May 12, 2016
By Dan Colleran
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Three former Notre Dame hockey players remain in contention to lift the Stanley Cup as Erik Condra and the Tampa Bay Lighting will meet Ian Cole, Bryan Rust and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2016 Eastern Conference Final.
Both teams were No. 2 seeds when the playoffs started, but by virtue of a better regular-season record the Penguins will have home ice advantage in the series and play host to games one and two.
The series will open at 8:00 p.m. at Pittsburgh’s CONSOL Energy Center on Friday, May 13 (NBCSN).
- Condra and the Lightning defeated Riley Sheahan and the Detroit Red Wings, four games to one, to advance to a second round series against the New York Islanders, which Tampa Bay also won four games to one.
- Condra, who is in the midst of his sixth NHL season but first with Tampa Bay, played in two games during the first round series win over Detroit.
- Condra then played in one game against the Islanders before sustaining an injury, but he returned to full practice participation before the end of the second round and is expected to be available for the conference final.
- Cole and Rust helped the Pittsburgh Penguins skate past the New York Rangers, four games to one, to advance to a second round series against the Washington Capitals.
- Rust provided the game five heroics against the Rangers by scoring two goals and adding an assist in the 6-3 victory (April 23), becoming the first rookie in Pittsburgh history to post three points in a playoff game (it was the first career multi-goal game for Rust, who had five multi-goal games at Notre Dame).
- In the second round, the Penguins ousted top-seeded Washington in an entertaining series, four games to two.
- Rust missed game one against the Rangers but battled back from injury to play in 10 of Pittsburgh’s 11 playoff games, totaling two goals and an assist for three points as well as a +4 rating.
- Cole has patrolled the blue line for all 11 of Pittsburgh’s playoff games, totaling an assist to go along with a +5 rating and eight penalty minutes. He’s averaged 16:21 of ice time per game during the 2015-16 playoffs.
- The most recent former Notre Dame skater to claim the Stanley Cup as a player was Mark Eaton, a member of the 2009 champion Penguins.
- In addition, as the Senior Vice President/General Manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, Notre Dame alum Stan Bowman has been part of Stanley Cup championships with the Blackhawks in 2011, 2013 and 2015.
- Former Irish skaters Stephen Johns (Dallas Stars, second round) and Riley Sheahan (Detroit Red Wings, first round) also appeared in the 2016 NHL Playoffs, while Anders Lee (New York Islanders, second round) was injured just prior to the start of the playoffs.
- Johns made his NHL debut on March 11 to become the 28th former Notre Dame player to reach the NHL and the 14th that has played under Head Coach Jeff Jackson.
- All told, eight former Notre Dame players saw action during the 2015-16 NHL season, with Vince Hinostroza (Chicago) and Kyle Palmieri (New Jersey) joining Cole, Condra, Johns, Lee, Rust and Sheahan.
— ND —
Dan Colleran, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been a part of Fighting Irish Media since August 2015 and coordinates all media and publicity efforts surrounding the Notre Dame hockey and men’s golf programs. A native of Walpole, Massachusetts, Colleran spent the previous three years working with the men’s hockey and soccer programs at Providence College. Colleran also spent two years as an Assistant Executive Director of Communications & Championships at the Ivy League and is a graduate of Providence College (’06 & ’08G).