Jan. 30, 2014
Notre Dame, Ind. –
No one said that this was going to be easy. When Notre Dame announced they were joining Hockey East two years ago, they basically went from a tough league – the CCHA, to arguably the best college hockey conference in the nation. The Irish are quickly finding out that there are no easy games, especially when you are only playing teams twice. Every point is crucial and when you fall a bit behind it’s tough to make up ground.
The Irish travel to Durham, N.H., this weekend (Jan. 31 and Feb. 1) to take on the New Hampshire Wildcats at the Whittemore Center on the UNH campus. For many who haven’t been there, it’s an Olympic-size sheet with rabid fan-based that knows and loves their hockey.
On Friday night, opening face off is set for 7:35 p.m. and the game will be televised by Fox Sports College Network East with Dan Parkhurst and Peter Webster calling the action. Saturday’s game will have a quick turnaround as the two teams meet at 4:00 p.m. That game will be televised by the New England Sports Network (NESN) with Tom Caron and Craig Janney calling the action and Leah Hextall on the sidelines.
The Irish enter the weekend ranked 14th in the nation and are 15-9-1 overall but just 4-6-1 in Hockey East, good for nine points and eighth place in the standings. Notre Dame is coming off a six-game home stand that saw the Irish go 5-1-0, including last weekend’s split with Northeastern where the Huskies blanked the Irish, 4-0, on Friday and Notre Dame returned the favor the following night by a 3-0 verdict.
New Hampshire also is coming off a split last weekend, winning at home versus Maine, 3-2, on Friday night before dropping a 4-2 decision at Orono, Me., on Saturday.
The Wildcats are 14-13-1 overall and are 6-6-0 in conference play, good for 12 points and sixth place in the standings. UNH has played one more game than the Irish (12-11) as the teams head into the weekend.
“Every game at this point is important, I don’t care if it is home or away,” says Irish coach Jeff Jackson who picked up his 200th win behind the Notre Dame bench last Saturday.
“We need to win games and pick up points. This will be a brand new environment for us. Their Olympic rink is an official Olympic rink. It’s an ocean, so getting acclimated to the rink is important. They have a rowdy building and a big student crowd. It’s a tough building to play in. UNH is a good team. They are a top-20 program just like us. It will be a tough weekend. They are battling for a top four spot in the conference too.”
IRISH VERSUS WILDCATS
Notre Dame and New Hampshire have met six times in the all-time series with the Wildcats holding a 4-2-0 advantage. At Durham, the Wildcats are 2-0-0 with games played there during the 1990-91 season and again in 1999-00. New Hampshire won both those games by 2-1 margins.
The last two times the teams have met were at neutral sites and have come in NCAA Tournament action. Both times the Irish have downed UNH on the way to a trip to the Frozen Four. On March 28, 2008, the teams met in Colorado Springs, Colo., in the first round of the tournament with the Irish taking a 7-3 win. The Irish then defeated Michigan State to advance to the Frozen Four in Denver where they defeated Michigan, 5-4 in overtime before losing in the title game to Boston College, 4-1. On March 27, 2011, the teams met in the championship game of the Northeastern Regional, played in Manchester, N.H., with the Irish prevailing, 2-1. Notre Dame moved on to the Frozen Four that year in St. Paul, Minn., where they fell to Minnesota-Duluth in the semifinals, 4-3. Nine current Irish seniors played in the Northeast Regional final. Senior defenseman Stephen Johns (Wampum, Pa.) is the only one to have a point as he scored the opening goal of the game.
“That seems so long ago,” says Johns.
“I remember them being a very skilled team that could really shut you down and make you work for goals. Fortunately we were lucky enough that night to win and advance. It was cool to score a goal in a big game like that. It was my second that year.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE 101
Notre Dame makes its first visit to the University of New Hampshire this weekend as members of Hockey East. Here’s a look at one of the conference’s original teams.
The University of New Hampshire was founded in 1866 as the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, and was one of the early land-grant institutions established to serve the sons and daughters of farming and laboring families.
First situated in Hanover, N.H., in connection with Dartmouth College, New Hampshire College moved to its Durham campus in 1893 after Benjamin Thompson, a prosperous farmer, bequeathed land and money to further the development of the college. In 1893, Thompson Hall was completed, built with native granite and state-manufactured brick. That fall, with 37-year-old, former minister Charles S. Murkland at its helm, the College opened its doors in Durham.
