Oct. 9, 2013
Notre Dame, Ind. -
Hockey returns to Notre Dame this Friday night, Oct. 11 at 8:05 p.m. when the Compton Family Ice Arena will be packed as the Irish take on fairly local rivals Western Michigan to start a busy home-and-home weekend series. Saturday night the two teams will battle at 7:05 p.m. at Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich.
While it's two long-time rivals that will be flying up and down the ice, looking to pick up early-season wins, things will be a bit different.
For the first time since the 1991-92 campaign, the Irish and the Broncos will be in different leagues as their days in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) came to an end with Notre Dame captain Anders Lee and his teammates carrying the Mason Cup around Joe Louis Arena last March 24th.
With the changes in the college hockey landscape, the Irish will now play in Hockey East while Western Michigan moves to the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), a conference that includes Colorado College, Denver, Miami, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan.
While they may be in new conference's look for the series that has seen 84 games played to date (the Broncos have a 41-33-10 advantage in those games) continue. The two teams will meet twice this weekend and then could see each other one more time in the regular season as the Broncos participate in the 2013 Shillelagh Tournament November 29-30.
RUST NEVER SLEEPS
Senior right wing Bryan Rust has faced Western Michigan 12 times in his Notre Dame career and goes into this weekend's series tied with fellow senior Jeff Costello as Notre Dame's leading scorer against the Broncos as both have three goals and four assists for seven points in those 12 games. The veteran forward is coming off the best season of his career as he had career-bests in goals (15), assists (19), points (34), power-play goals (5) and game winners (4). He knows just how tough playing Western Michigan can be.
"Western Michigan is always a very disciplined team. They work hard offensively and defensively," says Rust.
"When we go to their rink on Saturday night, they have a smaller rink. They play hard, they play physical, so we have to work on getting pucks in deep and getting on their D and working on our cycle game. We have to get pucks to the net because they have a great goalie. The only way to beat him is to get some second opportunities and getting guys to the front of the net."
The Novi, Mich., native also knows how tough the Broncos are defensively even without All-American Danny DeKeyser who now patrols the blue line for the Detroit Red Wings.
"He (DeKeyser) was a force for them on defense," says Rust.
"Congratulations to him on being with the Wings and he is going to have a great career there. But, they have other great guys back there, like (Kenney) Morrison, (Dennis) Brown and (Jordan) Oesterle. They are all good defensemen and we are going to have to work just as hard against him them as we did against him.
TALKING ABOUT THE GRYPHONS
Head Coach Jeff Jackson talked about his impressions of his team after the 5-2 win over Guelph last Sunday evening.
"For a first game, there were some good things. Obviously there were little things that you have to work on," said Jackson.
"For the most part, there were a lot of positives. We could have scored three or four more goals but we missed some opportunities or missed the net. The things that show up most early in the year are breakdowns defensively and we didn't have many of those. That might change against a team like Western Michigan."
Jackson on his lines:
"We have a couple of fluid situations. We want to have two lines that potentially can score and a third line that can chip in too, would be nice," said Jackson.
"Based on what we saw on Sunday, (Mike) Voran and (David) Gerths, they played with Sammy Herr and that line might be able to score some goals. The years that we've had the most success here were when we had four lines that could all contribute, maybe not to the same degree but they all contributed. We are close, but we have a couple pieces to fill in. It's going to be a tough decision this weekend. We could be sitting out a player that has played a fair amount in the past based on the players that we have playing. If guys like Sam Herr and Garrett Peterson step up, that pushes other guys potentially out of the lineup.
A DYNAMIC DUO
For Irish hockey fans that haven't seen them play yet, keep and eye out for numbers 13 and 14 when they hit the ice this weekend versus Western Michigan. That would be freshman Vince Hinostroza and sophomore Thomas DiPauli. Both players hail from the Chicago area with Hinostroza from Bartlett, Ill., and DiPauli from Woodridge. The duo brings speed, hustle and determination to the lineup and are fun to watch. Hinostroza had a goal and an assist in the win over Guelph while DiPauli was +2 for the evening. From the looks of things, they could see lots of playing time together this season.
