Notre Dame’s Jeff Jackson era began in 2005 when the University searched for a coach who could move the program among the elite hockey schools in the country. The veteran coach owned a resume packed with success at the collegiate, junior hockey, professional and international levels. Throughout his coaching career, Jackson’s teams had been successful both on and off the ice and the hope was that he could deliver those same qualities at Notre Dame.
Jackson’s Notre Dame teams have made 10 trips to the NCAA Championship (2007-09, 2011, 2013-14, 2016-19), advancing to the Frozen Four four times and playing in the 2008 and 2018 national title games.
During his 15-year run, Notre Dame has become one of the nation’s top teams while playing in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, Hockey East and now Big Ten. Under Jackson, the Irish won the CCHA regular-season title twice (2006-07 and 2008-09) while earning three Mason Cup championships (2007, 2009 and the final one in 2013). Then, in the team’s first season in the Big Ten (2017-18), Notre Dame captured both the regular season and conference championships and followed up by once again winning the conference tournament in year two (2018-19).
Jackson’s success on the ice also has had a major impact off the ice for the Irish. With the wins came a commitment from the University that led to the new home of Irish hockey — The Compton Family Ice Arena — one of the finest college hockey facilities in the nation. The venue opened for business on Oct. 21, 2011.
Since Jackson’s arrival, the Irish have had 35 players selected in the National Hockey League Entry Draft (leading into the 2020 NHL Draft), including three first round selections. In that same span, 26 players from USA Hockey’s National Team Developmental Program have matriculated to Notre Dame.
During Jackson’s tenure, the Irish have had eight players garner All-America honors — Bobby Nardella in 2019, Cale Morris in 2018, Anders Bjork in 2017, Robbie Russo in 2015, Anders Lee in 2013, Ian Cole and Erik Condra in 2009 and David Brown in 2007. In addition, 24 of Jackson’s Notre Dame players have gone on to play in the NHL.
Jackson enters the 2020-21 season with a 20-year collegiate record of 516-258-89 for a .649 winning percentage, the third-highest winning percentage among all active coaches with five years or more in Division I (entering 2020-21). His 516 career wins rank tied for 12th all-time in Division I and second among active coaches (entering 2020-21).
AT NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame finished with a 15-15-7 record in 2019-20 in what turned out to be a shortened season due to the CoVID-19 pandemic. Goaltender Cale Morris’ impressive Irish career came to a close. Under the tutelage of Jackson, Morris finished with the program’s top career save percentage (.931). Morris, a three-year starter, also finished with the second-most wins (58) and second-best goals against average (2.18) in program history. Playing for Team USA, sophomores Spencer Stastney and Jake Pivonka became Notre Dame’s 21st and 22nd players to take part in the IIHF World Junior Championship (Czech Republic). Following the shortened NCAA season, 17 Notre Dame players earned Big Ten All-Academic team honors. At the National Hockey League level in 2019-20, a program-best 16 former Irish players appeared in the NHL, each of whom played under Jackson while at Notre Dame.
In 2018-19, the Fighting Irish earned a fourth straight NCAA Tournament berth and made it to NCAA Northeast Regional Final while also winning a second consecutive Big Ten Tournament Championship. It marked the first time in program history the team made it to four consecutive NCAA tournaments and also marked the sixth time in the last seven years and the 11th time in program history the Irish made the NCAA Championship field, including the 10th appearance under Jackson.
With Notre Dame’s New Year’s Eve win over rival Boston College; Jackson became the program’s all-time winningest coach – passing legendary Lefty Smith with his 308th victory behind the Irish bench. The Big Ten Tournament championship game win was the 500th of Jackson’s career, spanning time at both Lake Superior State and Notre Dame.
