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Irish Open Season With Series At Minnesota-Duluth

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Oct. 7, 2002

  • The Series: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-17-5/12-12-4) vs. Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (13-24-3/6-19-3)
  • Date/Site/Times: Fri.-Sat., Oct. 11-12 – Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (5,333) – 7:05 p.m.
  • Broadcast Information: Notre Dame hockey will be broadcast live on WDND South Bend’s ESPN Radio 1620 with Mike Lockert calling all the action. Irish hockey can also be heard live via the internet at

LET THE GAMES BEGIN: Notre Dame opens its 35th season in the modern era of Irish hockey this weekend when the Irish travel to Duluth, Minn., for a pair of games with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on Fri.-Sat., Oct. 11-12. Faceoff both nights at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center is set for 7:05 p.m. Notre Dame is coming off a season that saw the Irish go 16-17-5 overall with a 12-12-4 mark in CCHA play. The Irish played their best hockey late in the season going 7-2 over the final nine games including a best-of-three playoff upset at Nebraska-Omaha. Notre Dame lost in the first game of the CCHA’s Super Six at Joe Louis Arena to Northern Michigan by a 3-1 score. Minnesota-Duluth was 13-24-3 on the season and finished ninth in the WCHA with a 6-19-3 league mark. Following this weekend’s series versus Minnesota-Duluth, the Irish return home to open the CCHA schedule on Fri., Oct. 18 at the Joyce Center versus Western Michigan. Game time is 7:05 p.m. The following night, the two teams will play in Kalamazoo, Mich. Game time on Oct. 19 is 7:05 p.m. in Kalamazoo, 6:05 p.m. in South Bend.

HEAD COACH DAVE POULIN: Head coach Dave Poulin begins his eighth season as head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. A 1982 Notre Dame grad, Poulin comes into the season needing just three more wins to reach 100 for his career. He is currently 97-135-34 (.424) overall and is 69-102-30 (.418) in CCHA contests. Poulin faced the Bulldogs eight times as a player from 1978-81 helping the Irish to a 5-3 record in those games while scoring five goals and 10 assists for 15 points.

A LOOK AT THE BULLDOGS: The Bulldogs return 16 letterwinners from their 2001-02 squad that was 13-24-3 overall and 6-19-3 in WCHA play. Coach Scott Sandelin, now in his third season behind the Bulldogs’ bench will have to replace three of his top four scorers from last season – forward Judd Medak (18-33-51), all-WCHA defenseman Andy Reierson (16-19-35) and Tom Nelson (11-23-34). Leading the way will be team captain and center Jon Francisco (12-27-39) who finished second to Medak in scoring. Junior forward Junior Lessard was second on the team with 17 goals (nine ppg) and added 13 assists for 30 points. On defense, the Bulldogs feature a veteran unit with five returnees. Senior Beau Geisler (3-15-18), who will look to replace the offensive-minded Reierson, is the leader of the UMD blue line. In goal, the Bulldogs return both goaltenders from last season, senior Rob Anderson and junior Adam Coole. Anderson was 9-11-0 with a 3.50 goals-against average and a .890 save percentage. Coole was 4-13-3 with a 3.76 goals against and a .893 save percentage. For more information on the Bulldogs, check the Minnesota-Duluth website at

PRESEASON RECAP: Notre Dame opened the 2002-03 season with an 8-1 win over the University of Toronto on Oct. 4 at the Joyce Center. The Irish fired 61 shots on two Blues’ goaltenders, including 31 in the five-goal third period. Six players had two points for Notre Dame in the win led by freshman Matt Amado’s (Surrey, B.C.) two-goal game. Joe Zurenko (So., Arlington Heights, Ill.), Connor Dunlop (Sr., St. Louis, Mo.) and Jake Wiegand (Sr., Northville, Mich.) each had a goal and an assist while Neil Komadoski (Jr., Chesterfield, Mo.) and Yan Stastny (So., St. Louis, Mo.) each had a pair of assists. After a scoreless first period, the Irish scored three goals in the second and five in the third to build an 8-0 lead. Toronto’s lone goal went off an Irish defenseman after goaltender Tony Zasowski (Sr., Darien, Ill.) had made the initial save. Morgan Cey (So., Wilkie, Sask.) played the first two periods making 16 saves while Zasowski made eight stops in the third period.

