April 12, 2016
By Dan Colleran
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs open on Wednesday, April 13 and six former University of Notre Dame hockey players could find themselves in the thick of the championship chase with their respective NHL teams, including Stephen Johns (Dallas), Erik Condra (Tampa Bay), Riley Sheahan (Detroit), Anders Lee (New York Islanders), Ian Cole (Pittsburgh) and Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh).
In addition, as the Senior Vice President/General Manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, Notre Dame alum Stan Bowman will be part of Chicago’s bid for back-to-back Stanley Cups (Bowman has been part of Stanley Cup championships with the Blackhawks in 2011, 2013 and 2015).
- Bowman and the Blackhawks are the No. 3 seed out of the Central Division and will take on St. Louis, which finished second in the Central.
- Johns made his NHL debut on March 11 against Chicago to become the 28th former Notre Dame player to reach the NHL and the 14th that has played under Head Coach Jeff Jackson. Dallas won the Central Division and is the top seed in the Western Conference. In the first round, the Stars will play the Minnesota Wild (second wildcard in the West).
- Johns played in 14 games down the stretch for Dallas, totaling a goal and two assists to go along with six penalty minutes. He signed a two-year contract extension with the Stars on March 19.
- Sheahan and the Detroit Red Wings (No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division) will take on Condra and the Lightning (No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division), beginning with Wednesday night’s Game One at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Florida. It will be the first 2016 Stanley Cup playoff game to get underway (7:00 p.m. on NBCSN).
- Sheahan has played 81 games this season, totaling 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points. In his third season of playing at least 42 games at the NHL level, Sheahan’s 14 goals represent a career-high total.
- In his first season with the Lightning, Condra has skated in 54 games while scoring six goals and adding five assists for 11 assists. He notched three goals and added two assists over the final nine games of the regular season, including a two-goal performance against Detroit on March 22.
- Lee, who has 36 points this season with the New York Islanders on 15 goals and 21 assists, is sidelined indefinitely with an injury sustained after being hit by a shot on April 7. He now has 50 career NHL goals in 180 games (played over the last two-plus seasons). The Islanders (first wild card in the East) will play the Florida Panthers (top seed from the Atlantic) in the first round of the playoffs.
- Cole, Rust and the Pittsburgh Penguins (No. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division) will play a familiar playoff foe in the New York Rangers (No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan Division) in a series that also begins on Wednesday night. The two teams will be meeting in the playoffs for a third consecutive season.
- Cole played in 70 games this season while recording 12 assists to go along with 59 penalty minutes. In seven career Stanley Cup playoff games (two with St. Louis and five with Pittsburgh), he has two assists.
- Rust, who was named the Penguins’ Rookie of the Year, scored four goals and added seven assists for 11 points in 41 games. He looks poised to make his Stanley Cup playoff debut.
- The most recent Notre Dame skater to claim the Stanley Cup as a player was Mark Eaton, a member of the 2009 champion Penguins.
- All told, eight former Notre Dame players saw action in the NHL this season, with Vince Hinostroza (Chicago) and Kyle Palmieri (New Jersey) joining Cole, Condra, Johns, Lee, Rust and Sheahan.
- Hinostroza remains with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL), who have three regular-season games remaining before beginning the Calder Cup playoffs.
— 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).