations for the start of the new season. The team will practice at 9:00 a.m. followed by a second practice at 5:00 p.m. Both practices are open to the public at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
The Irish then play a preseason game on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 5:05 p.m. when the U.S. National Under-18 team visits. Team USA is off to a 3-1-0 start this year with games to date against teams from the United States Hockey League (USHL). They will play at Wisconsin on Saturday night before facing Notre Dame on Sunday.
The Irish currently have seven players - senior Sam Calabrese, juniors Stephen Johns and Bryan Rust, sophomores Robbie Russo and Austin Wutrich and freshmen Thomas DiPauli and Andy Ryan - that have played for the U.S. National Team Development Program. In all, 31 former U.S. National program alums have played at Notre Dame. Head coach Jeff Jackson served as the first coach and senior director of the program from 1996 to 2000.
Here's a look at the 2012-13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hockey Team.
With the start of every new college hockey season, teams are filled with excitement and anticipation of what the new year will bring. Will it be a conference championship, a run to the NCAA Tournament or even a trip to the Frozen Four?
The Notre Dame hockey team is no different as it enters the 2012-13 campaign, the first full season for the Irish in the new Compton Family Ice Arena.
For the first time in three years, head coach Jeff Jackson and his staff can say that they have a veteran squad as the roster features 16 upperclassmen, made up of four seniors and a 12-man junior class.
The Irish will look to put the rollercoaster season of 2011-12 in the rearview mirror as they have their sights set on bigger and better things.
Notre Dame's final record of 19-18-3 is the final compilation of a season that saw the Irish run off an 11-game unbeaten streak (8-0-3), included losing streaks of four games and five games at different times during the season and a three-game, mid-season winning streak versus three teams ranked in the top 10 (Ferris State, Boston University and at Minnesota).
Coming off a 2010-11 season that saw the Irish advance to the Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minn., much more was expected of the team last season, a fact that left people disappointed in the final outcome that included an eighth-place CCHA finish (12-13-3-0) and a loss in the second-round of the playoffs at Michigan.
With a veteran roster returning, Notre Dame should have plenty of expectations for the 2012-13 season as they look to return to the level they achieved just two short seasons ago.
Jackson and his staff will have to replace six players from last seasons' roster - five seniors and one junior - Riley Sheahan - who signed with the Detroit Red Wings.
Lost to graduation were co-captains, defenseman Sean Lorenz and forward Billy Maday along with forwards Nick Condon, Patrick Gaul and Richard Ryan.
Lorenz was a four-year letter winner on the Notre Dame blue line and a steadying influence over his last two seasons. The CCHA defensive defenseman of the year as a junior, Lorenz played in 157 career games (to finish ninth on the all-time games played list) and had three goals and 10 assists for 13 points as a senior. A steady, stay-at-home defender, Lorenz led a young, talented group of defensemen the past two seasons.
Maday and Sheahan both played center and were talented players who had strong games at both ends of the ice.
Maday teamed with Lorenz and sophomore Anders Lee to give the team strong leadership on and off the ice.
On the ice, Maday was a regular contributor in all four of his seasons at Notre Dame. He finished his career, playing in 153 games, notching 45 goals with 60 assists for 105 points and became the 46th player in Irish history to score 100 points in his career.
Maday was third in scoring last season with 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points and almost single-handedly led the team past Ohio State in the first round of the CCHA playoffs, having a hand in four of the team's six goals in the two-game sweep.
Sheahan, a first-round pick of Detroit's in 2010, had his best year at Notre Dame. A talented, two-way center, he was fourth in scoring with nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points in his junior campaign.
Gaul closed out his four years at Notre Dame with a career year, getting two goals and five assists for seven points in 32 games, seeing action at center and left wing during the season.
Condon and Ryan saw limited action during the season playing in three and nine games respectively.
"I thought that last year our problems were more of inconsistency," says Jackson.
