Oct. 10, 2007
Notre Dame, Ind. -
Lefty McFadden Invitational Nutter Center (9,950) Dayton, Ohio Friday, Oct.12 #7/#8 Notre Dame (0-0-0) vs. #14/#15 Wisconsin (0-0-0) 5:05 p.m. #nr/#19 Ohio State (0-0-0) vs. Mercyhurst (0-0-0) 8:05 p.m.
THE BIG 4-0: When Notre Dame and Wisconsin drop the puck on Friday night in Dayton, Ohio it will mark the start of the 40th season in the Division I history of the Fighting Irish hockey program. The Irish are coming off the finest season in their history after going 32-7-3 last season on the way to winning the CCHA regular season and tournament championship for the first time in the program's history. Notre Dame advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second time ever (2004 was other appearance) and was seeded first in the Midwest Regional at Grand Rapids, Mich. Notre Dame won its' first NCAA Tournament game, defeating Alabama-Huntsville, 3-2, in double overtime before falling to Michigan State, 2-1, in the regional final.
THE LEFTY McFADDEN INVITATIONAL: The Irish make their first appearance in the Lefty McFadden Invitational and will face a ranked opponent, #14/#15 Wisconsin in the opening game on Friday, Oct. 12. The last time Notre Dame opened the season versus a ranked foe came in 2005-06 when the Irish opened at #4 Colorado College and #9 Denver. Notre Dame and Wisconsin will meet for the 62nd time in the all-time series with the Badgers holding a 38-16-7 edge in the first 61 games. The two teams were members of the WCHA from 1971-72 to 1980-81 before the Irish moved to the CCHA. The last time the two schools met was in 2004-05 with the Badgers taking a pair of 2-0 shutouts, one at the Joyce Center and the other at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.
GAME TWO: The second game of the tournament will have Notre Dame facing either Ohio State or Mercyhurst. The Irish and Buckeyes face each other on a regular basis in the CCHA and will meet in two regular season games on Feb. 22-23 in South Bend. Ohio State leads the all-time series with a 25-23-7 record with the Irish going 2-0-1 in the last three meetings. Notre Dame and Mercyhurst have not met since the 1990-91 season when both programs were independents. The Irish are 3-0-0 versus the Lakers all-time.
CAPTAINS: Senior right wing Mark Van Guilder (Roseville, Minn.) will serve as Notre Dame's captain for the 2007-08 season. Joining Van Guilder as alternate captains in `07-'08, are senior defensemen Brock Sheahan (Lethbridge, Alb.) and Dan VeNard (Vernon Hills, Ill.). They will be joined by junior forward Erik Condra (Livonia, Mich.). This is the first season for all four players to serve as captains at Notre Dame.
DROP THE PUCK: For the third season in a row, the Irish will open the year with the "Drop The Puck Reception" at the Joyce Center. This year's event will take place on Oct. 10 with former Detroit Red Wings' great and current team vice-president Steve Yzerman serving as guest speaker. This year's reception will take place prior to the annual Blue/Gold intrasquad scrimmage. Yzerman joins Chicago Blackhawk TV analyst Ed Olczyk who was the guest speaker at the 2006 dinner and Scotty Bowman who handled the honors at the first one on Sept. 6, 2005. Bowman, who won nine Stanley Cups in his illustrious coaching career, also was invited by Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis to address his team at practice on Sept. 6, just four days prior to the upset win at Michigan.
TOP CLASSES: Notre Dame's incoming freshman class of seven has been ranked among the best for the 2007-08 season. Inside College Hockey.com ranked the group fourth in it's preseason rankings while Red Line Report ranked the group fifth in the nation last spring. Inside College Hockey.com rankings:
1. Wisconsin 2. Boston University 3. New Hampshire 4. Notre Dame 5. Michigan 6. Michigan State 7. Miami 8. Boston College 9. Denver 10. Minnesota
Red Line Report rankings had Wisconsin first, followed by Boston University, Michigan, Boston College, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Ohio State and North Dakota. Four of Notre Dame's seven freshmen were drafted - Ian Cole (first round, St. Louis), Teddy Ruth (second round, Washington), Ben Ryan (fourth round, Nashville) and Brad Phillips (seventh round, Philadelphia).
THE KIDS WERE ALRIGHT: Notre Dame placed three players on the CCHA all-rookie team in 2007. Forwards Kevin Deeth (Gig Harbor, Wash.) and Ryan Thang (Edina, Minn.) were joined by defenseman Kyle Lawson (New Hudson, Mich.). Notre Dame became the third school in CCHA history to have three players on the all-rookie team, joining Michigan (five times) and Michigan State (once). The 1993-94 Michigan team set the record with four freshmen named to that team. Thang became the first Irish freshman to score 20 or more goals in a season since Dave Poulin `82 had 28 in his rookie year of 1978-79. His 20 goals were the sixth most by a Notre Dame freshman while his 41 points tied for eighth best. Deeth's 17 goals tied him for the eighth-best total and his 39 points tied him for 10th among Irish freshmen.
