April 18, 2010
Notre Dame, Ind. – The Notre Dame hockey program announced its individual awards for the 2009-10 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 2010.
Leading the list of honorees was junior left wing Calle Ridderwall (Stockholm, Sweden) who was chosen as the Notre Dame Monogram Club’s team Most Valuable Player and the team’s Offensive Player of the Year. Ridderwall led the Irish in scoring during the 2009-10 season, scoring 19 goals with eight assists for 27 points. Included among his 19 goals were 11 power-play tallies that led the team and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA). During the year, Ridderwall notched a pair of hat tricks – getting three goals versus Bowling Green on Nov. 28 and at Lake Superior State on Jan. 22 – to become the first Notre Dame player to get two hat tricks in a season since 1987-88. The winner of Notre Dame’s most improved player award in 2009, Ridderwall has scored 36 goals and 23 assists for 59 points over the last two seasons with 22 power-play goals to his credit. He has moved into 10th on the all-time power-play list with one more season left. Ridderwall becomes the first forward to win the team’s Most Valuable Player Award since Aaron Gill `04 did it following the 2003-04 season. Since then, goaltenders – Morgan Cey `05, David Brown `07 and Jordan Pearce `09 – have dominated the award over the last five years.
Senior Kevin Deeth was winner of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph’s Valley’s Rockne Student-Athlete Award.
Senior alternate captain Kevin Deeth (Gig Harbor, Wash.) 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 four-time monogram winner at Notre Dame, Deeth has a 3.568 grade-point average in Marketing. In March he was selected as Notre Dame’s representative to the CCHA’s Scholar-Athlete team. On the ice, Deeth became the all-time “Iron Man,” for the Irish as he played in more games (164) than any player in the program’s history. He also finished tied for 35th on the all-time points list with 114 points on 35 goals and 79 assists. Deeth also was involved in the community service efforts of the team. This year the Irish were among the top three teams at Notre Dame in community service hours. They were involved with the South Bend School District’s “Dream Team” where players served as mentors at local elementary schools. The biggest community service program came the weekend of Jan. 29-30, when the Irish “Gave The Shirts Off Their Backs,” via an online auction that raised money for the Wounded Warriors Project. The special jersey auction raised $16,604.60 and with several benefactors providing matching gifts, the event finished with $41,604.60. For his efforts in the community, Deeth was a nominee for college hockey’s Humanitarian Award that goes to the game’s “top citizen.” He also was a finalist for the CCHA’s Mike and Marian Ilitch Humanitarian Award.
The Notre Dame rookie of the year award was presented to freshman goaltender Mike Johnson (Verona, Wis.) who was chosen in voting done by his teammates. The 5-10, 194-pound netminder was selected to the CCHA all-rookie team and captured the team’s Perani Cup three stars award. In his rookie season, Johnson played in 29 games, making 28 starts, including the final 14 of the season. He was 10-13-5 overall with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage with a pair of shutouts. In October, he became the second Irish freshman goaltender to record a shutout in his first career start as he blanked Providence, 2-0, making 29 saves in the game. Johnson’s goals against and save percentage were tops among freshmen in the CCHA (ninth overall) and was fourth among freshmen on the national level.
Senior defenseman Kyle Lawson was named the winner of the William Donald Nyrop Award as Notre Dame’s top defenseman for the second year in a row.
Senior defenseman Kyle Lawson (New Hudson, Mich.) claimed his second 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. He returned to the NHL for one season in 1981 with Minnesota. He returned to hockey in 1992 as general manager of the Knoxville Chiefs in the East Coast Hockey League and later founded a team in West Palm Beach, Fla., in the Sunshine Hockey League. Nyrop died from cancer on Dec. 31, 1995.
Lawson, an alternate captain as a senior, finished third in scoring on the team with four goals and 18 assists for 22 points with three power-play goals, one short-handed tally and two game winners to his credit. One of the top defensemen in the CCHA and the nation, he finished his Notre Dame career ranked eighth among defensemen in scoring. Overall, he played in 161 games, scoring 17 goals with 73 assists for 90 career points and was +41 over four seasons. Lawson signed with the Carolina Hurricanes following the season and is currently playing for Carolina’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Albany River Rats, in the AHL playoffs.
