Notre Dame's hockey team will have a freshman class of eight for the 2006-07 season.

Irish Add Four Players To Incoming Class For 2006-07 Season

June 2, 2006

Notre Dame, Ind. – University of Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson announced today that four more players would join the Irish hockey roster in September for the start of the 2006-07 season, giving him eight players in the freshman class. Joining the Irish roster this fall are goaltender Tom O’Brien (Mokena, Ill.), defensemen Brett Blatchford (Temperance, Mich.) and Stewart Carlin (Jeannette, Pa.) along with forward Dan Kissel (Streamwood, Ill.).

The four newcomers will join four others who signed national letters-of-intent in the fall of 2004 and the fall of 2005 – Kevin Deeth (Gig Harbor, Wash.), Kyle Lawson (New Hudson, Mich.), Christiaan Minella (Aurora, Colo.) and Ryan Thang (Edina, Minn.).

In making the announcement, Jackson, who will begin his second season behind the Notre Dame bench said, “Tom O’Brien, Brett Blatchford, Stewart Carlin and Dan Kissel are strong additions to the players that we signed in the early-signing period and give us a strong class for next season. I expect this to be a competitive group that will bring a strong work ethic and outstanding character to this team. They bring a high level of skill and leadership to Notre Dame and should make a significant contribution to our future success.”

Tom O’Brien is a 6-0, 187-pound goaltender who played last season in the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL) with the Bridgewater Bandits where he helped that team to a third-place finish in the Southern Division. For the year, O’Brien was 13-8-2 overall with a 2.93 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. He was seventh in the league in goals-against average, sixth in wins and third in save percentage in his first year in the EJHL. In 2004-05, O’Brien played in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) for the Youngstown/Mahoning Valley Phantoms, seeing action in 18 games with a 7-7-1 record to go with a 3.35 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage. The Phantoms were 27-25-2 on the year. While with the Phantoms, O’Brien was the winner of the NAHL’s Academic Achievement Award. The Illinois native played his midget hockey for the Chicago Young Americans. He will battle sophomore Jordan Pearce for playing time behind senior David Brown in the Notre Dame goal.

Jackson on O’Brien: “Tom O’Brien joins David Brown and Jordan Pearce to give us a strong trio in goal. He’s an experienced goaltender who has had a strong junior career and continues to improve his all-around game. He’s technically sound and has excellent instincts in goal.”

Brett Blatchford is a 5-11, 177-pound left-handed shooting playmaking defenseman who has played three seasons for the NAHL’s Texas Tornado. This past season, Blatchford, who verbally committed to the Irish on Aug. 10, 2005, led all North American Hockey League defensemen in scoring with three goals and 46 assists for 49 points in 54 games. His 46 assists were third best in the NAHL where Texas finished the 2005-06 season in first place with a 42-12-4 record. In 13 postseason games, Blatchford added two goals and five assists. During his three seasons in Texas, the Tornado won three consecutive Robertson Cup titles as the top Junior A team in the country. Following the season, he was named first team all-NAHL and received the NAHL Academic Achievement Award. In 2004-05, he had four goals and 21 assists for 25 points in 56 games and then added three goals and eight assists in 12 playoff games. He set up the game-winning goal in the national championship game and then scored a power-play insurance goal. A mobile defenseman, Blatchford reads the play well and makes good decisions with the puck.

Jackson on Blatchford: “Brett Blatchford is a strong, veteran defenseman who has helped lead Texas to three consecutive league championships (North American Hockey League) and is getting ready to play in the junior national tournament. He plays in all situations for Texas and has excellent offensive skills. He’s a playmaking defenseman who sees the ice well and has a knack for finding the open man. He’s a leader and should be a strong addition to our blue line.”