"At times our goaltending wasn't consistent and at others our goal-scoring wasn't consistent. The same can be said about our special teams. So, to me, it's more about the mindset, learning to be mentally tougher in certain situations, like with a lead in the third period. In the past we had games where having a lead in the third period was like a guaranteed win; that didn't happen last year."
Jackson and his coaching staff of Paul Pooley, Andy Slaggert and Jason Nightingale have added five newcomers to the roster who bring skill and talent to the lineup. They will be counted on to fill the gaps lost due to graduation and the early departure of Sheahan.
One area that the Irish are set is the goaltending position where Jackson has three quality goaltenders who mirrored the team's rollercoaster season as much as anyone.
The goaltending lineup is a veteran one, led by senior Mike Johnson (Verona, Wis.) and a pair of juniors with Steven Summerhays (Anchorage, Alaska) and Joe Rogers (Marysville, Mich.).
In each of his first three seasons, Johnson has carried the load in goal and for his career has played in 91 games, making 85 starts. He owns a career record of 39-33-12 with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage. He already ranks third all-time in goals-against average (2.63), is fourth in save percentage (.901), fifth in winning percentage (.536), is tied for seventh in wins (39) and is 10th in games played (91) at Notre Dame.
As much as any player on the team, Johnson, the goaltending hero of the 2012 NCAA Regionals, had a crazy season that saw him finish with a 9-10-3 record, a 2.69 goals-against average and a .883 save percentage, the lowest of his career. Included in his win-loss totals was a personal -best 10-game unbeaten streak (7-0-3) from Oct. 14 to Nov. 25 that was followed by a five-game losing streak.
Summerhays saw his playing time increase as a sophomore and took advantage of it, taking over as the top goaltender for the postseason. He was 10-8-0 on the year with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage with a pair of shutouts.
The athletic, butterfly-style goaltender also had an up-and-down year. He roared out to a 6-1-0 mark through early January, including wins over Ferris State, Boston University and Minnesota before hitting his rough spot with a 1-5-0 mark in January and early February. He found his game late in the season, recording shutouts versus Michigan State and Ohio State, compiling a shutout streak of 124:35. He won a pair of playoff games against the Buckeyes and then was in goal for both losses in the second round versus Michigan when the Irish lost 2-1 in double overtime and 3-1 in game two.
"Steven won some big games for us in the last six weeks of the season and had a .930 save percentage, so he goes in as the number one. I still have a lot of faith in Mike Johnson, but Steven has earned the opportunity," says Jackson.
"He won't play all the games, but he will get the bulk of the games early on. He needs to show that he can play with the consistency that he did at the end of last year."
Rogers saw action in one game, a 9-2 home loss, to Northeastern, a game that had all three goaltenders see action. He played the final 15:24, giving up two goals on five shots. That left him with a 7.79 goals-against average and a .600 save percentage.
With the graduation of Lorenz, Sam Calabrese (Park Ridge, Ill.) will take over as the senior leader of the Irish defense, a group that includes four juniors, two sophomores and one freshman.
Calabrese, who was an honorable mention all-CCHA selection following his sophomore year, has all the tools to be one of the conference's top defensemen. A strong skater with excellent puck-handling skills, he led all Notre Dame defenders in scoring last season with three goals and 13 assists for 16 points. He will now take on a leadership role for the Irish as he leads by example on the ice. Expect to see Calabrese play in all situations - even strength, on the power play and the penalty-killing unit - this season.
The four juniors will all be in the running for major minutes on the blue line this season.
Three of them - Stephen Johns (Wampum, Pa.), Kevin Lind (Homer Glen, Ill.) and Shayne Taker (Surrey, B.C. - saw plenty of action as sophomores while Jared Beers (Mishawaka, Ind.) is set to make his push for more playing time this season.