Senior Bobby Nardella put together an All-America campaign, notching a team-best 34 points on eight goals and 26 assists to become the first defenseman to lead the Irish in scoring. Cale Morris was named the team’s Most Valuable Player for the second straight season and tied his career-high with four shutouts, including a pair in Notre Dame’s sweep of Michigan State in the Big Ten Quarterfinals, while also posting a .930 save percentage. Morris earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors in addition to being named a Mike Richter Award semifinalist. He was also named the Big Ten Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive year after stopping 126 of 129 shots in Notre Dame’s run to a second straight Big Ten Tournament championship.
The 2017-18 season was a remarkable one for the Irish and included a program record 16-game winning streak, capturing both the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships during the inaugural season in the league, advancing to the Frozen Four for the fourth time in school history and to the national title game for the second time.
The 2017-18 season will long be remembered for a string of five consecutive playoff victories which were secured in the final minute of play or overtime, including Cam Morrison’s overtime game winner against Ohio State to secure the Big Ten Tournament Championship; Dylan Malmquist’s goal with 27 seconds left to lift the Irish to the NCAA East Regional Championship; and a trip to the Frozen Four as well as Jake Evans’ NCAA semifinal game winner against Michigan, scored with 5.7 seconds left in regulation.
Cale Morris was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and the team’s Most Improved Player. A Hobey Baker Top-10 Finalist and the Mike Richter Award winner as the nation’s top goaltender, he tied for the NCAA lead with a .944 save percentage and led the country with 27 wins and 1,202 saves. His 1.94 goals against average ranked eighth in the country. He earned First Team (West) All-American honors, while also being named the Big Ten Player of the Year, the Big Ten Goaltender of the Year and the Big Ten Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. He earned eight BIg Ten Player of the Week honors, including five First Stars. In addition, Jake Evans was named a First Team Big Ten selection and earned the Senior CLASS Award, while Jordan Gross also earned First Team All-Big Ten honors.
In 2016-17, Jackson led the Irish to their third Frozen Four appearance in the last 10 years. Jackson’s squad developed throughout the season and then during the second semester closed out the regular season with a 10-4-3 record en route to a top-four finish in the Hockey East standings. The Irish swept 10th-ranked Providence to advance to the Hockey East Championship semifinals and ultimately secure a place in the 2017 NCAA Championship field. It marked Notre Dame’s ninth appearance in the NCAA Championship. At the NCAA Northeast Regional, the Irish defeated No. 1 seed Minnesota, 3-2, and No. 2 seed UMass Lowell in overtime, 3-2, to advance to the Frozen Four.
High-scoring junior forward Anders Bjork posted a career-high 52 points on 21 goals and 31 assists. He was named a Second Team East CCM/AHCA All-American, earned First Team Hockey East All-Star honors and was a finalist for both the Hobey Baker and the Hockey Humanitarian awards. Bjork, junior goaltender Cal Petersen, junior defenseman Jordan Gross and sophomore forward Andrew Oglevie, who scored the overtime winner against the River Hawks, were named to the NCAA Northeast Regional All-Tournament team. Petersen was named a 2017 Hockey East First Team All-Star and was also a Mike Richter Award Finalist.
Jackson led the Irish back to the NCAA Tournament in 2015-16 as Notre Dame went 19-11-7 (15-5-2 HEA). Sophomores Jordan Gross and Anders Bjork were named second team Hockey East All-Stars, while Cal Petersen and Thomas DiPauli earned honorable mention status. During the middle of the season, Notre Dame put together a 12-game unbeaten streak (9-0-3), which marked the fifth-longest unbeaten streak in program history.
In 2014-15, Jackson led a young team to an 18-19-5 record. The team defeated three top-10 teams in February, including eventual national champion Providence and eventual national runner-up Boston University. Benefiting from the stronger second half to the season, Notre Dame finished 10-7-5 in Hockey East games, placing fifth of 12 teams. The Irish lineup in 2014-15 featured 10 NHL draftees, tying for third-most nationally and standing as the top sum in Hockey East.
Russo was rewarded for his stellar 2014-15 season by being named an AHCA Second Team (East) All-American. Russo tied for the national lead among defensemen with 15 goals, while his 41 points ranked second among blueliners. A First Team All-Hockey East selection, Russo led the conference in both goals and points by a defenseman.