SEASON OPENERS: The Irish begin their 35th season in the modern era (1968-present) on Fri., Oct. 11 at Minnesota-Duluth. Notre Dame is 18-16-0 in its first 34 season openers. When those openers occur on the road, the Irish are 7-12-0. At home, the Irish have an 11-4 record in season openers. Over the last 10 seasons, Notre Dame is 5-5 in season openers (0-3 in the last three). The last time the Irish opened the year with a victory came on Oct. 2, 1998 when they won 2-1 at Wisconsin.

IRISH AND THE WCHA: Notre Dame was a member of the WCHA for 10 seasons (1971-81) before moving to the CCHA beginning with the 1981-82 season. During those 10 years, Notre Dame compiled a 166-191-17 record in the WCHA. The best seasons for the Irish came in 1972-73 when they were 23-14-1 and finished in second place and again in 1976-77 when the Irish were 22-13-3 and finished second. Two members of those teams, defensemen Jack Brownschidle and Bill Nyrop were selected to the WCHA’s 50 Players in 50 Years promotion last season.

MORE IRISH AND THE WCHA: The last time that Notre Dame faced a team from the WCHA was Oct. 7, 2000 when the Irish faced Minnesota in the Hall of Fame game at the Xcel Energy Center. The Gophers won that game, 7-3. ND’s last win over a team from the WCHA came on Jan. 3, 1998 when the Irish downed top-ranked North Dakota, 4-3, in Grand Forks. The Irish are 5-4-1 versus the WCHA in the last 10 meetings since Oct. 17, 1997.

THE IRISH AND MINNESOTA: Over the years, the State of Minnesota has provided the Fighting Irish with more than its share of hockey players. From former head coach Charles “Lefty” Smith (a St. Paul native) to today’s roster which features three Minnesotans, the Irish have had 82 monogram winners from Minnesota. Three of those players – Kevin Hoene (’68-’71), Wade Salzman (’93-’96) and Kyle Kolquist (’97-’01) – are Duluth natives. Minnesota natives on the 2002-03 roster include: junior Aaron Gill (Rochester), junior Kyle Dolder (Hutchinson) and freshman Tony Gill (Rochester).

INJURY LIST: Notre Dame will be without the services of freshman left wing Mike Walsh (Northville, Mich.) who suffered a broken jaw in the preseason game with Toronto. Walsh is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks with the injury.

PRESEASON POLLS: The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) announced the results of the coaches and the media’s preseason polls at it’s annual Media Day in Detroit on Sept. 17. In the annual polls, Notre Dame was picked to finish seventh by both the coaches and the media. In fact, the both polls were identical from top to bottom as both groups selected defending champion Michigan to defend its title. In the coaches poll, Michigan received eight of 12 first-place votes with Michigan State getting two and Northern Michigan and Ohio State each getting one. The media’s poll (with 72 members of the media voting) saw Michigan get 39 first-place votes, Michigan State 22, Northern Michigan 7 and Ohio State 3.

THE CAPTAINS: Senior defenseman Evan Nielsen (Evanston, Ill.) will serve as team captain for the second consecutive season in 2002-03. He is the first two-time captain since Steve Noble handled the job in 1996-97 and 1997-98. He becomes the 12th two-time captain in the program’s 35th season. One of the CCHA’s top returning defensemen, Nielsen had a career season during 2001-02 with seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points while being +5 on the year. Serving as alternate captains this season will be senior center Connor Dunlop and junior center Aaron Gill. Dunlop served as an alternate captain in 2001-02 and had the best season of his career. Dunlop had nine goals and 36 assists for 45 points with the assist and point totals being the most for a Notre Dame player since 1991-92. An honorable mention all-CCHA performer, Dunlop was fourth among CCHA scorers overall and finished second in 28 league games with nine goals and 27 assists for 36 points. Gill has been a steady performer in his first two seasons with the Irish. He is coming off an eight-goal, 14-assist season. Known for his non-stop hustle, Gill is one of the teams top faceoff men and penalty killers.

CENTER OF ATTENTION: Irish center Connor Dunlop is coming off the best season of his career and the best year for a Notre Dame hockey player since 1991-92. Dunlop capped his junior year by leading the Irish in scoring with nine goals and 36 assists for 45 points. The 36 assists were the most since Curtis Janicke recorded 38 in 1991-92 and the 45 points were the most since Janicke’s 50-point campaign in ’91-’92.

An all-CCHA and all-American candidate this season, Dunlop was fourth overall among CCHA scorers and third in assists. In the 28-game regular season league rankings, Dunlop was second in points (36) and assists (27).