Senior defenseman Brett Blatchford (Temperance, Mich.) 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 – 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.
Blatchford developed into a top-four defenseman during his four seasons at Notre Dame, becoming the quarterback of the Irish power play. He played in 153 games during his career, scoring six goals with 67 assists for 73 points. As a senior, he had a career-high four goals with 15 assists for 19 points. That tied him for second among Irish defensemen in scoring this season. He signed an amateur tryout contract following the season with the East Coast League’s Idaho Steelheads and is currently playing in the ECHL playoffs.
The winner of the team’s Most Improved Player Award went to sophomore left wing Rich Ryan (Toronto, Ont.). A hard-working player, Ryan worked his way into the lineup in the second half of the season, playing in 18 games. His lone goal came in the CCHA playoffs at Ohio State. He played in just three games as a freshman and continues to develop after being a standout with the St. Michael’s Buzzers in the OPJHL.
The Irish also honored former standout player and coach, Dave Poulin `82, with their Distinguished Alumni Award. Currently the Vice-President of Hockey Operations with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Poulin joins past winners – Dave Bossy `77, Paul Regan `73, Brian Walsh `77, Phil Wittliff ’71, Greg Meredith `80, Bob McNamara `83 and Andy Slaggert `89.
Poulin is a 1982 graduate of the program and a four-time monogram winner under Lefty Smith. He finished his Irish career with 89 goals and 107 assists for 196 career points to rank sixth on the all-time scoring list. He ranks among the all-time leaders in goals, assists, points, power-play goals and game winners for his career. A native of Timmins, Ont., he was undrafted coming out of college and played a year in Sweden before signing on with the Philadelphia Flyers at the end of the 1982-83 seasons. He went on to play 12 seasons in the National Hockey League with the Flyers, the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals, before retiring following the 1994-95 season. A three-time NHL all-star, he played 724 games with 205 goals and 325 assists for 530 career points. Along the way, he was the winner of the NHL’s Frank Selke Award as the top defensive forward in 1987 and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership on and off the ice in 1993. His retirement didn’t last long as soon after he was named the head coach at his alma mater, taking over the reins for the 1995-96 season. Over 10 seasons, he helped turn the program in the right direction. His teams advanced to Joe Louis Arena and the CCHA Super Six four times in his tenure capped by the 2003-04 season when the Irish advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program’s history. Following the 2004-05 season, he stepped down as coach of the Irish and began working in development in the athletic department. In 2007, he moved into private business as managing director and partner with Reilly Partners, a Chicago-based executive search firm. On July 23, 2009, he was named the Vice-President of hockey operations for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Two Honorary Alumni Awards were presented this season with one going to team physician and orthopedic specialist Dr. Robert Clemency and one to Academic Advisor Adam Sargent. Clemency has worked with student-athletes at Notre Dame since 1993 and is one of the top orthopedic specialists in Michiana. Sargent has served as hockey’s academic advisor for the past six years and the Irish have ranked consistently among the top athletic program’s each year with Sargent’s guidance. Both men received a personalized team jersey to commemorate the honor.
The awards program also recognized the various weekly award winners for the Irish and those players who received end-of-the-year honors from the CCHA. Also, the seven members of the hockey class of 2010 – Brett Blatchford, Kevin Deeth, Dan Kissel (Crestwood, Ill.), Kyle Lawson, Christiaan Minella (Aurora, Colo.), Tom O’Brien (Mokena, Ill.) and Ryan Thang (Edina, Minn.) – were honored and with Deeth, Minella and O’Brien speaking at the event. Blatchford (Idaho in the ECHL), Kissel (Bakersfield in the ECHL), Lawson (Albany in the AHL) and Thang (Milwaukee in the AHL) are all playing professionally.