Freshman goaltender Cal Petersen turned in a spectacular second half of the season, earning either the league’s player of the week, defensive player of the week or rookie of the week honor for five consecutive weeks between Feb. 9 and March 9. Highlighting that streak was his NCAA Division I record 87-save performance in Notre Dame’s 4-3 quintuple overtime loss to Massachusetts in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. Petersen recorded four shutouts in 2014-15, tying the Notre Dame freshman record and tying for the Hockey East lead. His four shutouts also ranked second in the nation among freshmen.
Both forward Vince Hinostroza and Russo earned first-team all-conference accolades. The coupling of Hinostroza and Russo marked the first time that Notre Dame had two first-team all-conference picks in the same season since 1976-77. Additionally, Petersen earned league recognition as he was named as the goaltender on the Hockey East all-rookie team.
Notre Dame joined the Hockey East Association for the 2013-14 season. In conference play, the Irish were 9-9-2 to finish eighth. Overall the team was 23-15-2 and finished the year ranked 11th in both national polls.
To open the postseason, Notre Dame won the one-game, first-round contest versus Boston University at home to advance to the Hockey East quarterfinals versus top-ranked Boston College. At Conte Forum, the Irish took the best-of-three series, two games to one, winning 7-2 in the opener, dropping a 4-2 decision in game two before winning the deciding game by a 4-2 verdict.
The Irish were the No. 2 seed in the NCAA West Regional in Minneapolis, where the season came to an end for the second consecutive year at the hands of the St. Cloud State Huskies, as the Irish lost a 4-3 overtime thriller.
Jackson and his 2012-13 team closed out the final season of play in the CCHA by finishing second in the regular-season standings before going on to win the final CCHA postseason championship at Joe Louis Arena.
The Irish finished the year with a 25-13-3 overall mark and were 17-8-3-3 in conference play to finish three points behind first-place Miami in the regular season.
Notre Dame defeated Bowling Green, two games to one in the quarterfinals, before downing Ohio State and Michigan by identical 3-1 scores in Detroit. The win over Michigan in the title game marked the third time that Notre Dame had knocked off the Wolverines in a CCHA championship contest and was the fifth win on the year against Michigan.
The Irish would go on to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Midwest Regional in Toledo, Ohio, where they dropped a 5-1 decision to St. Cloud State in the opening game.
The 2012-13 season was a bounce-back year for Notre Dame, as the team experienced a wild roller coaster ride in 2011-12 season, going 19-18-3 for the season while tying for eighth in the CCHA with a 12-13-3 conference mark. The Irish defeated Ohio State in the first round of the playoffs before being ousted in the quarterfinals by Michigan.
In 2010-11 Notre Dame went on a magical run to the Frozen Four. The Irish were 25-14-5 overall while leading the CCHA until the final week of the season. They finished 18-7-3-2 in the conference and finished second to Michigan by two points.
After dropping both games in the CCHA Tournament, the Irish got hot in the NCAA tournament, winning the Northeast Regional with victories over Merrimack (4-3 in overtime) and New Hampshire (2-1) to advance to the Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minnesota. There, Notre Dame fell in the semifinals to eventual NCAA champion Minnesota Duluth with a 4-3 loss.
In 2011, Jackson was selected as the CCHA Coach of the Year for the third time (`90-’91, `06-’07 and `10-’11) and was a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award as the National Coach of the Year.
The Frozen Four run in 2011 erased the memories of a disappointing 2009-10 season for Notre Dame as the Irish struggled, battling injuries and a scoring slump on the way to a 13-17-8 overall record and a 9-12-7-2 mark in the CCHA that put the Irish ninth in the conference. The 2008-09 campaign was a season to remember as Notre Dame won its second conference title and playoff title in three years.
After a 2-3-0 start in 2008-09, it would be three months before the Irish would lose again as they went on a 20-game unbeaten streak (17-0-3), from Oct. 31 to Jan. 17, while being No. 1 in the nation for seven consecutive weeks for the second time in the program’s history.
