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Oct 12, 2010

The House that Jackson Built

IrishGirl10 is back with another guest post for Irish Creed,
 this time providing the Fighting Irish Faithful with an inside look at Notre Dame Hockey.

I grew up in Northern Wisconsin just a stone’s throw from the Minnesota border. For some of you this means I must live on a farm, root for the Packers like it’s my only reason for existing and subsist on a diet of beer and cheese. And you’d be pretty accurate. What you missed in this equation, however, is hockey. My town, and the surrounding region (which pretty much goes all the way up to Canada), live and breathe hockey. As such, I was a little nervous about going to Notre Dame. They had a hockey team, sure, but compared to the domination of my home state Badgers and my brother’s support of the Fighting Sioux out in North Dakota, I was a little nervous that Our Lady’s loyal sons would disappoint out on the ice. To say these worries were completely unwarranted is a vast understatement and does a great disservice to the Irish Hockey Team’s meteoric rise to supremacy in the CCHA and the NCAA itself. Where did this team come from?

Cue coach Jeff Jackson.

Jackson arrived on the South Bend scene in 2005; the new head coach of a team coming off a 5-27-6 season. With two NCAA Championships under his belt from Lake Superior State University, Jackson wasn’t fazed. Instead, he went to work. In his first year, the team improved to 13-19-4; in 2006-2007, the Irish had a record-breaking season with 32 overall wins and their first-ever CCHA regular season and tournament championship titles; they went on to the NCAA tournament for the second time in program history and were rewarded with an unprecedented tournament win. Coach Jackson was also rewarded; he was named CCHA Coach of the Year and received the Spencer Penrose Award for the National Coach of the Year. Hardly one to rest on his laurels, in the 2007-2008 season, Jackson guided the Irish through their repeat advancement to the NCAA tournament. This time, the Irish persevered to reach their first-ever Frozen Four and eventual berth into the NCAA Championship game, where they suffered a devastating loss at the hands of Boston College. In the 2008-2009 season, Notre Dame earned its second CCHA title, but their season ended in the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinal with a loss to Bemidji State – the small Minnesota school would go on to win the NCAA title in Cinderella-like fashion. In 2009-2010, my last season as a student, the Irish were 13-17-8 overall, their play-off dreams cut short by consecutive losses in the CCHA tournament.

This brings us to our current season. With the performance of coach Jackson seemingly guaranteed to be solid, what this season holds for the Irish comes down to the boys in the skates. Despite the loss of some talent due to both graduation and the NHL draft, the Irish feature a strong returning roster that is bolstered by 13 new and highly capable additions. Led by their veteran captains – Seniors Joe Lavin, Calle Ridderwall (team MVP and Offensive Player of the Year as voted by the ND Monogram Club), Ben Ryan, and Ryan Guentzel – this freshmen class features: three players from the USA Hockey’s National Team Developmental Program (Johns, Rust, Tinordi), eight players fresh from the United States Hockey League (USHL), two players that have already been drafted by NHL teams (Costello, Lee), and five who were listed by the NHL’s Central Scouting in their final rankings prior to the June Entry Draft (Johns, Rust, Tinordi, and Lind). Not too shabby considering the talent these guys are joining ranks with.

Last Sunday, the Irish opened preseason play with a 5-3 win over the University of Guelph. They resumed preseason play this weekend in St. Louis at the Ice Breaker Tournament, beating Holy Cross 6-3 in the opening match. Freshman left wing Anders Lee made a strong entrance to his Notre Dame career, tallying an impressive hat trick for the Irish – with assists by Kevin Lind, Ben Ryan, and Ryan Guentzel. Joining Lee on the scoreboard were senior Joe Lavin, sophomore Nick Larson, and fellow freshman T.J. Tynan (assists by Ryan Guentzel, Mike Johnson, Riley Sheahan, Shayne Taker, Billy Maday, and Nick Larson). The Irish succeeded in shutting down Holy Cross in all six of their power-play opportunities and managed to capitalize upon one of their own four power-play chances with a goal. This win allowed the Irish to advance to the championship game against Boston University, which ended in a devastating last minute 5-4 loss. Our stellar freshman class continued their strong performance with goals by Bryan Rust (Riley Sheahan, Joe Lavin) and Shayne Taker (Anders Lee). Scoring twice in the second period was sophomore Nick Larson, who was twice assisted by T.J. Tynan and Billy Maday. The Irish managed to out-shoot B.U. 34-24, with neither team capitalizing on the power play (ND 0/7, B.U. 0/4). Following the tournament, freshman Anders Lee was named the CCHA Rookie of the Week.  

The Irish will look to their talented freshmen and established leaders as they open their season this weekend in a home series against the Lake Superior State Lakers, the games are slotted for 7:35 p.m. on October 14 and 15 at the Joyce Center.

Now I know you Irish fans are content to let football consume your life this Fall, but when the temperatures start dropping in South Bend to those lovely flesh-freezing levels (literally.), don’t hesitate to take your raucous support indoors to watch the Irish Icers skate their way to an NCAA title.



  1. Great addition to Irish Creed! Im currently live in Minnesnowta but love the Packers and Irish!

  2. Good summary! I'm from Eau Claire, WI and played travel hockey growing up so I understand your passion for the sport. It's amazing to see what Jackson is doing with the program and I will definitely try to go back and visit campus for some hockey games in the coming years.

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  4. Really, Silica Gel?! Are you saying our hockey team needs to shake of the rust after a long off-season? Or should I be expecting a check in the mail covering our advertising fee of $500,000 for every day your comment remains on our site?


2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(