Incoming freshman defenseman Robbie Russo is the highest ranked Notre Dame player in this year's NHL Entry Draft.  The defenseman was ranked 55th in Central Scouting's final rankings.

Irish Hockey Adds Five During Early Signing Period

Dec. 10, 2010

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson today announced that five players have signed National Letters-of-Intent to attend the University beginning with the 2011-12 campaign.

Signing National Letters-of-Intent in the early-signing period are defensemen Eric Johnson (Verona, Wis.), Robbie Russo (Westmont, Ill.) and Andrew Ryan (Brighton, Mich.) along with forward Peter Schneider (Vienna, Austria). They join forward Garrett Peterson (Manhattan, Ill.) who signed a letter-of-intent in the 2009 early-signing period but returned to the Lincoln Stars in the USHL this season.

In making the announcement, Jackson said, “We’re very excited about this group of players. We think that they have the potential to step in and play. What I like most about them is they are all strong skaters that play with a little more grit to their game.”

Two members of the class – Russo and Ryan – play for USA Hockey’s National Team Developmental Program while the other three are currently playing in the United States Hockey League (USHL). Two members of this group – Russo and Ryan – are currently listed by the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting in their preliminary rankings.

Johnson is a 6-1, 201-pound left-handed shooting defenseman who is the brother of sophomore goaltender Mike Johnson. A tough, hard-nosed defenseman, Johnson is extremely competitive and is known for taking the body. A product of the Madison (Wis.) Capitols Midget Major program, he played in 29 games with the Wenatchee Wild of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) last season, scoring a pair of goals with five assists for seven points. He was +7 with 24 penalty minutes as the Wild were first in the NAHL West Division with a 45-10-3 record. They advanced to the Robertson Cup finals where they were 2-2 in round-robin play. This season, Johnson started the year with Wenatchee where he had two assists in 19 games with 18 penalty minutes and was +8. He was traded to the Dubuque Saints (USHL) on Dec. 3 and has played two games for former Irish volunteer assistant coach Jim Montgomery’s squad and is +2 in those games.


Defenseman Eric Johnson is the brother of sophomore goaltender Mike Johnson. He’s a defensive-defenseman playing for the USHL’s Dubuque Saints.



Jackson on Johnson: Eric Johnson obviously comes from good blood. The character of his brother certainly increased our interest in him. We liked him as a player. He’s more of a defensive-minded defenseman who plays a physical style. He skates well and we think he will be a good defensive-defenseman who will give us a physical presence in the defensive zone. He can play our transition game because he has good vision and makes a good first pass.

Peterson is a 5-11, 190-pound right wing who is in his third season with the USHL’s Lincoln Stars. He originally signed a national letter-of-intent to attend Notre Dame in the early-signing period (November) of 2009. A fast, aggressive two-way forward with excellent speed, Peterson plays with an edge to his game. He just returned to the Lincoln lineup after missing the first part of the season due to shoulder surgery. In his eight games since returning to the lineup, Peterson has six goals and two assists for eight points and is +1 with 12 penalty minutes. The Stars are currently second in the USHL’s Western Division with an 11-7-1 record. A product of the Team Illinois Midget AAA program, Peterson was a first round selection of Lincoln in the 2007 USHL Futures Draft. In 2008-09, he helped Lincoln to the USHL West Division title with seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points and 104 minutes in penalties. Last season, Lincoln was last in the West Division and Peterson had six goals and nine assists for 15 points in 56 games with 120 minutes in penalties. He was a teammate in each of his first two seasons with current Irish freshman David Gerths. Peterson was a member of the 2008 USA Under-18 Select Team that participated in the Ivan Hlinka tournament in the Czech Republic in August of 2008.


Right wing Garrett Peterson is off to a hot start with the Lincoln Stars this season with six goals in his first eight games.



Jackson on Peterson: “Garrett (Peterson) is coming off a major injury that required surgery this season. We’ve always admired his skating ability. We like where he is at in his game. He’s an older freshman who is well built and strong physically. I expect him to add energy to our forward unit in whatever role he fills. Garrett will add depth to our forward lineup and can play a variety of roles in our offensive attack.