After seeing the streak stopped, Notre Dame lost just one more time during the 2008-09 regular season. The Irish ended the regular season and the CCHA tournament on a 10-game winning streak.
The Irish advanced to Joe Louis Arena for the third consecutive year by beating Nebraska Omaha in the second round of the playoffs. They then knocked off Northern Michigan, 2-1, in the semifinals and rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Michigan for the CCHA title in a 5-2 victory.
Notre Dame went into the NCAA Tournament as the top seed in the Midwest Regional and was upset in the opening round by Bemidji State, 5-1. The 31 wins were the second-most by a Notre Dame hockey team and the Irish had the lowest goals-against average in the nation (1.71) for the second time in three years.
In 2007-08 the Irish were 27-16-4 and finished fourth in the CCHA with a 15-9-4 mark. They advanced to the CCHA Tournament in Detroit, but lost to Miami in the semifinals and Northern Michigan in the third-place contest.
The last at-large team to make the NCAA tournament, Notre Dame’s offense came to life when it counted. Advancing to the NCAA West Regional, the Irish knocked off New Hampshire, 7-3, in the first game of the weekend and then stopped Michigan State, 3-1, to win the region, becoming the first fourth-seeded team to advance to the NCAA Frozen Four.
At the Frozen Four, Jackson’s squad upset No. 1-ranked Michigan 5-4 in overtime to move to the national championship game versus Boston College. The Eagles ended the magical ride with a 4-1 victory in Denver.
After going 13-19-4 in his first season behind the bench in 2005-06, Jackson’s 2006-07 team got the ball rolling towards Irish hockey success. During that season, Notre Dame set school records for overall wins (32) and CCHA victories (21) on the way to capturing the school’s first-ever CCHA regular-season and tournament championships.
For the first time in the program’s history, the Irish were ranked No. 1 in the nation, holding that lofty perch for seven straight weeks. They made their second appearance in the NCAA championship (first as a No. 1 seed) and won their first tournament game.
For his successful season behind the Irish bench, Jackson was named the CCHA Coach of the Year and the winner of the Spencer Penrose Award as the National Coach of the Year.
Jackson took over the Notre Dame hockey program on May 6, 2005, as the fourth coach since the program’s Division I inception in 1968. For Jackson, it was a return to his roots — coaching at the collegiate level — as he got his start behind the bench at Lake Superior State. He inherited a team that struggled through a difficult 5-27-6 season in 2004-05. The Roseville, Michigan, native and his staff went right to work to change the team’s attitude and perception. They made giant strides on and off the ice in that first season directing the team’s fortunes.
After a slow start (3-9-1), his players began to buy into what the new coach was selling and the Irish finished the year with a 10-10-3 mark over the final 23 games. In CCHA play, the Irish showed a 15-point improvement over 2004-05 — going from 3-20-5 to 11-13-4 — good for eighth place in the league and the final home-ice spot in the CCHA playoffs. Only Miami made a bigger jump in 2005-06 with a 16-point improvement.
In taking over the Irish coaching duties in 2005, Jackson became the first Notre Dame head coach to have won an NCAA Division I championship with another program before being hired as an Irish head coach.
AT LAKE SUPERIOR STATE
Success is nothing new for Jackson at the NCAA Division I level. In six years as the head coach at Lake Superior State (1990-96), Jackson’s teams won two NCAA titles in 1992 and 1994 (also advancing to the finals in 1993), two CCHA regular-season championships (1991 and 1996) and four CCHA Mason Cup trophies (1991, 1992, 1993 and 1995).
Jackson got his start in college hockey as an assistant coach at Lake Superior State in 1986 where he served four years under Frank Anzalone, helping guide the Lakers to one CCHA championship and the 1988 NCAA title.
When Anzalone moved to the pro ranks following the 1989-90 season, Jackson took over as the head coach and in a six-year span (1991-96) guided the Lakers to six consecutive NCAA appearances, including three straight trips to the title game.
