Oct. 30, 2013
Notre Dame, Ind. -
The date was October 11, 2011. That's when the announcement was made that Notre Dame hockey would be moving to Hockey East. We roll ahead to this Friday, November 1, 2013. That's when it finally happens. Notre Dame will play its first Hockey East game. The game will be played at 7:05 p.m., in beautiful Burlington, Vt., when the Irish battle the University of Vermont Catamounts at one of college hockey's toughest venues - Gutterson Fieldhouse.
The two teams will then play at 4:35 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2 as Vermont celebrates the 50th anniversary of the program's first year in 1963. Since the University of Vermont is new to many Notre Dame hockey fans, here is a little primer for those who don't know a great deal about one of America's oldest universities.
IRISH VERSUS THE CATAMOUNTS
The two teams have met just twice in their program histories with the Irish holding a 1-0-1 advantage. The last time the two schools met was on Dec. 29, 2002 in Hanover, N.H., in the third-place game at the Ledyard National Bank Tournament hosted by Dartmouth. Notre Dame and Vermont battled to a 3-3 overtime tie to tie for third in the tournament.
The Catamounts are 1-1-1 in the early part of the schedule, having opened the season with a series at North Dakota before playing last Saturday versus Penn State at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Arena. Head coach Jeff Jackson believes his team is ready for the start of the Hockey East schedule.
"We're excited about getting started, but it's going to be different. It's (playing in Hockey East) going to take some time to get used to," explains Jackson.
"As time goes on that will change. But, we are facing new teams in new buildings and that will be different. They only have to face one new team; we will have to face 10. Playing Vermont will be a challenge for us. We've watched film on them but you really don't get a sense of how they play the game until you actually play them."
He adds, "We will have to make adjustments on the fly and be prepared for whatever they throw at us. We make sure that our guys are prepared for certain situations, but they still have to be able to respond to the nature of the game. It will be different at Gutterson Arena. It's a unique old building. It's loud so we have to adjust to that too."
Jackson knows that Vermont will be ready to face the Irish on an important weekend for the Catamounts as they celebrate their home opener and the 50th anniversary of the program.
"Vermont started out pretty well," says Jackson.
"They lost to North Dakota by a goal at North Dakota and then tied them. That's a tough place to play. Then they beat Penn State pretty good last weekend. They have had a lot of time to prepare because they have only played three games while we've played six. They will be ready for us."
UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT 101
The University of Vermont is one of the oldest universities in the United States as it opened in 1791. The school is located in Burlington, Vermont on beautiful Lake Champlain and is 45 miles from the Quebec/Canada border, 97 miles southeast of Montreal, Que., and 144 miles north of Albany, N.Y. The University has 10,192 students and has been a member of Hockey East since the 2005-06 season. Folks in the east refer to Vermont as UVM, which are the initials for Universitas Virdis Montis, which is Latin for University of the Green Mountains. Vermont's nickname is the Catamounts - a legendary mountain cat found in the state's Green Mountains. The species is believed to be extinct in the state since the mid-1800's. On the hockey side of the lesson, head coach Kevin Sneddon (2003-present) is just the fourth head coach in the program's history and was preceded by Mike Gilligan (1984-03), Jim Cross (1965-84) and Bill Ruffer (1963-65). Vermont has had 21 hockey All-Americans, been to the NCAA Tournament five times and the Frozen Four twice (1996, 2009). The Cats have sent 14 players to the NHL while having its alumni win seven Stanley Cups and 11 major NHL awards (the second highest total among NCAA schools). Among its current players in the NHL are Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay), Patrick Sharp (Chicago), Viktor Stallberg (Nashville), Torrey Mitchell (Minnesota) and Tim Thomas (Florida). Last season, Vermont was 11-19-6 and finished tied for seventh in Hockey East with an 8-13-6 league record. For more information on the University of Vermont check the school's website at uvm.edu or the athletic site at uvmathletics.com.
