Jan. 7, 2002
By Tim Connor
The expectations have followed Notre Dame’s David Inman since his days in junior hockey. He has all the tools – size, speed, great hands, outstanding hockey instincts and great offensive numbers.
Those expectations grew following his freshman year at Notre Dame. After a season that saw him named to the CCHA all-rookie team, the New York Rangers selected Inman in the second round of the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft.
Not that he didn’t have good seasons for Notre Dame in his first three years, but hockey observers always seemed to want more from the 21-year old left wing.
If his first half numbers this year are any indication, then David Inman is meeting those expectations.
“When you get drafted, there are always expectations, but I also had them for myself. You feel the pressure to have a great game every night,” says Inman.
Irish head coach Dave Poulin has been around long enough to understand what a highly rated player has to deal with.
“There is always that pressure when a player is selected that high. You get it in your mind that you have to prove to others why you were selected instead of just playing the game. That’s human nature. I think the pressure is there until you feel comfortable with the ranking,” says Poulin.
Inman seems to have found that comfort level this season. After scoring twice in Notre Dame’s 3-3 tie with Michigan on Jan. 4, Inman led the Irish with 11 goals and is third in assists (10) and second with points (21). The 21 points is a career best for the former Wexford Raider standout. His five power play goals is tops on the team and tie him for third in the CCHA. He has already passed his totals of last season when he had 11 goals and six assists for 17 points.
“This season has definitely been my best,” says Inman with a smile.
“My first three years were okay, but some injuries (mononucleosis as a sophomore and a concussion as a junior) got in the way. I had some success, but it’s good to be hitting my stride right now. The team’s doing great, so I’m happy about that.”
Irish head coach Dave Poulin has been pleased with his senior forwards’ hard work this season.
“David is giving it to us every night. He’s always shown flashes of what he could do, but now he’s doing it every game for us,” says Poulin.
“The sign of a talented player is having the ability to make others around you better and David has done that. He’s really put his entire game together. He’s been a big boost to the team this year.”
Inman got off to a fast start scoring points in his first three games before turning in a career-best four-point effort on Nov. 2 in Notre Dame’s 5-4 win over eighth-ranked Northern Michigan at Marquette, Mich.
The Toronto, Ont., native scored just 32 seconds into the game, then set up goals by defensemen Brett Lebda and Derek Smith. He capped the night by getting his second goal of the night, the game-winner midway through the third period when he combined with Connor Dunlop for a highlight reel goal.
“The game at Northern Michigan is the best game I’ve played here. Taking down a top-ranked team on their home ice, that was a great win for us,” says Inman.
Dunlop, who leads the Irish in scoring with 24 points, also had four assists in that game. He and Inman carried the Irish offense through the early part of the season.
“Connor and I work well together and we still play on the power play. He’s a great player who knows how to find me when I’m out there. It’s exciting to play with a player as offensively talented as he is,” explained the finance major and Academic All-American candidate.
The duo was split up at the beginning of December when Poulin teamed Inman with sophomore Rob Globke and junior Michael Chin.
The results have been impressive. The Irish were 3-1-0 over the four games with the trio racking up seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points.
“Putting David with Globke and Chin game us a big, quick line that I thought would be tough to stop,” says Poulin.
One area of Inman’s game that has always been a strong point has been his work on the power play. He owns 19 power play goals for his career and needs just three more to break into the top 10 all-time at Notre Dame.
The talented forward gives Poulin several options on the power play. Inman doesn’t have a favorite spot when the Irish have the man-advantage since he’s played them all.
“We have set positions on the power play, but we move around a lot. I try to shoot any chance I get. On the power play, any shots a good shot. If you can cause a rebound that’s great, if you can score that’s better,” says Inman.
In the classroom, Inman has never had a problem living up to his expectations. A Finance major in the Mendoza College of Business, Inman has accumulated a 3.52 grade point average.
“It’s been a matter of time management for the most part,” says Inman of his academic success.
“Early on I learned good study habits. I live with guys who aren’t on the team and they’ve helped me as far as academics go. I just try to manage my time. Finding time to do work is not always easy but I get it done.
After a 0-4-2 start in October, the Irish have played some of their best hockey since the 1999-2000 season, going 7-4-3 over the last 14 games. Inman and his teammates expect more of the same in the second half of the year.
“Early in the season, we didn’t know what it took to win. The bad start was a real wake up call,” says Inman.
“This team is one of the strongest groups – character-wise – that I’ve ever been a part of. It’s fun to come to the rink, it’s fun to play. The team has really come around in the last month. It’s exciting to be part of it.”
Just like Inman, it looks like the Fighting Irish are living up to expectations too.