An honorable mention all-CCHA selection in 2001-02, Dunlop turned in a seven-point (two goals, five assists) weekend series versus Alaska Fairbanks (Feb. 1-2) including his second four-point game of the season. For the year, Dunlop recorded two four-point games, three with three-points and 13 multiple-point games in all.

SEN-CEY-SATIONAL: Notre Dame goaltender Morgan Cey was among the top freshmen netminders in the country during the 2001-02 season. Cey turned in a 15-14-3 record with a 2.72 goals against average and a school-record .910 save percentage. He also equalled a Notre Dame mark with two shutouts. Over the final nine games of the year, Cey was 7-2 with a 1.77 goals against average. Cey backstopped the Irish to their playoff series win at Nebraska-Omaha. In three games covering 208:49 minutes, Cey gave up five goals, while stopping 99 of 104 shots for a 1.49 goals against and a .951 save percentage. An honorable mention selection for the CCHA all-rookie team, Cey goes into 2002-03 having started 24 consecutive games dating back to the Dec. 8, 2001 game with Bowling Green.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Three current members of the Notre Dame hockey program – senior center Connor Dunlop, junior defenseman Neil Komadoski and sophomore forward Yan Stastny – hold a unique connection, as each of their fathers enjoyed lengthy careers in the National Hockey League.

Blake Dunlop played 11 seasons in pro hockey (’73-’84), including NHL stints with the Minnesota North Stars (’73-’77), Philadelphia Flyers (’77-’79), St. Louis Blues (’79-’83) and Detroit Red Wings (’83-’84), while totaling 130G-274A in 550 career NHL games.

Neil Komadoski, Sr., played eight NHL seasons as a defenseman with the Los Angeles Kings (’72-’78) and the St. Louis Blues (’77-’80), totaling 16G-76A and 632 penalty minutes in 501 career games.

Peter Stastny played 15 seasons in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques (’80-’90), the New Jersey Devils (’90-’93) and the St. Louis Blues (’93-’95). He is currently the 23rd all-time scorer in league history with 450 goals, 789 assists and 1,239 points in 997 games. A six-time NHL all-star, Stastny is the highest scoring European-born player in NHL history and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998. The 1981 NHL rookie-of-the-year, Stastny is currently a special assignment scout for the St. Louis Blues.

Notre Dame’s NHL connection doesn’t stop there. Sophomore forward Alexander “Newsy” Lalonde (Newmarket, Ont.) also has NHL lineage as he is a distant relative of NHL pioneer and Hall of Famer, Edouard “Newsy” Lalonde. Lalonde played for the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Americans between 1917 and 1927 for a total of six seasons in which he scored 124 goals and 41 assists for 165 points in 99 games.

ALL IN THE FAMILY, PART II: Two freshmen hockey players – Rory Walsh (Milton, Mass.) and Mike Walsh have fathers who attended Notre Dame. Rory Walsh’s father, Brian (’77), was an all-American hockey player for the Irish. A center, the elder Walsh is Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer after recording 234 career points on 89 goals and 145 assists. Mike Walsh’s father, Max, (’74) was an offensive lineman on the Notre Dame football team and a member of the 1973 national championship team. Adding to the Irish family theme, sophomore left wing Yan Stastny’s (St. Louis, Mo.) younger sister, Kristina, is a freshman with the Notre Dame women’s tennis team while junior Aaron Gill’s younger brother Tony gives the Irish their ninth brother combo in the program’s history.

CAREER YEARS: Several Notre Dame players turned in career seasons in 2001-02. Connor Dunlop had the biggest season racking up career bests in goals (9), assists (36) and points (45). His previous best had been seven goals, 12 assists and 19 points in 2000-01. Defenseman Tom Galvin (Jr., Miller Place, N.Y.) turned in career highs in goals (4), assists (19) and points (23) as a sophomore after recording just four points (all assists) as a freshman. Right wing Michael Chin (Sr., Urbana, Ill.) turned in career highs with 13 goals, eight assists, 21 points and three power play goals. Fellow senior John Wroblewski (Neenah, Wis.) had 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points and two power play goals which surpassed his previous best of two goals, four assists and six points set in 2000-01.

CCHA ALL-ACADEMIC TEAM: David Inman was named to the CCHA’s nine-man 2001-02 all-Academic Team, making Notre Dame the CCHA’s only school to produce an all-Academic honoree in each of the last seven seasons. Inman finished second for the Irish in scoring with 19 goals and 18 assists for 37 points and was also an honorable mention all-CCHA selection. Inman turned in a 3.54 grade point average in finance during his Notre Dame career. The Irish have produced eight previous first team CCHA All-Academic selections since rejoining the CCHA in ’92-’93: Curtis Janicke and Carl Picconatto (’92-’93), Garry Gruber (’95-’96), Steve Noble (’96-’97, ’97-’98), Forrest Karr and Aniket Dhadphale (’98-’99), Andy Jurkowski (99′-’00) and Dan Carlson (2000-01). During that 10-year span, only Western Michigan (11) has produced more CCHA All-Academic selections than Notre Dame’s 10.

