NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The National Hockey League opens the 2018-19 season tonight (Oct. 3) and the University of Notre Dame boasts eight former players on seven NHL teams to kick off the 101st year of play in the league.
Former Fighting Irish hockey players set to skate in the NHL this week include Anders Bjork (Boston Bruins), Ian Cole (Colorado Avalanche), Vinnie Hinostroza (Arizona Coyotes), Stephen Johns (Dallas Stars), Anders Lee (New York Islanders), Kyle Palmieri (New Jersey Devils), Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Riley Sheahan (Pittsburgh Penguins).
Lee was one of eight NHLers to hit the 40-goal mark last year as he recorded a career-high 62 points (40G, 22A) while skating in all 82 games for the Islanders. After the season, the Edina, Minnesota, native helped the U.S. Men’s National Team earn a bronze medal at the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship in Copenhagen and Herning, Denmark. He netted four goals in 10 games for Team USA while skating on his third U.S. Men’s National Team.
Palmieri scored 24 goals and collected 20 assists to help the Devils achieve one of the best one-year turnarounds in recent history and return to the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Palmieri, one of three Notre Dame hockey players to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft, finished second on the Devils behind Taylor Hall with 11 power-play goals and five game-winning markers.
Rust, a two-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, looks to build off of a career year in 2017-18 in which he recorded career-highs in goals (13) and assists (25). His former teammate in Pittsburgh, Cole, is set to begin his tenure in Colorado after signing a three-year deal with the Avalanche in the offseason. Cole helped Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup alongside Rust in 2016 and 2017.
While Cole moved out west, Sheahan signed a one-year deal to remain with Rust and the Penguins. After being traded from Detroit to The Steel City last October, Sheahan went on to score 11 goals and dish out 21 assists in 73 games for the Penguins in what was his seventh NHL season.
Johns posted a career-best 15 points (7G, 8A) in 75 games for the Stars last season while Hinostroza also had a career year with seven goals and 18 assists in 50 games for the Blackhawks. The latter is set to begin his fourth NHL season but first in Arizona after being traded from the Blackhawks to the Coyotes in July.
Bjork will skate in his second professional season after notching four goals and eight assists in his rookie year with the Bruins.
In total, 32 former Irish players have seen ice time in the NHL, 18 of whom played at Notre Dame under current head coach Jeff Jackson.
Coming off back-to-back Frozen Four runs, including an appearance in the 2018 national title game, the Irish open the 2018-19 season with a home exhibition contest versus the USNTDP at 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 7. Notre Dame then heads to Erie, Pennsylvania for the 2018 Ice Breaker Tournament (Oct. 12-13).
After sweeping both the conference regular season and tournament titles in 2017-18, the Irish will embark on year two in the Big Ten in 2018-19. Notre Dame’s league slate begins with a 7:30 p.m. home game against Ohio State on Nov. 2. For tickets please contact the Murnane Family Ticket Office by calling 833-ND-IRISH or click here.
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