Russo is a 5-11, 183-pound, right shot defenseman who is in his second year with the USA National Team Development program in Ann Arbor, Mich. A strong, puck-moving defenseman, Russo is an offensive-minded blue liner with good hands and outstanding hockey skills. A teammate of current Irish freshman T.J. Tynan with the Chicago Mission Midget program, Russo has the skills to quarterback the power play and be an offensive force on the ice. He was ranked 10th by NHL Central Scouting in their preliminary rankings on Nov. 16 of skaters in the USHL and with the USA Under-18 team. In 25 games this season with the Under-18 team, Russo has two goals and nine assists for 11 points with 16 penalty minutes. In international play, Russo helped the U.S. to a gold medal at the Four Nations Cup in Sundsvall, Sweden as he tied for third in the tournament in scoring with two goals and four assists for six points. In the gold medal game, he scored once in regulation and then twice in the shootout to help the U.S. beat Sweden. With the Under-17 team in 2009-10, Russo played in 52 games with seven goals and 24 assists for 31 points while picking up 58 penalty minutes to finish second in team scoring and first among defensemen. He helped the U.S. to a first-place finish at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Timmins, Ont., where he had five points (three goals and two assists) with all three goals coming on the power play.

Jackson on Russo: Robbie (Russo) is a player that we’ve coveted for three years now. He has the vision, the instincts and the offensive puck skills to give us a real threat from the point on the power play. He skates well and makes great decisions with puck. He can find the open guy in transition and off the break out and will give us a boost from the offensive side on the blue line.


Defenseman Andy Ryan, a member of the USA Under-18 Team will follow his brother, current senior Ben Ryan, to Notre Dame.



Ryan is a 6-0, 185-pound right-handed defenseman who is the brother of current Irish senior center Ben Ryan and is a teammate of Russo’s with the USA National Team Developmental Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. A shutdown type defenseman, he often matches the opposition’s top line. A strong skater who plays a strong game down low in the defensive zone, Ryan is a product of the Victory Honda midget program in Detroit. As a member of the Under 18 team this season, he has played in 15 games with one assist and six penalty minutes. He was listed as a limited view player in NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary list on Nov. 16. Last season with the Under-17 team, he played in 52 games with two goals and five assists for seven points and 28 penalty minutes. He was a member of the team that won the gold medal at the World Under-17 Challenge in Timmins, Ont. In his final season with Victory Honda, as a 15-year old playing on the Under-18 team, Ryan had three goals and 18 assists for 21 points and 26 minutes in penalties in 70 games played.

Jackson on Ryan: Andy (Ryan) is another player who comes from good blood following his brother, Ben, to Notre Dame. He’s more of a defensive-minded defenseman, a shutdown type guy. He’s a smart, heady player. He makes smart decisions with the puck. I look for him to evolve into a player that we’ll use against the opposition’s top line. He continues to develop his offensive game with the national program and we’re hoping that as time goes on he’ll look to jump more and be a factor at the offensive end of the ice.

Schneider rounds out the group of five and he is a 5-11, 180-pound right wing who is currently playing for the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League. A talented, offensive threat, Schneider is quick with a good shot and a goal scorer’s instincts around the net. He’s a strong, dynamic player with good hands and the ability to beat an opponent one-on-one. Through 18 games this season, Schneider is second on the Ice in scoring with 17 points on 12 goals and five assists. He has three power-play goals and one game winner while being +9 on the year. In the USHL, Schneider ranks 13th in the league in points while his 12 goals are third best overall. Indiana is seventh in the USHL’s East Division with a 7-9-2 record. He will become the first Austrian to play at Notre Dame and the third European joining current senior Calle Ridderwall and Robin Bergman. He was a member of Austria’s 2009-10 World Junior team that participated in the `09-’10 World Junior Championships and will be a member of this year’s team that will play in the relegation tournament.

Jackson on Schneider: Peter (Schneider) is a very good skater with great puck skills and instincts. He’s the kind of player who can challenge you one-on-one offensively or he can make a play, finding the open man. We expect Peter to help offset the loss of Calle Ridderwall on the wing and potentially as a center. I really like his upside as college player and he has a chance to beat a good offensive threat for us during his career.”

                             Class of 2011-12
Player Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. S/C Hometown/2010-11 Team
Eric Johnson D 3/28/91 6-1 201 L Verona, Wis./Wenatchee Wild (NAHL)/Dubuque Saints (USHL)Garrett Peterson RW 9/13/91 5-11 190 R Manhattan, Ill./Lincoln Stars (USHL)Robbie Russo D 2/15/93 5-11 183 R Westmont, Ill./USA Under-18 TeamAndrew Ryan D 7/24/93 6-1 185 R Brighton, Mich./USA Under-18 TeamPeter Schneider RW 4/4/91 5-11 180 R Vienna, Austria/Indiana Ice (USHL)