Leading the group is Johns, who has made great strides in his first two seasons. At 6-4, 233-pounds, the big, physical defenseman has a certain presence when he's on the ice. Known for his physical style, Johns makes the Irish a different team defensively when he's on the ice. Opposing forwards have to account for him, as he does not shy away from the big, open-ice hits or the tough, gritty play in the corners and in front of the goal. While the physical game has never wavered for the Chicago Blackhawks draftee, his offensive skills have continued to improve. Strong on his skates, he handles the puck well and owns a big, booming shot from the point that he has worked on to get it off faster and with more accuracy. In 39 games last season, Johns had four goals with six assists for 10 points. His 71 penalty minutes were second on the team to Nick Larson's 73. He too, will see duty in all situations for the Irish.
Lind, along with Johns and Taker, brings size to the Irish defense. He checks in this season at 6-3, 223-pounds and continues to see his game grow. As a sophomore, Lind played in 39 games, scoring one goal with a pair of assists for three points. During the second half of the `11-'12 season, you could see his game take a giant leap as he became a more consistent player who played with confidence. Strong on his skates, he moves the puck quickly and is a true stay-at-home defenseman. He will look to continue to mature on the ice this season and move into a top-four defensive role.
Taker (pronounced Tacker) saw his game grow in `11-'12 as he earned a larger role in the defensive scheme. At 6-4, 201-pounds, the junior continues to add weight to his frame. An offensive-minded defender with good speed and quickness, Taker saw action on the power play and began to develop an offensive flare. He played in all 40 games with two goals and five assists for seven points. A sound defender, Taker will look to become more physical in his own zone to keep opposing forwards honest.
Beers, the local product from nearby Mishawaka, Ind., saw his playing time limited to just five games as a sophomore and will look to bounce back and get in the lineup this year. For Beers, who showed that he could play at the Division I level as a freshman, it was clearly a numbers game as the top six missed just three games all season. As a freshman, Beers played in 25 games with a goal and six assists while being +4 in the plus-minus department. A smart player, Beers has an opportunity to move back into the regular lineup this year.
Two sophomores - Eric Johnson (Verona, Wis.) and Robbie Russo (Westmont, Ill.) - are part of the eight-man defensive corps.
Johnson, the brother of Irish goaltender Mike Johnson, did not see any action as a freshman and will be looking to get his chance this season.
A strong defensive-defenseman, Johnson has worked hard in the offseason and will look to break into the regular rotation this season. At 6-1, 191-pounds, Johnson is most effective when he plays a physical style. He has the tools to become a solid collegiate defenseman but needs to become more confident and consistent in his all-around game.
Russo made the jump from the U.S. Under-18 program to a regular spot in the Notre Dame lineup and had a strong rookie season. He was named to the CCHA all-rookie team and was the Irish rookie of the year. An offensive-minded defender, Russo played in all 40 games, scoring four goals with 11 assists for 15 points on the year. All four of his goals came on the power play, as he quickly became the quarterback of the Notre Dame power play.
A 2011 draft choice of the New York Islanders, Russo handles the puck well and moves it quickly in his own zone and in transition. He must become more consistent in the defensive zone to become a dominant collegiate defenseman. He has the tools and ability and now its up to him to make it happen.
Rounding out the eight-man defensive unit is freshman Andy Ryan (Brighton, Mich.), who is the brother of 2011 graduate, Ben Ryan. A product of both the U.S. National Team Developmental Program and the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL, Ryan had a strong season last year in the USHL, playing for both Green Bay and Sioux City.
He started the year with the Gamblers where he had three assists before being traded to Sioux City where he played in 43 games with four goals and 11 assists for 15 points and was +13. A skilled, solid defenseman, Ryan is strong in his own zone and has the ability to play at the Division I level. He will be in the running for playing time this year.
"We will be counting on Sam (Calabrese) to be a great leader back on defense. He needs to play with confidence and be sound defensively," Jackson says.
"He's got a strong group of juniors to rely on. Stephen Johns took a big step last season and will be counted on to take a leadership role. Kevin (Lind) took a big step late last season and Shayne (Taker) played with a lot of consistency all season. Jared Beers will have a better opportunity to show what he can do and will compete with Eric Johnson and Andy Ryan for playing time. Robbie Russo had a strong season as a freshman and will look to become more consistent defensively. We have good depth back there."