IRON MAN: Senior center Mark Van Guilder has his sights set on Notre Dame's all-time record for most consecutive games played. The record of 153 straight games was set by Tim Wallace `06 who played in every game of his career - 153 straight. Van Guilder enters the 2007-08 campaign having played in every game over the last three years with a total of 116 games played. The Irish have 38 games on the regular-season schedule.
LEADER OF THE PACK: Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson begins his third season behind the Irish bench in 2007-08. In his first two years he has compiled a 45-26-7 (.622) record, highlighted by last season's 32-7-3 campaign. He was named the CCHA coach-of-the-year and followed that with the Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach-of-the-year. Jackson enters the `07-'08 season with the best winning percentage among Division I coaches with five or more years. His current overall record stands at 227-78-32 for a .721 winning percentage. His 227 wins rank him 21st on the all-time active list. In six seasons at his previous collegiate stop - Lake Superior State (1990-96) - Jackson's teams were 182-52-25 with two national championships, two CCHA regular-season titles and four CCHA tournament championships. Included in his 227 career wins are 41 postseason victories and a .804 winning percentage (41-10 in postseason). In eight trips to the CCHA postseason, Jackson's teams are 28-4 (.875). Those totals include a 24-2 mark at Lake Superior and a 4-2 record at Notre Dame. In those eight seasons, Jackson has seen his teams advance to the CCHA finals seven times, winning five tournament championships (four at Lake Superior and one at Notre Dame).
MR PRESIDENT: Senior defenseman Dan VeNard has been named the president of Notre Dame's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for the 2007-08 school year. VeNard was the hockey team's representative to the group last season and was selected president by the group in September. The committee represents Notre Dame's student-athletes with the Irish athletic department.
SWEDISH CONNECTION: For the first time in the 40-year history of the Notre Dame hockey program, the Irish will have two natives of Sweden on the roster. Freshmen Robin Bergman (Stockholm) and Calle Ridderwall (Stockholm) join the roster this season. Both played last year in the USHL; Bergman for Cedar Rapids and Ridderwall for Tri-City. Bergman had 26 goals and 17 assists for 43 points. His 17 power-play goals were second in the league. Ridderwall led Tri-City in scoring with 27 goals and 35 assists for 62 points. He had 14 power-play goals and seven game winners, the most in the league in that category.
NHL DRAFTEES: The Irish have seven players on the 2007-08 roster who have been selected in the National Hockey League's Entry Draft. Last June, a total of five Notre Dame players were selected. Leading the way was freshman defenseman Ian Cole (Ann Arbor, Mich.) who was a first-round selection of the St. Louis Blues who took him with the 18th pick overall. Cole became the first Irish player ever selected in the first round and was selected earlier than any other Notre Dame player (Rob Globke `04 was the previous highest selection when he was picked 40th overall by Florida in 2002). Cole was followed by fellow freshman defenseman Teddy Ruth (Naperville, Ill.) who went in the second round, 46th overall to the Washington Capitals. Sophomore Ryan Thang (Edina, Minn.) was selected in the third round, 81st overall by the Nashville Predators. Incoming freshman Ben Ryan (Brighton, Mich.) joined Thang when the Predators made him the 114th pick (fourth round). Freshman goaltender Brad Phillips (Farmington Hills, Mich.) rounded out the Notre Dame selections in the last draft when the Philadelphia Flyers selected him in the seventh round, 182nd overall. Those five join junior right wing Erik Condra (Livonia, Mich.) who was selected in the seventh round, 211th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2006 and sophomore defenseman Kyle Lawson (New Hudson, Mich.) who was selected in the 2005 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes in the seventh round, 198th overall.
IN THE SHOW: Three former Notre Dame players opened the season on National Hockey League rosters. Defensemen Mark Eaton and Brett Lebda `04 opened the season on the blue lines for Pittsburgh and Detroit respectively. Forward Rob Globke `04 started the year with the Florida Panthers.
NUMERO UNO: The Notre Dame hockey program achieved many firsts during the 2006-07 season and one of those was being ranked number one in the nation for the first time ever. The Irish moved into the top spot in both the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine and USCHO.com/CSTV polls on Mon., Feb. 5, 2007 and remained there for seven consecutive weeks through March 25. The Irish finished the year ranked fourth in the USA Today poll that covers the entire season and finished number one in the USCHO.com poll that ended with the finish of the regular season. The Irish entered the 2007-08 season ranked eighth in both polls to start the year.
GETTING A CHANCE: The Irish will look to find a replacement for All-American goaltender David Brown (30-6-3, 1.58, .931 sv%, 6 shutouts) to start the new season. Head coach Jeff Jackson will have three goaltenders to choose from. Leading the way will be junior Jordan Pearce (Anchorage, Alaska) who is the only goaltender who saw playing time last year on the roster. Pearce was 2-1-0 last season with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage with one shutout. For his career, he is 6-5-0 with a 2.89 goals against and a .885 save percentage with a pair of shutouts. Sophomore Tom O'Brien (Mokena, Ill.) was the team's third goaltender a year ago and did not see any game action in `06-'07. Freshman Brad Phillips (Farmington Hills, Mich.) was among the top-ranked goaltenders in the nation last year while playing with the USA Under-18 team. He was 15-5-2 overall with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage and two shutouts last year.
