April 7, 2013
Notre Dame, Ind. – The Notre Dame hockey program announced its individual awards for the 2012-13 season at its annual Awards Program held Sunday afternoon at the Mendoza College of Business Atrium and Auditorium. The end-of-season program also honored the Irish graduating senior class of 2013.
Leading the list of honorees was junior center and team captain Anders Lee (Edina, Minn.) who was chosen by his teammates as the Notre Dame Monogram Club’s team most valuable player and the offensive player of the year award winner for the 2012-13 season.
In 41 games, Lee led the Irish in scoring with 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points and finished the year tied for the CCHA lead in goals and tied for third in overall scoring. A first team all-CCHA selection and a finalist for the league’s player of the year and top defensive forward awards, the 6-3, 227-pound forward had four power-play goals, a short-handed tally and two game winners. He led the Irish in goals, points, shots on goal and was a +18 for the season. He became the second Notre Dame player, along with teammate T.J. Tynan (Jr., Orland Park, Ill.) to be named to a CCHA all-conference team twice in his career. He was a second team selection as a freshman and was an honorable mention choice as a sophomore. Lee, currently playing for the New York Islanders, is the first Notre Dame player to have two 20-or-more goal campaigns in a career since Lou Zadra `92 had back-to-back 24-goal seasons in 1990-91 and 1991-92. He is just one of three players in Irish hockey history to lead the team in goals in three seasons, joining Rob Globke `04 (2000-01, 2002-04) and Aniket Dhadphale `99 who did it in 1995-96 and 1997-99. Since joining the Islanders on April 1, Lee scored a goal on his first shot as a pro and added an assist in his second game for two points in his first two games.
Sophomore right wing Peter Schneider (Vienna, Austria) was the recipient of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley’s Rockne Student-Athlete Award as the player with the top grade-point average on the team. A two-time monogram winner, Schneider has a 3.945 grade-point average with a double major in Economics and Business. He also has been named to the Dean’s List in each of those semesters. He was Notre Dame’s choice for the CCHA Scholar-Athlete Team and received that honor at the conference’s Awards Show in Detroit in March. On the ice, the speedy, right wing played in 35 games, scoring five goals with four assists for nine points and was +2 for the season.
Sophomore defenseman Robbie Russo (Westmont, Ill.) was the winner of the William Donald Nyrop defensive player of the year. The award is named after former Irish All-American defenseman Bill Nyrop `74, who played for the Irish from 1970-74. Recognized as one of the top defensemen ever to play at Notre Dame, Nyrop was an all-WCHA and All-American in 1973. He went on to play on three Stanley Cup championship teams with the Montreal Canadiens from 1976-78, before retiring to attend law school. Nyrop died after losing his battle with cancer on Dec. 31, 1995.
Russo turned in a career year on the Irish blue line in 2012-13 as he tied for fifth in scoring while leading all defensemen with 23 points on five goals and 18 assists while being +6 for the season. Four of his goals came on the power play while two were game winners and his 49 blocked shots were second best on the team. The quarterback of the Notre Dame power play, Russo’s 14 power-play points led the Irish and tied him for fifth among CCHA players. His 23 points ranked him second among CCHA defensemen in scoring.
Senior goaltender Mike Johnson (Verona, Wis.) was selected by the coaching staff as the winner of the Charles “Lefty” Smith Coaches Award, an award presented to the unsung hero of the hockey program, a player who is unheralded, has overcome adversity and shows loyalty and commitment to his teammates, Notre Dame hockey and the University of Notre Dame. The award is named after the first Irish hockey coach of the modern era – the late Charles “Lefty” Smith who served as head coach of the Irish for 19 seasons from 1968 to 1987, compiling a record of 307-320-30. During his 19 seasons, Smith produced six All-Americans and was the WCHA coach of the year following the 1972-73 season.
Johnson proved to be a team leader and the consummate team player as a senior. After playing in 91 games over his first three seasons and winning 39 games in goal during that time, he saw his role change as a senior as he became the back up to Steven Summerhays (Jr., Anchorage, Alaska). Despite the changes in playing time, he was willing to accept his role and was always ready to play when needed. He played in eight games, making six starts and was 4-1-1 with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. For his career, he saw action in 99 games, making 89 starts, turning in a 43-34-13 career record with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage with two shutouts. His performance in Manchester, N.H. in March of 2011 helped lead the Irish to their second-ever Frozen Four appearance. In his four seasons he was a player that had the respect of his coaches and his teammates, always giving his best while being a consummate team player.
Mike’s younger brother, Eric Johnson (So., Verona, Wis.) was selected as the winner of the team’s Most Improved Player Award. Eric Johnson broke into the Irish lineup this season and became a mainstay on the Notre Dame blue line after not seeing any action as a freshman. He played in 28 games on the year, scoring two goals with two assists for four points and was +6 on the season. He was fourth on the team with 33 blocked shots and he had the game winner in the Feb. 8, 7-4 win over Michigan.
Freshman left wing Mario Lucia (Plymouth, Minn.) was the team’s Rookie of the Year selection. The 2012-13 season did not start off the way Lucia would like as he suffered a broken fibula in one of the first practices of the year. After missing the first nine games of the season, he came back on Nov. 15 at Michigan and quickly made his presence known scoring his first collegiate goal in a 4-1 win over Michigan. He would go on to be a two-time CCHA rookie of the week in December and the CCHA rookie of the month for December. He finished the year by taking CCHA offensive player of the week honors in the final week of the regular season. In all he played in 32 games and scored 12 goals with 11 assists for 23 points. He tied for the team lead in power-play goals with five and game winners with four. He was selected to the CCHA all-rookie team and was a member of the gold-medal winning U.S. Junior National Team in December.