On the offensive side of the puck, the Irish return the nucleus of a team that at times struggled in the goal-scoring department, as they lit the lamp just 101 times for a 2.53 per game average compared to 151 the previous year (3.43 average).
Notre Dame returns seven of its top-10 scoring forwards from last season, led by one of the nation's top scoring duos of T.J. Tynan (Orland Park, Ill.) and Anders Lee (Edina, Minn.). Those two alone accounted for 30 goals and 45 assists for 75 points. The remaining five in that group had 27 goals and 31 assists for 58 points.
The senior class includes just two forwards who will be looking to close out their careers in a big way this season.
Nick Larson (Apple Valley, Minn.) and Kevin Nugent (New Canaan, Conn.) were regulars in the lineup in 2011-12 and both should see key roles this year.
Larson is a 6-2, 198-pound left wing that has played in 113 games in his career. As a junior, he had five goals and three assists for eight points. Larson plays a physical style that makes him a force in front of the net and in the corners and has worked hard in the offseason in preparation for this season. He can be a presence in front of the net on the Notre Dame power play and has the ability to win battles for loose pucks. One of the team leaders in the locker room, look for big things from Larson this season. After wearing No. 26 for his first three seasons, he will wear No. 17 this season, a number that he has worn in the past.
Nugent broke into the Irish lineup last season, earning minutes with his work ethic and ability to play Notre Dame's system. At 6-3, 200-pounds, Nugent brought a competitive, feisty style to the ice and made his mark in a defensive role. A total team player, Nugent played in 26 games and had three assists while seeing time as a member of the Notre Dame penalty-killing unit. He is still looking for his first collegiate goal and will look to add to the offensive attack on a deep, talented group of players.
Six forwards make up the Notre Dame junior class and they will be counted on to play a key role in the team's offensive attack this season. While Tynan and Lee are the top scorers, the other four - Jeff Costello (Milwaukee, Wis.), David Gerths (Ankeny, Ia.), Bryan Rust (Novi, Mich.) and Mike Voran (Livonia, Mich.) - are the secondary scorers who saw their numbers slip a year ago.
For the second-consecutive season, Tynan led Notre Dame in scoring as he had 13 goals and 28 assists for 41 points in 39 games. The speedy center is the ultimate competitor who can score, as well as, set up his teammates. As a sophomore, he was the CCHA's co-scoring leader with nine goals and 20 assists in 28 games to become the first Notre Dame player to win or share a CCHA scoring title in the 22 years the Irish have been in the conference. A first-team all-CCHA selection, Tynan was Notre Dame's team MVP and top forward.
Among his 13 goals were five power-play goals, two short-handed goals and a game winner. At 5-8, 165, Tynan has incredible hockey instincts and the ability to play at both ends of the ice. He brings speed and tenacity to the ice that opens things up for his linemates. A magician with the puck, he has the knack for finding the open man while also having the ability to score from anywhere on the ice. Tynan's biggest obstacle in his junior season is the fact that he is a marked man as the opposition will do just about anything to slow down the top returning Irish point producer.
While they are keeping an eye on Tynan, opponents can't forget Lee who is one of the nation's top snipers, racking up 41 goals in his first two seasons. The junior will serve as the lone team captain this season and is the consummate team leader both on and off the ice for the Irish.
An honorable mention all-CCHA selection in `11-'12, Lee is the prototypical power forward who was second to Tynan with 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points. He tied for the team lead with seven power-play goals and chipped in one game winner. He will serve as the team captain for the 2012-13 season.
"Anytime your captain is one of your best players, it certainly helps to have a guy who's your leader doing the job off the ice, in the classroom and pretty much in every aspect," Jackson says.
"I'm expecting Anders to have a great year for us."
The 6-3, 220-pounder who has played his first two seasons at left wing will move to center as a junior to give the Irish size, strength and leadership through the middle. Lee has played in the middle before during his high school and junior career.