WELCOME BACK: Junior defenseman Luke Lucyk (Fox Point, Wis.) returns to the Notre Dame lineup this season after spending the 2006-07 season with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL. Lucyk played in 44 games for the Irish between 2004-06 with one goal and one assist for two points. He returned to Tri-City last season to get more playing time and had nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points in 59 games.
LEADING THE NATION: Defense was the key to Notre Dame's success in 2006-07 as the Irish led the nation in several categories. As a team, Notre Dame surrendered just 1.67 goals as a team and was also tops in the area of goal differential as they scored 1.74 more goals than they game up to rank first in that category. Goaltender David Brown `07 led the nation with a 1.58 goals-against average and his 30 wins were also tops. In the area of penalty killing, the Irish also did it best as they allowed just 20 opponent power-play goals on 209 chances for a 90.4% success rate.
WORST TO FIRST: Just two seasons ago (2004-05), Notre Dame was 5-27-6 overall and finished last in the CCHA with a 3-20-5 record. In the CCHA's 35-year history, no team has ever gone from worst-to-first in one season. There have been three teams go from worst to first in a two-season span. They are:
1975-76 Bowling Green - Falcons finished last in 1973-74 in a three team conference and finished first in '75-'76 in a five-team league.
1992-93 Miami - RedHawks were last in 1990-91 with nine points in a nine-team conference. They finished first in 1992-93 with 49 points in a 12-team conference for a 40-point improvement over two seasons.
2006-07 Notre Dame - Irish were last in 2004-05 with 11 points in a 12-team conference. In `06-'07, the Irish took first place with 45 points for a 34-point improvement over two seasons.
HOME SWEET HOME: Notre Dame was 13-2-2 at home in 2006-07 for an .824 winning percentage. That was the best mark since the 2003-04 season when the Irish were 14-2-2 at the Joyce Center for an .833 winning percentage. Only two other Irish teams have had better home records - 1987-88 team was 18-2-0 (.900) and the 1969-70 team was 12-1-1 (.893).
BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE: Notre Dame hockey games became a tough ticket during the 2006-07 season as the Irish closed out their home schedule last year with eight consecutive sellouts. From Dec. 10 until the end of the year, Notre Dame played in front of capacity crowds in 10 of its' 11 games. For the year, the Irish had 11 sellouts (2,763) in 17 home dates and averaged 2,478 fans per game.
JUNIOR EVALUATIONS: Three members of the Notre Dame freshman class participated in the U.S. Junior Evaluation Camp this past August in hopes of making the United States' roster for the 2007 World Junior Championships. Freshmen defensemen Ian Cole and Teddy Ruth were joined by center Ben Ryan. Irish head coach Jeff Jackson served as one of the assistant coaches at the camp.
ALL TIED UP: Notre Dame's 3-2 overtime win versus Alabama-Huntsville in the NCAA Regionals on March 23, 2007 gave the Irish a 3-1-3 record in overtime last year. The three overtime wins were the most-ever for the Irish in a single season. In 59 overtime games since the start of the 1999-2000 season, the Irish are 10-7-42 in overtime. In two seasons under Jeff Jackson, Notre Dame is 3-1-7 in extra play.
FAMILY MATTERS: Two members of the Notre Dame hockey team - forwards Erik Condra and Garrett Regan (Hastings, Minn.) - have family ties to the Irish hockey program. Condra's uncle is All-American forward Kirt Bjork (`83) who played at Notre Dame from 1979-83. He scored 76 goals with 85 assists for 161 career points in 141 career games. He took All-America honors in 1983 when he had 29 goals and 34 assists for 63 points. Regan's uncle - Sean Regan - was a defenseman for the Irish from 1981-83 before finishing his career at the University of Minnesota.
MORE FAMILY MATTERS: Freshman goaltender Brad Phillips also has a family connection to Notre Dame. His uncle is former Irish quarterback Terry Andrysiak who played at Notre Dame from 1985 to 1988.
PUTTING ON THE FOIL: Notre Dame junior Christian Hanson (Venetia, Pa.) is the sixth player to play for the Irish whose father played in the National Hockey League. His father, Dave Hanson, played 10 years of professional hockey between 1974-75 and 1983-84, including stints with the Detroit Red Wings and the Minnesota North Stars and the World Hockey Association's (WHA) Minnesota Fighting Saints and the New England Whalers. Fans might also be familiar with Dave Hanson, as one of the famed Hanson Brothers, made famous in the hockey movie - Slapshot. Hanson currently is the director of the Island Sports Center, home of Robert Morris University's hockey team, in suburban Pittsburgh.