In his first season behind the Lakers’ bench, Jackson’s squad was 33-10-3 overall and 26-2-4 in league play, winning the CCHA?regular-season and tournament titles. The Lakers lost in the NCAA?quarterfinals to Clarkson, two games to one.
A year later, Lake Superior State ran off its second 30-plus win season under Jackson, going 30-9-4 on the year, while finishing second in the league with a 20-8-4 mark. The Lakers advanced through the NCAA Tournament to knock off Wisconsin (5-3) in Albany, New York, in the first of three trips to the Frozen Four. The Lakers were 32-8-5 during the 1992-93 season and finished third in the CCHA with a 20-5-5 record. They captured the league’s tournament title by beating Miami 3-0 in the finals at Joe Louis Arena. Lake Superior State defeated Minnesota Duluth in the West Regional to advance to the finals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There the Lakers defeated Boston University in the semifinals before falling to Maine in the finals, 5-4.
Lake Superior State didn’t dwell on the loss to Maine as the Lakers rebounded with a 31-10-4 record and a second-place CCHA?finish in 1993-94. After losing to Michigan in the CCHA title game, Jackson’s team rebounded by winning overtime games versus Northeastern (6-5), Michigan (5-4) and Harvard (3-2) to face Boston University in the title game in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Lakers bounced the Terriers, 9-1, to record their second championship in three years.
Jackson’s Lakers followed their second championship season in 1994-95 with a 23-12-6 record and won their fourth CCHA tournament title. In the NCAA tournament, they lost to Boston University in the Regional final.
In his final season in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Jackson saw the Lakers return to the 30-win plateau, going 30-8-2 overall, winning their second regular-season title with a 22-6-2 mark. Lake Superior State lost to Michigan in the CCHA title game (just the second CCHA championship loss in Jackson’s six years, with a final 24-2 record) and saw the season come to an end with a loss in the East Regionals to Vermont.
During his six years guiding the Lakers, Jackson produced 12 All-Americans (five first team and seven second team), one Academic All-American, and in 1991, he was recognized as the CCHA Coach of the Year. He is just one of 12 coaches to win multiple NCAA championships. From 1993-96, he also served as the director of athletics at Lake Superior State.
Several of Jackson’s Laker players advanced to play in the NHL. The list includes Doug Weight, Brian Rolston, Keith Aldridge, Blaine Lacher, John Grahame, Bates Battaglia and Jim Dowd.
Jackson was inducted into the Lake Superior State University athletics hall of fame on July 23, 2009.
WITH USA HOCKEY
On June 7, 1996, Jackson was named the national coach and senior director of the newly founded U.S. National Team Development program based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
In his first season putting the program in place, he served as the head coach for the United States Junior National Team that captured the silver medal at the 1997 World Junior Championships, at the time the best-ever finish for the U.S. team.
The following year Jackson served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. In his four years directing the national program, eight development program players went on to play at Notre Dame.
IN THE OHL
In 2000, Jackson left the U.S. program and took over as coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Guelph Storm where he turned a losing franchise around, finishing in second place in his first season with a 34-23-9-2 record. In the 2001-02 season the Storm went 37-23-7-1 and hosted the Memorial Cup, advancing to the tiebreaker game where they lost to Victoriaville. In two-and-a-half seasons in Guelph, Jackson had an 87-67-24-4 record.
IN THE NHL
From Guelph, Jackson moved on to the NHL’s New York Islanders, where he served as an assistant coach on Steve Stirling’s staff from 2003-05. In 2003-04, the Islanders finished third in the NHL’s Atlantic Division with a 38-29-11-4 record, good for 91 points.
A 1978 graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in communications, Jackson followed with an education degree from Michigan State in 1979.
In May 2003, Inside College Hockey, ranked Jackson 12th on its list of the 16 greatest college coaches of all time.
Jackson is a member of the USA Hockey Coaches Achievement Program, the American Hockey Coaches Association and the National Hockey League Coaches Association.