"It's going to give him an opportunity to skate the full distance of the ice and make plays offensively and defensively," Jackson says.
"We made the change because we didn't want to have our second- and third-line centers being freshmen. With Anders and T.J. both being juniors, it gives us a lot of experience up the middle."
Like Tynan, Lee will have a bull's eye on his back, as opponents will want to prevent him from doing his damage. The veteran forward would love to get off to a fast start like he did a year ago, when he had 10 goals and three assists for 13 points in his first seven games.
A key to the Notre Dame success this season will be the team's secondary scoring and the four remaining juniors hope to do their share of damage on the score sheet.
"We will definitely be looking to improve our depth offensively," says Jackson.
"We certainly have two of the best offensive players in the country, but I really think we have more than just Anders (Lee) and T.J. (Tynan). We need to get complete seasons out of guys like Jeff Costello, Mike Voran, Bryan Rust. They all had success as freshmen and came back with increased expectations last season. They put too much pressure on themselves to perform."
Playing on the left side is Costello who has shown a penchant for scoring key goals in his first two seasons. He had 12 as a freshman but scored just five last season as his year was marred by injuries early and again late in the season. Despite getting just five goals last year, three of them were game winners and among his 17 career goals are six game-clinching markers. A tough, hard-nosed forward, the 6-0, 212-pound portsider plays the game with an edge that his team responds to. He gets many of his scoring chances from in front of the net and he will be a contributor on the power play.
Gerths has seen action both at center and right wing during his first two seasons and figures to anchor the team's fourth line. Like Costello, he plays the game with and edge and doesn't shy away from the physical play. After getting eight goals as a freshman, the 6-0, 217-pound right-shot forward had just four assists last season. One of the team's "energy" players, Gerths has good hands and can make plays around the net. Solid on face offs, he will be counted on this year.
Rust saw his numbers drop too as he had five goals and six assists for 11 points after picking up 19 points (6g, 13a) the previous year. A proven goal scorer throughout his career, the 5-11, 202-pound right wing brings speed to the roster and has played in all situations at Notre Dame. As a sophomore, he moved into a key role as one of the teams' top penalty killers and could be ready for a breakout year. By becoming more physical, making plays in the corners and along the boards, he can use his offensive talents to create more scoring chances for his linemates.
Voran also had 19 points playing right wing as a freshman only to see his numbers drop to five goals and five assists for 10 points a year ago. After a slow start, he did see his game come on in the second half. The 5-11, 188-pound forward has excellent hockey smarts and the ability to set up goals or score them. He gives the Irish versatility along the front line as he can play a variety of roles and do them well. He has always been a scorer everywhere he's played and will be looking to get back into that role again this season.
There are just two forwards among the sophomore class and they both line up at right wing. Peter Schneider (Vienna, Austria) and Austin Wuthrich (Anchorage, Alaska) both saw plenty of action in their rookie seasons and will be counted on this year.
Schneider, a native of Austria, got his feet wet a year ago, playing in 23 games and scoring a pair of goals with four assists. A talented scorer in juniors, Schneider has a tremendous work ethic and has outstanding instincts with the puck. The `11-'12 season was his year to adapt to Division I college hockey and this year he should take the next step in becoming a bonafide scorer. The 5-11, 192-pound right wing has tremendous speed and will look to use it to force opponents into mistakes this season.
Wuthrich came into his freshman season as an unknown and turned an outstanding rookie year into becoming a fourth-round draft choice of the Washington Capitals. He led all Irish freshmen in scoring with seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points and fit right into the lineup. A big, (6-1, 198) quick forward, Wuthrich scored some big goals and played with a physical edge. He led the team with a +4 on the year. A hard-working player with good hockey instincts, the Alaska native saw action in a variety of roles as a freshman and will be counted on again this season.