The Irish also honored former players, forward Kevin Nugent, Sr. `78 and defenseman Don Lucia `81 with their Distinguished Alumni Award. The award honors an alumnus of the program to acknowledge their accomplishments and the example they have set for other alums of the Notre Dame hockey program. The two former players’ sons, current senior Kevin Nugent (New Canaan, Conn.) and freshman Mario Lucia, presented the awards to their fathers. Nugent and Lucia join past winners – Dave Bossy `77, Paul Regan `73, Brian Walsh `77, Phil Wittliff ’71, Greg Meredith `80, Bob McNamara `83, Andy Slaggert `89, Dave Poulin’82, Dr. Michael Collins `70 and Mark Kronholm `74.
Nugent played for Coach Lefty Smith from 1974-78 and was a player who could put the puck in the net, as well as, play a physical style. In 131 career games, he scored 54 goals and added 75 assists for 129 career points. He currently ranks 25th on the school’s all-time scoring list. He also racked up 282 minutes in penalties for his career and was the school’s all-time leader in that category when he graduated and is now fourth all-time. He was a member of the 1976-77 Irish team that finished second in the WCHA regular season and second in the postseason tournament. Following his Notre Dame career, he was drafted by the Boston Bruins of the NHL and the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA where he spent a year playing professionally and was a teammate and linemate of 17-year old Wayne Gretzky. After one year of pro hockey he joined Petry Media as an Account Executive in both New York and Chicago. In 1982, he was promoted to the Chicago Group Sales Manager and in 1985 became the Vice President, New York Sales Manager. He became Petry Media’s Director of Sales in 1990 and was appointed Senior Vice President, Director of Sales in 1994, a role that he still holds today. Petry Media is a global multiplatform representation company that provides a full range of advertising sales and marketing support services for its clients, including television stations, cable networks, digital publishers and mobile content providers. He has coached and been a hockey instructor in New Canaan, Conn., along with a head coach and board member of the Connecticut Yankees Hockey Organization. He also has been a member of the Notre Dame Monogram Club for 38 years.
Lucia played at Notre Dame for Lefty Smith from 1977 to 1981 and was a teammate of Nugent’s in his freshman year with the Irish. An outstanding defenseman, he saw action in 124 games, scoring seven goals with 23 assists for 30 points and was a member of Notre Dame’s final team in the WCHA, serving as an alternate captain in his senior season. Following graduation, he got into coaching, spending four seasons as an assistant coach at Alaska Fairbanks and two as an assistant at Alaska Anchorage. He got his first head-coaching job in 1987 at Alaska Fairbanks and spent six years there before moving on to Colorado College in 1993. There, he led the Tigers to back-to-back trips to the Frozen Four in 1996 and 1997 while winning 166 games in six seasons. In 1999, he became the head coach at the University of Minnesota where he has been the bench boss for the past 14 seasons, winning 344 games, including 26 this past year. His Gopher teams won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2002 and 2003, have won four WCHA regular-season titles and three Final Five championships. A three time WCHA coach of the year, he won the Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year in 1994. After 26 years as a head coach, he has an all-time record of 623-337-88.
The hockey program also presented its Honorary Alumni Awards to Kevin and Gayla Compton and their family for their outstanding support of the Notre Dame hockey program. The Compton family helped move the Irish hockey program among the elite college hockey programs in the nation when they became the generous benefactors in support of the Ice Arena that now bears their name. The impact that the new arena has had not only on the Notre Dame hockey program but the entire South Bend and Michiana area has been unbelievable in just two short years of operation. Since opening in October of 2011, the Compton Family Ice Arena has hosted a wide variety of activities, including Notre Dame hockey games and camps, local high school and youth hockey, sled hockey, figure skating, public skating, physical education skating classes, learn-to-skate and learn-to-curl programs, Notre Dame intramural ice hockey and broomball, the Notre Dame women’s club hockey and precision skating teams, commencement ceremonies and has served as a local gathering place.
The Irish hockey program also instituted a new award to honor a player or players who take a “leadership role,” in community service projects that allow the team and players to “give back,” to the community. The new award is named the – The Cameron Compton Leadership in Service Award – named after the Compton’s son, Cameron, a 2010 graduate of the University, who upon graduation made a significant commitment to service as he joined the United States Navy. This award will honor Cameron and his leadership in service to our country.
Johns’s earned the award for his efforts last November in organizing his teammates for the “M is for Movember” effort to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues. During the month of November, Irish players “attempted” to grow mustaches with fans, friends and family having the opportunity to make donations in the name of their favorite player and his mustache. Through these donations and various promotions at Notre Dame hockey games versus North Dakota over Thanksgiving weekend, Johns and his teammates were able to raise $4,400 for this charity event.
Larson teamed up with Defending the Blue Line, an organization that helps kids in military families stay in the game of hockey despite the significant family stresses brought about by additional training and deployment requirements. He helped organized a jersey auction that saw his teammates wear specially designed jerseys to honor Defending the Blue Line the weekend of January 25-26. The jerseys were then auctioned off online at UND.com. The auction along with silent auctions at the games and monetary donations raised over $31,000 that was donated to Defending the Blue Line.
The awards program also recognized the various weekly and monthly CCHA award winners for the Irish and those players who received end-of-the-year honors from the CCHA. It also honored the team’s 2013 Mason Cup championship, the final CCHA playoff title ever.
Also, the five members of the hockey class of 2013 – senior manager John Madison (Saginaw, Mich.), defenseman Sam Calabrese (Park Ridge, Ill.), goaltender Mike Johnson, left wing Nick Larson and right wing Kevin Nugent – were honored as they received their game jerseys from the coaching staff and spoke at the event.