Academic All-Americans: Notre Dame saw its streak of five consecutive Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans snapped in 2001-02. Senior right wing David Inman (Toronto, Ont.) was selected as a District V selection for the At-Large team but did not make it to the national team. Prior to 2001-02, four Irish hockey players made the team over a five-year period.

CCHA SCORING LEADERS: Notre Dame finished the 2001-02 season second in scoring in the CCHA regular season. The Irish scored 95 goals in 28 league games for a 3.39 scoring average per game. Only Michigan scored more goals in league play (97, 3.46 average). Individually, Connor Dunlop was second in the league in scoring with nine goals and 27 assists for 36 points. David Inman was fifth with 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points. In 38 games overall, the Irish were seventh among CCHA teams in scoring with 117 goals (3.08 per game).

Closing The Deal: After seeing their 50-game unbeaten streak (42-0-8) when leading after two periods in the second game of last season, the Irish went 16-0-1 over the final 17 games they led after two periods. Since Jan. 9, 1998, the Irish are 58-2-9 when leading after two periods of play.

GALVIN-IZED: Defenseman Tom Galvin became an offensive force for the Irish in 2001-02 from the blue line. Galvin led Notre Dame’s defensemen in scoring with four goals and 19 assists for 23 points which ranked him third in team scoring on the year. He finished the year eighth among CCHA defensemen in scoring.

ROAD WARRIORS: Notre Dame finished the 2001-02 season with a 10-8-3 road record. The last time the Irish had a winning record on the road was 1997-98 when they were 12-11-0. Notre Dame was 6-8-2 at home last season.

HOMETOWNS: The 2002-03 Notre Dame hockey team features players from 10 states and four Canadian provinces – Alberta, British Columbia,Ontario and Saskat-chewan. In the seven-year tenure of head coach Dave Poulin, the Notre Dame hockey letter winners have hailed from 20 different states and provinces – those listed below, plus: Colorado, Delaware, New Jersey, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

2002-03 Notre Dame Hockey
– By State or Province:

Illinois (5): Michael Chin, Brett Lebda, Evan Nielsen, Tony Zasowski, Joe Zurenko
Michigan (5): Rob Globke, Jake Wiegand, Derek Smith, Chris Trick, Mike Walsh
Minnesota (3): Kyle Dolder, Aaron Gill, Tony Gill
Missouri (3): Connor Dunlop, Neil Komadoski, Yan Stastny
Massachusetts (2): Ryan Mundt, Rory Walsh
Alaska (1): Tim Wallace
Alberta (1): Brad Wanchulak
British Columbia (1): Matt Amado
Maryland (1): T.J. Mathieson
New York (1): Tom Galvin
North Dakota (1): Cory McLean
Ontario (1): Alex Lalonde
Saskatchewan (1): Morgan Cey
Wisconsin (1): John Wroblewski

IRON MEN: Junior defenseman Brett Lebda goes into the 2002-03 season having played 73 of 77 career games at Notre Dame. The lone games he missed came between 12/28 – 1/5 of last season while he was playing for the U.S. Junior National Team in the World Junior Championships. The Notre Dame record for consecutive games played is 103 and was set by Ryan Dolder over three seasons. The Notre Dame record for games played is held by Dan Carlson who played in 158 of a possible 160 games between 1997-2001. The only two he missed came while he was playing for the U.S. Junior National Team in 1998-99.

IRISH OVERTIME: Notre Dame was 2-1-5 in overtime during the 2001-02 season with one of those wins coming in the CCHA playoffs at Nebraska-Omaha. On Mar. 9, David Inman scored at 8:09 of the first overtime to give the Irish a 2-1 win in game two of the series. The overtime win was the first in the CCHA playoffs for Notre Dame. The previous night, the Irish fell to the Mavericks in the longest game in Notre Dame history (80:40) as Jeff Hoggan scored 40 seconds into the second overtime for a 3-2 win. The Irish are 1-2 in overtime during the CCHA playoffs.

