April 19, 1999
Player Pos. Birthdate Ht. Wt. Shoots Hometown 1998-99 team Connor Dunlop C 1/5/81 5-10 185 L St. Louis, MO U.S. National Under-18 Team Paul Harris D 3/23/81 6-2 195 R Ridgefield, CT U.S. National Under-18 Team John Wroblewski F 5/26/81 6-1 200 R Neenah, WI US. National Under-18 Team Tony Zasowski G 10/12/78 5-11 190 Darien, IL Omaha (NE) Lancers (USHL)
Michael Chin RW 9/24/80 6-2 200 R Urbana, IL Des Moines (IA) Buccaneers (USHL) Evan Nielsen D 5/28/81 6-2 195 R Evanston, IL The Taft School (CT)
The University of Notre Dame hockey team has signed four players-including three members of the United States National Development Program-to national letters of intent during the spring signing period, head coach Dave Poulin announced today.
The signees include forwards Connor Dunlop (St. Louis, Mo.) and John Wroblewski (Neenah, Wis.), defenseman Paul Harris (Ridgefield, Conn.) and goaltender Tony Zasowski (Darien, Ill.). Zasowski is wrapping up a successful season with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League while the other signees have completed play with the U.S. Under-18 Team.
The foursome joins Notre Dame’s pair of fall signees-right wing Michael Chin (Urbana, Ill./Des Moines Buccaneers) and defenseman Evan Nielsen (Evanston, Ill./The Taft School, Conn.)-to form one of the nation’s top incoming classes. Five of the newcomers spent the past season playing in the rugged USHL (the U.S. Under-18 team competes in the USHL but is not eligible for post season play or league awards).
“These six players complete a string of four straight classes that have added tremendous talent to our program. We have some pretty serious holes to fill due to graduation, and the newcomers should be up the challenge of adjusting to Division I hockey,” said Poulin, who will be entering his fifth season behind the Irish bench after guiding the 1998-99 team to a 19-14-5 overall mark, a fourth-place finish in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and a near-spot in the NCAA tournament.
“At the same time, even though the incoming players have experienced success at a high level, they alone will not be responsible for replacing our graduating players. Firstly, we anticipate that all of our returning players will elevate their games. The play of the newcomers also will play an important role in our continuing goal of progressing as a program.”
Notre Dame is set to lose six seniors from the 1998-99 squad, including four regular members of the starting lineup. Those players include team captain and right wing Brian Urick (57 goals, 69 assists in 146 career games), left wing Aniket Dhadphale (61 goals, 44 assists, 25 power-play goals in 143 career games), All-America defenseman Benoit Cotnoir (28 goals, 60 assists in 141 career games) and goaltender Forrest Karr (27-25-6 career record, in addition to setting Irish career records with a 2.92 goals-against average and .888 save percentage).
Urick, Dhadphale and Cotnoir combined for 319 career points (146 goals, 173 assists) in 430 combined games. The other Irish losses to graduation include center Craig Hagkull (7 goals, 12 assists in 104 career games) and defenseman Scott Giuliani (2 assists in 19 career games).
Dunlop – who helped the U.S. team play second in the USHL eastern division – could provide tremendous depth for Notre Dame contingent of centers, which includes seniors-to-be Ben Simon and Troy Bagne and sophomores-to-be David Inman and Brett Henning. Known as a clever playmaker, the 5-10, 185-pound, Dunlop totaled 46 goals and 56 assists in 136 games with the U.S. Developmental Program during the past two seasons, including 23 goals and 42 assists over 70 games in 1998-99. His father Blake Dunlop played 11 years in the National Hockey League with the Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings.
Wroblewski, at 6-1 and 200 pounds, will bring his power-forward style of play to the Irish program and could play any forward position. As a winger with the U.S. program, he totaled 32 goals and 25 assists in 135 games over the past two seasons, including 19 goals and seven assists in 75 games during 1998-99. A hard worker and tough competitor, he led the U.S. with 11 power-play goals in 1998-99.
“Connor, John-and Michael Chin-all have the ability to make a major impact as freshmen,” said Poulin. “Connor has great all-around ability and is a tremendous competitor and dynamic playmaker-he could end up playing in all situations. John has great hands and reach-combined a fiery competitiveness and a strong work ethic-and will give us a great power forward who can play on eight wing.”
Harris is a classic stay-at-home defenseman who will join an Irish team that returns seven of the top-eight players from a 1998-99 defense that set the Irish record for team goals-against average (2.60). A late bloomer who didn’t begin playing hockey until he was nearly 10 years old, the 6-2, 195-pound Harris registered four goals and nine assists in two seasons with the U.S. program while helping anchor one of the USHL’s top penalty-killing units (88.2 percent).
Zasowksi – a stand-up goalie known for his competitveness and willingness to challenge shooters – is expected to challenge Kimento and junior-to-be Kyle Kolquist for time between the pipes, after being named a first-team USHL all-star. The 5-11, 190-pound Zasowski currently is playing in the USHL’s championship series, the Clark Cup, and ironically is facing shots from one of his future Irish teammates-Chin-who plays for the rival Des Moines Buccaneers (Des Moines holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series). Zasowski set a USHL record in 1998-99 for victories (35-11) and tied a league record with five shutouts, in addition to a league-best 1.96 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage that earned him goaltender-of-the-year honors from the USHL. His three shutouts in 1998-99 include a 2-0 victory in the first game of the Clark Cup finals. Zasowksi also is known for excellent ability in handling the puck, an evidenced by his eight assists during the 1998-99 season.
“Paul will add good size and competitiveness to the blue line and has a great knowledge of the game. He has made huge strides with the U.S. program and excels at so many of the subtle things that make a good defenseman,” said Poulin. “Tony really came on this season in a very challenging league. He has a lot of experience under his belt and should be ready for the challenge.”
Chin-who was a member of the U.S. Developmental Program in 1997-98-finished tied for 12th in the USHL regular-season scoring charts, with 54 points (26 goals, 28 assists) in 47 games while helping Des Moines post a 48-7-1 record. He has one goal and four assists during the postseason, as the Bucs have gone 8-3 and are two wins away from winning the Clark Cup title. Chin has been part of a dynamic Des Moines squad that has set team record for wins (48), consecutive wins (19) and home record (30-2) while totaling 304 goals (tops in the USHL, 70 ahead of the nest team, Omaha).
Nielsen totaled five goals and 12 assists from the blue line in 1998-99 while earning the Coaches Award, after helping Taft post a 15-8 record that left them just shy of a spot in the eight-team New England Championship. In late March, Nielsen participated in the annual Hockey Night in Boston All-Scholastic Tournament, where he was named the Midwest team MVP.
Note: Further capsule information on each of the six signees will be released on April 20 (will be faxed and posted on www.und.com).