Stewart Carlin is a 6-0, 175-pound, right-handed shooting defenseman who is a three-year veteran of the United States Hockey League (USHL), playing two years with the Sioux Falls Stampede and last year with the Chicago Steel. With the Steel in `05-’06, Carlin was eighth in team scoring with seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points in 56 games. The Steel finished sixth in the USHL’s Western Division with an 18-36-6 record. In two seasons with Sioux Falls (2003-05), Carlin played in 109 games with three goals and 14 assists for 17 points. A steady, all-around defenseman, Carlin got his start in junior hockey playing for the Compuware Ambassadors. A Western Pennsylvania native, he was a teammate of incoming freshman Christiaan Minella and current Irish freshman, Christian Hanson (Venetia, Pa.).

Jackson on Carlin: “Stewart Carlin is a smart, intelligent hockey player who will give us some versatility because he can play a number of positions. He’s strong on his skates and makes good decisions with the puck. He’s worked hard to get to this level and I admire his perseverance and how much he wanted to be a part of our program.”

Dan Kissel is a 5-10, 168-pound left wing who was a teammate of Carlin’s this past season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel. With the Steel, Kissel was third on the team in scoring with 17 goals and 27 assists for 44 points and participated in the USHL Prospects/All-Star game in February. His goal total included four power-play tallies and one game winner and the 27 assists ranked 22nd in the league. Kissel started USHL career during the 2004-05 campaign with the Steel, playing in 18 games with one goal and four assists for five points.

Jackson on Kissel: “Dan Kissel is a highly skilled player who brings an aggressive style of play to our lineup. He was an all-around contributor in Chicago and played well on the power play. He has the ability to beat an opponent one-on-one and a nice touch around the goal. He gives us another skilled offensive player for the future.”

The four early signees each had strong seasons in junior hockey in 2005-06. Kevin Deeth finished the season second in scoring with the Green Bay Gamblers with 20 goals and 34 assists for 54 points. He had six power-play goals, two short-handed tallies and two game winners. He finished 22nd in goals in the USHL, 11th in assists and 12th in overall points. The Gamblers finished third in the USHL’s Eastern Division with a 30-26-4 record and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Des Moines.

Defenseman Kyle Lawson played in 49 games for the Tri-City Storm and had nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points and was the top-scoring defenseman on the team. Three of his nine goals came via the power play. The Storm was fourth in the USHL’s Western Division and lost in the first round of the playoffs, three games to two, to Sioux Falls.

Christiaan Minella had his best season in the USHL, finishing third on the Sioux City Musketeers in scoring with 24 goals and 14 assists for 38 points. Minella scored eight goals via the power play and had four game winners on the year. He led Sioux City in goals and his total of 24 was 13th best in the USHL. Sioux City was fifth in the Western Division with a 28-26-6 record and did not make the playoffs.

Ryan Thang started the season in Sioux Falls and was traded to the Omaha Lancers in January. Between the two teams, he had 23 goals and 29 assists for 52 points with four power-play goals, three short-handed tallies and two game winners. Omaha was third in the Western Division with a 35-21-4 record and the Lancers lost in the first round of the playoffs, three games to two, to the Lincoln Stars.

Notre Dame Hockey Recruits For 2006-07
Player Pos. DOB Ht./Wt. Sh Hometown/2005-06 TeamBrett Blatchford D 6/5/86 5-11/177 L Temperance, Mich./Texas Tornado (NAHL)Stewart Carlin D 7/12/85 6-0/175 R Jeannette, Pa./Chicago Steel (USHL)Kevin Deeth F 5/26/87 5-8/165 L Gig Harbor, Wash./Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)Dan Kissel F 1/25/87 5-10/168 L Streamwood, Ill./Chicago Steel (USHL)Kyle Lawson D 1/11/87 6-0/200 R New Hudson, Mich./Tri-City Storm (USHL)Christiaan Minella F 7/5/85 6-2/200 R Aurora, Colo./Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)Tom O'Brien G 4/28/87 6-0/187 L Mokena, Ill./Bridgewater Bandits (EJHL)Ryan Thang F 5/11/87 6-1/185 R Edina, Minn./Omaha Lancers(USHL)