"We've been together since day one here at Notre Dame. Coach has been trying different players at right wing," said DiPauli, a native of Caldero, Italy who moved to Chicago at the age of 12.
"Vinnie and I have good chemistry, but I don't know who coach will put into that role on right wing; whomever fits into that role the best."
For DiPauli, who played for the U.S. National Program before joining the Irish last season when he scored five goals and added seven assists for 12 points in 41 games, there is a good reason for that chemistry.
"We are best friends off the ice too and that has a lot to do with our chemistry. Ever since I moved here, he was my first buddy here. We played together for four years with the Chicago Mission, so the chemistry is there. We both have decent speed and good vision so we tend to find each other and make plays from nowhere," explains DiPauli.
"I moved here when I was 12 to try out for the Chicago Mission. I didn't know anyone and I didn't speak English and he was the first one to come up to me and invited me over to his house. We grew up together and were always together off the ice. He introduced me to different guys and taught me a lot about American culture."
A NEW CONFERENCE
Two summers ago, when college hockey was making its changes with the start of a Big 10 hockey conference and the birth of the new NCHC, people were saying that the Irish follow the saying, "And go west young man." After weighing the options, Notre Dame decided to go east and found themselves as the 11th member of Hockey East, a conference that is in its 30th season.
While local fans know lots about the CCHA and the WCHA, Hockey East has established itself as one of the premier hockey conferences in the nation featuring Boston College, Boston University, Maine, Massachusetts, UMass.-Lowell, Merrimack, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Providence College and Vermont with the University of Connecticut joining next season. Three Hockey East teams - Boston College (2001, 2008, 2010, 2012), Boston University (1995, 2009) and Maine (1993, 1999) - have won eight NCAA titles in the first 29 years of the league. Seven Hockey East players have won the Hobey Baker Memorial Trophy.
Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson and his team are excited to get things started in the new conference.
"We're excited about the start of a new season. Ever since the finish of last year, we've all been motivated to get back to starting over again," says Jackson, who starts his ninth year behind the Notre Dame bench.
"Moving into a new conference is going to be an exciting year for us. We will be playing so many new teams, in a much different environment in the East. It will be fun with a lot of televised games; a lot of televised games, a lot of home games, a number of non-conference games that we haven't seen a lot of in recent years. It's going to be a great year especially for our fans and our students at home. We are excited and looking forward to a new challenge."
WHERE ARE THEY NOW
With the NHL schedule now in its second week and the American Hockey League getting underway, here is where former Irish hockey players are playing this year. As of this week, 17 former players are playing professionally, including in Europe. The East Coast Hockey League and the Central Hockey League start later and have not listed rosters to date:
Ian Cole - St. Louis Blues
Erik Condra `09 - Ottawa Senators
Kyle Palmieri - Anaheim Ducks
The following players are currently in the American Hockey League:
Christian Hanson `09 - Chicago Wolves
Joe Lavin `11 - Springfield Falcons
Anders Lee - Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Christian Minella `09 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Evan Rankin `07 - Syracuse Crunch
Teddy Ruth - Milwaukee Admirals
Riley Sheahan - Grand Rapids Griffins
Mark Van Guilder `08 - Milwaukee Admirals
The following player plays in the East Coast Hockey League.
Patrick Gaul `12 - South Carolina Stingrays
The following player plays in the Central Hockey League.
David Brown `07 - Arizona Sundogs
The following players are now in Europe:
Ryan Thang `10 - Mora IK (Sweden)
Calle Ridderwall `11 - Prague Lev (KHL)
Yan Stastny - Nuremberg (Germany)
Tim Wallace `06 - Orebro HK (Sweden)