During the regular season, Aaron Gill scored the overtime game-winner at Miami (Jan. 25). That was the first overtime game winner in a CCHA game for the Irish since Feb. 5, 2000 when Dan Carslon got the winning goal in overtime at Ohio State. Prior to Gill’s goal versus Miami, Notre Dame’s last overtime win came on Oct. 17, 2000 when Connor Dunlop got the game-deciding goal in overtime at home versus Wayne State. Over the last three seasons, Notre Dame is 5-2-20 in overtime.

NHL DRAFTEES: Notre Dame had three players selected in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft in June. Junior Rob Globke (West Bloomfield, Mich.) led the way as he was selected in the second round, 40th overall, by the Florida Panthers. That is the highest any Notre Dame hockey player has ever been selected in the NHL Draft. In the fifth round, freshman Mike Walsh was selected 143rd overall by the New York Rangers. The third member of the Notre Dame roster picked was sophomore Yan Stastny who was selected in the eighth round, 259th overall, by the Boston Bruins. They join senior Evan Nielsen (Atlanta Thrashers, 8th round, 2000 Draft) and junior defenseman Neil Komadoski (Ottawa Senators, 3rd round, 2001 Draft) as Notre Dame players selected by the NHL.

PATRIOTIC GROUP: Notre Dame’s current roster includes eight players who have past experience with USA Hockey, as members of the National Team Development Program (NTDP) and/or the National Junior Team. Notre Dame ranks second with 10 NTDP alums, one behind Michigan State (11), while Minnesota has nine. Notre Dame’s contingent includes seniors Michael Chin, John Wroblewski and Connor Dunlop, juniors Rob Globke, Neil Komadoski and Brett Lebda, sophomore Derek Smith and freshman forward Tim Wallace.

Former Irish players Brett Henning and Paul Harris also were members of the Developmental program prior to playing at Notre Dame.

Globke and Lebda also played for Team USA at last year’s World Junior Championships. For Globke, it was his second appearance for Team USA and he scored two goals with one assist in helping the U.S. team to a 4-1-2 record and fifth place. Lebda made his first appearance and scored a goal in seven tournament games. The Irish have had at least one player on the National Junior Team in each of the last six years.

PENALTY SHOTS: After not being involved with a penalty shot either for or against for over two seasons, the Irish were involved in two penalty shots during 2001-02. On Dec. 8 at Bowling Green, Irish goaltender Morgan Cey stopped BG’s Greg Day at 9:52 of the second period. That was the first penalty shot called against the Irish since Mar. 13, 1999 when Matt Eisler stopped Michigan’s Bill Muckalt in a 4-2 Notre Dame win in the CCHA playoffs. In Notre Dame’s second game of the year versus Union College, Rob Globke scored on a penalty shot versus Union College’s Brandon Snee at 3:41 of the third period in the 7-4 loss to Union College. That was the first penalty shot by an an Irish player since Feb. 5, 1998 when Brian Urick was stopped by Ohio State’s Jeff Maund.

RIVALRY CLUSTERS: The CCHA starts its new scheduling format this season as the league’s 12 teams are grouped in “rivalry pairings.” In the new pairings, Notre Dame is paired with Bowling Green. The league’s other pairings include Michigan-Michigan State, Miami-Ohio State, Lake Superior State-Northern Michigan, Ferris State-Western Michigan and Alaska Fairbanks-Nebraska-Omaha.

The conference will continue to use the 28-game three-cluster format that was implemented three years ago to determine the regular-season champion. The teams will be divided into three clusters made up of two of the above pairings with each team playing the other three members of its cluster four times (twice at home and twice on the road). Each team hosts two teams and visits the other two from each of the other clusters. While the schedule is designed for two-game weekend series, some teams have taken advantage of the option to play home-and-home series when geographically possible.

In 2002-03, Notre Dame will play Bowling Green, Ferris State and Western Michigan four times with two games at home and two away. The Irish will also host two-game series with Lake Superior State, Miami, Michigan State and Ohio State while traveling for two games to Alaska Fairbanks, Michigan, Nebraska-Omaha and Northern Michigan.

WINNING STREAKS: Notre Dame ran off five straight wins from Feb. 9 through Mar. 2 to close the 2001-02 regular season. That five-game win streak was the longest for the Irish since a five-game streak (Jan. 3-Jan. 16) during the 1998-99 season. All five wins came versus CCHA opponents which equals Notre Dame’s longest CCHA winning streak in their 12 seasons as a member of the CCHA. The Irish have done it twice – Oct. 9-23, 1998 and Jan. 30-Feb. 13, 1982.