The final four forwards come from the freshman class and have to rank among the top rookie forwards in the nation. Thomas DiPauli (Woodridge, Ill.) Steven Fogarty (Edina, Minn.), Sam Herr (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Mario Lucia (Plymouth, Minn.) bring size, quickness and plenty of offensive skills to Notre Dame this year and all played for championship teams a year ago.
DiPauli is a product of the U.S. National Developmental Program and can play center or wing. He has outstanding hockey smarts and does all the little things well, like protect the puck, kill penalties and win face offs. His speed opens the ice for his linemates. At 5-11, 185, he has the ability to control play and the speed of the game. With the USA Under-18 team last season he had 10 goals and 11 assists in 55 games and served as an alternate team captain on the team that won the gold medal in the Under-18 World Championships last April.
Fogarty hails from Minnesota but took his game to British Columbia last season to play for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). A third-round draft choice of the New York Rangers in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-3 center was seventh in scoring at Penticton with 33 goals and 49 assists for 82 points. At 6-3, 202-pounds, Fogarty adds to Notre Dame's size at center. Loaded with potential, he knows how to use his size and skating ability to protect the puck and make plays. He's got good hands and can score in the clutch as he had 10 game winners last season. His skills helped Penticton to the BCHL regular-season and playoff championships and the RBC Cup as the champion of Canadian junior hockey.
Herr (pronounced Hair) will patrol the left side and was originally known as a hard-nosed defensive scorer. Last year in the USHL with the Green Bay Gamblers, he blossomed into a scorer, helping the Gamblers to the USHL's Clark Cup title.
Herr spent two seasons in Green Bay and is an "honest" hockey player with outstanding character and leadership skills. He checks in at 6-0 and 204 pounds and has excellent hockey skills and the ability to do the little things well. With Green Bay last season, Herr was 12th in the USHL scoring race with 30 goals and 26 assists for 56 points in 55 games. He tied for the league lead with a +35 plus-minus and chipped in eight power-play goals and four game winners. In the playoffs, Herr added seven goals and nine assists for 16 points and was named the most valuable player of the playoffs.
Rounding out the freshman group at forward is Lucia, another Minnesota native, who played in the BCHL with Penticton a year ago where he was Fogarty's teammate. The Irish will be without his services until the middle of November due to a broken left leg suffered during the preseason.
The talented left wing is the son of former Irish defenseman and current University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia `81, helped his Vee teammates to the BCHL regular-season and postseason title and then the RBC Cup championship. He was second on the team with 42 goals and 52 assists for 94 points, getting 14 power-play goals, two shorties and two game winners on the way to being the Interior Division's rookie of the year.
Lucia, a second-round draft choice of the Minnesota Wild in 2011, has all the tools to be a standout offensive player for the Irish. At 6-3, 193 pounds, he is a strong skater with great hands and natural goal-scoring ability. He's got great vision on the ice and makes things happen when he has the puck.
"We have one of the better groups of freshmen forwards coming in. Obviously we will be playing the first six weeks without Mario Lucia, due to his injury," says Jackson.
"Mario, along with Steven Fogarty, Thomas DiPauli and Sam Herr all had great years last season. All four of them won championships in each place they played. Lucia and Fogarty won the BCHL championship in Penticton and then won the Canadian junior championship. DiPauli won a gold medal in the Under-18 world championships and Herr helped Green Bay to the USHL championship. They all made it to the last game last season and won."
The 2012-13 Irish have a great mix of veteran players and an energetic group of underclassmen who will look to prove they can play at a high level night in and night out.
If Notre Dame can return to its scoring ways of two years ago, they have the defense and the goaltending to take them a long way. Jackson and his staff are excited about the start of the new season that begins on Oct. 7 against the U.S. National Under-18 team.
"I really believe that we're on the cusp of taking the program to that next level where we can learn to be a good program every year," says Jackson.
"Last year was another step in that direction. Sometimes you have to lose to learn how to win. The great teams we've had in the past embraced the expectations; they didn't fear them. That kind of mindset is what makes you a winning program."