ROOKIE OF THE MONTH
For Notre Dame freshman center Vince Hinostroza (Bartlett, Ill.) getting adjusted to hockey at the Division I level has been a smooth transition through his first month at Notre Dame.
After six games, the 5-9, 175-pound forward has proven that he belongs as he leads the Irish in scoring with three goals and five assists for eight points after the first six games of the season. For his great start, Hinostroza has been named the Hockey East/Pro Ambitions rookie of the month of October.
The honor doesn't come as a surprise to his head coach Jeff Jackson.
"Vinny is a guy that we expected to have an impact as a freshman," says Jackson.
"We had him play another year of junior hockey just for this reason - to make sure that he was strong enough to have an impact as a freshman. We knew he had the talent and he could have come in last year, but I was concerned about his body because he isn't the biggest cat in the world."
All Hinostroza has done through October is put up points in five of the team's six games (he currently has a four-game point streak with two goals and four assists since Oct. 18). Among his three goals are one power-play tally and he is tied for second on the team with 17 shots on goal and tied for the team lead with a +3. He has recorded a pair of multiple-point games, including a three-point game (2g, 1a) versus Michigan Tech on Oct. 20. He is second among rookie scorers in Hockey East and tied for third on the national level among all freshmen scorers with his eight points.
"Vinny competes real hard and has great hockey instincts," adds Jackson.
"The extra year certainly helped him and gave him confidence in his offensive game. Plus, he is getting power-play time and he's been part of a good line (with Thomas DiPauli and Peter Schneider) for us."
WELCOME TO COLLEGE HOCKEY
Taking a look back at last weekend's split at Minnesota Duluth is a weekend that Irish freshman goaltender Chad Katunar (Victoria, B.C.) won't soon forget. He saw his first playing time of the season in Friday night's 3-2 win because of a rather unique situation that doesn't happen very often. We take you to AMSOIL Arena and it's the third period with the Irish in control with a 3-1 lead.
Katunar is on the Irish bench watching senior goaltender Steven Summerhays (Sr., Anchorage, Alaska) and the Notre Dame defense doing its thing. Through the first five minutes of the third period, Summerhays has stopped 14 of 15 shots that the Bulldogs have mustered and seemed to be cruising towards his fifth consecutive victory. That's when things got crazy.
With Duluth on the attack, UMD junior right wing Adam Krause drove the crease and with a little assistance from Irish defenseman Andy Ryan (So., Brighton, Mich.) ended up slamming into Summerhays, driving him into the back of the net. The shot went wide of the goal and play continued towards the right corner. As Krause and Summerhays untangled, nothing was called on the play and the senior goaltender, so the senior goaltender decided to get a little justice for himself and went after the 6-3, 210-pound Krause with gloves and sticks flying. Players from both teams joined the battle and a pile of players ended up on the ice. When the officials sorted things out, Summerhays was issued a major penalty for grabbing the facemask and a game misconduct.
"My stick came out of my hand and as I was falling down, I just kind of was reaching for something," explained Summerhays earlier this week.
"It wasn't the smartest move, but I was falling back and was just reaching and grabbed his mask. I haven't seen a goalie kicked out in a college game, but the refs made the right call, it was a face-masking penalty."
Which brings us to the youngster Katunar watching all this on the bench. He went from minding his own business to now having to get focused on playing in the game and helping his team kill a five-minute major penalty.
"It all happened so fast. I was just watching the game and then I saw that they were kicking Summy (Summerhays) out and guys were telling me that I was going in," recalled Katunar.
"I turned around and grabbed my stick and just got out there and did the best I could."
Before the 6-5, 232-pound goaltender had a chance to even think about the situation, the Irish were called for another penalty, giving Duluth a 5-on-3 for two full minutes.
"It was quite something for your first game to go in there in front of that crowd and in a high-pressure situation like that on the penalty kill and then go down 5-on-3. I did get scored on there but it was a positive experience for me," says the Victoria, B.C. native.
"I was grateful for the chance to get to play and thankful that we ended up winning the game. Everything worked out well."
