May 5, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame hockey team has added two more skaters to an already strong 2015 recruiting class with the additions of Dennis Gilbert (Williamsville, New York) and Jack Jenkins (Lake Bluff, Illinois).
Gilbert, a 6- 2, 195-pound defenseman, is the 58th-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting rankings of draft prospects. He had four goals and 23 assists for 27 points this past winter in 57 games played for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League. His 27 points ranked 14th among defensemen this past season in a league filled with the nation’s top college and professional prospects.
“Dennis is a rangy defenseman and great skater who really started to blossom the last couple of years,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. “We’re excited by him. Dennis has great potential and good size. He’s a guy that will be great for our transitional game because he likes to jump into the play but can also become a great defender with his skating ability and size.”
Dennis was a three-sport star at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Tonawanda, New York, just north of Buffalo. He earned first-team All-Western New York honors as a long stick midfielder in lacrosse for St. Joe’s while also quarterbacking a Maurauder football team for which his father, also named Dennis, has served a coach since 1986. Gilbert began to concentrate on hockey in 2013-14 when he joined the Buffalo Junior Sabres of the Ontario Junior Hockey League before moving onto the Steel for its 2014-15 campaign.
Jenkins, a 5-10, 182-pound forward, split time this year between the expansion Bloomington (Ill.) Thunder and Fargo Force, both of the USHL. He notched 14 goals and 21 assists between the franchises for 35 points. Jenkins had played both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons in the USHL with the Des Moines Buccaneers, amassing 13 goals and 36 assists for 49 points.
“Jack will add speed and skill to our lineup,” Jackson said. “He’s played a lot of junior hockey so his maturity will be welcomed. He has played in all situations and has a strong work ethic. Jack is regarded as a leader with strong character.”
Gilbert and Jenkins join previous members of Notre Dame’s 2014-15 signing class in having productive seasons this past winter.
Checking into the NHL Central Scouting ranking ahead of Gilbert at number 37 is Christian Fischer of the USA Under-18 Team. That lofty ranking places him sixth among USHL prospects. Fischer skated in 25 games for Team USA this past year, scoring 15 goals and adding 15 more assists for 30 points with a plus-16 rating.
Dylan Malmquist took the prep route and it paid off for the Edina (Minn.) High School star. Malmquist was named as a finalist for the Mr. Hockey award in Minnesota and received the state player of the year prize bestowed by the Associated Press. Malmquist is the all-time leading scorer for the perennial state power, this past season netting 28 goals and adding 44 assists for 72 points in 28 games played. Malmquist follows in the footsteps of 2014-15 Irish team captain Steven Fogarty who was also a Mr. Hockey finalist for Edina in 2011.
Bobby Nardella was the third-leading scorer among USHL defensemen in 2014-15 with his 42 points, accumulated through 10 goals and 32 assists for the Tri-City Storm. Nardella led the Storm in assists and tied for third on his team in points. His Storm teammate and fellow Irish signee, Tory Dello picked up 17 points on a pair of goals and 15 assists. Dello represented the west division of the USHL in the league’s annual top prospects showcase game.
In a possible sign of things to come for Notre Dame, not only did Gilbert skate for the east team in that Top Prospects Game on Jan. 13, but he also assisted on a goal scored by fellow Notre Dame signee Cal Burke of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
Burke had 20 goals and 20 assists for Cedar Rapids to accompany a plus-21 rating. Burke ranked fourth on the team with his 40 points, but was just second among Irish signees with the RoughRiders.
Andrew Oglevie led Cedar Rapids with 32 assists, ranked second with 53 points and stood third on his squad with 21 goals in 2014-15. Oglevie tied for 16th in the league with those 53 points (tallied in 50 games played) and 17th with his 32 assists. He also recorded a plus-20 rating.
Joe Wegwerth finished his 2014-15 season with Cedar Rapids after a mid-season trade from the Green Bay Gamblers. A fourth-round pick of the Florida Panthers in the 2014 NHL Draft, Wegwerth combined to collect 30 points in 59 games played for the two teams this past winter.
Coach Jackson is pleased with what this collective group will add to a Notre Dame team which continued to develop as the 2014-15 season progressed, defeating three top 10 teams in the month of February – including both teams which played for the 2105 national championship (Providence and Boston University).
“It gives us more depth both a forward and defense,” Jackson said as he prepares to enter his 11th year behind the Irish bench. “With Gilbert and Nardella in particular it improves on our overall offensive abilities and what we have in terms of transitional abilities on back end. The forward group is gaining more depth as well.”