Katunar finished the game, playing 14:26 minutes and stopping five of the six shots he faced in a 3-2 win for Notre Dame. For a freshman, getting thrown in during the heat of the battle may have been the best way to get his introduction to Division I hockey.
"Coach and I talked about that after the game," said Katunar.
"It was so unexpected, going in like that. You don't have time to psych yourself out and make it into a bigger deal that it is. That was good to go in just like that."
The following night, the situation was a bit different for Katunar. This time he knew he was going to get the start because the coaching staff had decided that earlier in the week.
"I knew that if we won on Friday that I would be playing on Saturday a couple of days earlier," said Katunar.
"I was trying to get mentally prepared for that. That was a big moment for me, making my first collegiate start. My gold helmet came in earlier in the week so everything was coming together for me. It was a great experience. "
Things didn't go as well as the Irish would have liked on Saturday night as the Irish were out shot, 14-3, in the period and trailed, 3-0, after the first 20 minutes.
"We had a tough first period. Give them (Minnesota Duluth) credit, they played a great period," said Katunar.
"A couple of those goals I would like to have back. Coach J (Jackson) and I will definitely watch film of that period and I will work to make improvements in my game. I felt good in the game. I didn't feel any pressure, so I did take some positives from the game. You never want to get pulled but now I have some things that Coach J and I are going to work on to make it through a full game and have a little bit more success in there."
In an effort to get shake the team up, Jackson pulled Katunar to start the second period, replacing him with Summerhays. The Irish would score just once on the night in the eventual 4-1 loss to the Bulldogs. Katunar finished with 11 saves while Summerhays stopped 15 of 16 shots over the final 40 minutes of play.
FROM BURLINGTON TO PROVIDENCE TO ORONO - A LOOK AROUND HOCKEY EAST
It's official, teams from Hockey East won the inaugural Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge with a 7-4-2 record for an 18-11 point victory. In the 13-game series that ran from Oct. 18 to Oct. 26, Boston College had a win, a loss and a tie. Boston University had a win and two losses, New Hampshire a loss and a tie, UMass.-Lowell and UMass each won two games and Vermont had a single win ... speaking of Vermont, the Catamounts played Penn State at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadephia on Saturday and scored five unanswered goals in a 5-2 win over the Nittany Lions in front of 17,632 fans ... Providence College had a big home weekend series with third-ranked Miami and came away with an overtime win and a tie against the RedHawks ... freshman Niko Rufo scored the overtime game winner in Friday's 3-2 overtime thriller at Schneider Arena ... that win was the first for the Friars against a top-10 team since Feb. 9, 2001 ... Boston College visited No. 1 Minnesota, Notre Dame's next opponent and suffered a tie and a loss ... the Eagles' Michael Sit, a native of Edina, Minn., scored two goals in 11 seconds in the 3-3 tie and has three goals in his last two games ... Boston University played a weekend series at Michigan and Michigan State, losing both games ... the Terriers lead the nation in blocked shots with 111 through six games ... the University of Maine swept a home series with Massachusetts in Orono, Me., but both games were non-conference ... the two teams will tangle this weekend in Amherst, Mass., in games that will count in the league standings ... UMass leads the nation with 12 power-play goals ... while Boston University was losing both games in Ann Arbor and East Lansing last weekend, UMass.-Lowell visited Michigan State and Michigan and recorded 4-1 and 2-1 wins respectively. Sophomore goaltender Connor Hellebucyk, a Commerce, Mich., native stopped 62-of-64 shots in the two games and was named the Hockey East goaltender of the week for his efforts ... Merrimack senior Mike Collins recorded his 100th career point as the Warriors defeated Army, 4-2, at home ... New Hampshire dropped its only game of the week, a 4-2 loss at Rensselaer ... the Wildcats three losses this season have come against teams that are 12-2-2 to start the season... Northeastern moved to 5-0-0 for the first time since 1988-89 with a 6-3 win over St. Lawrence in Friday's game. The Huntington Hounds fell the next night, 6-4, to the Saints.