By 1919, the College enrolled 607 students. In five years, that number doubled to 1,230. By 1923, the College, by state legislative decree, changed its name to the University of New Hampshire. After World War II, the GI Bill brought waves of new students and the lack of space on campus was described as “painful.” As then President Harold Stoke explained to the faculty, whereas college enrollment in the country had experienced an eight-fold growth since 1900, the University had grown 30-fold.
Today UNH is not only a land-grant institution but also a designated sea- and space-grant University, and is among the top-tier research institutions nationally. The University is made up of dozens of academic departments, interdisciplinary institutes, and research centers that attract students and faculty from around the world. The University has grown into a top public research university occupying 2,600 acres of classic living and learning space, while still maintaining the look and feel of a New England liberal arts college with a faculty dedicated to teaching. UNH is home to the NASA-recognized Space Science Center; the Institute for Study for Earth, Oceans and Space; and the Institute of Marine Science and Engineering. The English program is staffed by an inspiring faculty of winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the MacArthur Fellowship, the Edgar Allen Poe Award and the Young Poets Award. In addition, the Whittemore School of Business and Economics, established in 1962, was recently selected second among all business schools in a nationwide pool of business school deans. UNH also graduates students who attend top-notch graduate schools, including Law School at Harvard and Cornell, Engineering at Stanford, and Medical School at Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard.
Located 60 miles south of Portland, Me., and 90 miles north of Boston, Durham is just 15 miles east of the Atlantic Ocean and two hours south of the scenic White Mountains. The University of New Hampshire is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association in football, the America East Conference in all other sports except for men and women’s hockey that plays in Hockey East.
The hockey team plays in the Whittemore Center on an Olympic sheet of ice (200 X 100). The arena seats 6,501 for hockey and up to 7,500 for concerts and convocations.
Head coach Dick Umile is a six-time Hockey East Coach of the Year and in in his 23rd season at UNH and owns a 533-289-95 record while leading the Wildcats to four Frozen Four appearances, 17 NCAA tournament appearances and 21 Hockey East championship tournament showings in his 22-year career in Durham. The list of former Wildcats in the NHL includes: James van Riemsdyck (Toronto), Daniel Winnik (Anaheim) and Bobby Butler (New Jersey). The list of alums also is made up of the likes of Rod Langway, Steve Leach, Ty Conklin, Andy Brickley and Bruce Crowder.
BID ON A JERSEY
Last weekend, Notre Dame honored members of the military as they helped to raise money for the organization – “Hockey Saves.” Based in Fort Benning, Ga., the program began to provide soldiers at the base an outlet through hockey. Originally, it provided ice time for a few dozen servicemen but has grown to include over 200 players in Fort Benning. With all the players joining the organization, the groups’ needs have grown for equipment and ice time. Senior goaltender Joe Rogers (Marysville, Mich.) organized the event that includes a jersey auction for the specially designed jerseys worn by the Irish in both games of the Northeastern series. To bid on a jersey go to http://und.cstvauctions.com All 27 players have jerseys that are available. The auction will continue until 9 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 4. All proceeds will go to the “Hockey Saves,” organization.
IRISH ON THE RADIO
Can’t get enough Irish hockey? Then we have a radio show for you. On Monday, Feb. 3, Irish head coach Jeff Jackson will appear at the LaSalle Kitchen and Tap from 6-7 p.m. on Sports Beat with the voice of Irish hockey, Darin Pritchett. Fans can attend the show live or listen on WSBT 960 AM or 96.1 FM. Along with hearing from Coach Jackson on all things sports, as well as, Notre Dame hockey, a team member also will be in attendance to talk Irish hockey. That’s on Monday, Feb. 3, from 6-7 p.m., the final hour of Sports Beat with Irish hockey head coach Jeff Jackson.
In Notre Dame’s 3-0 win over Northeastern, junior right wing Peter Schneider (Vienna, Austria) scored short-handed in the second period for his fifth goal of the season. His “shorty” gives the Irish six on the season and ties them for third in the nation and in Hockey East.
“I always try to play on the defensive side first, that’s why the coaches have me on the PK,” says Schneider.
“On that play, Kevin Lind made a nice play with his stick (to break up the pass). Jeff Costello had the puck under control 100% and he didn’t have any pressure on him, so I knew it was time for me to go. It was a reaction play. I could have recovered if we lost the puck.”
From there, the speedy Schneider was off to the races on a breakaway, beating goaltender Clay Witt with a backhander over his stick hand and under the cross bar for his first career short-handed goal.
“I haven’t had a lot of success with my backhand in my three years here,” recalls Schneider.
“I told Jeff before we went out that if I had a breakaway, I was going to go to my backhand and this time it worked.
Playing on the penalty-killing unit is a role that Schneider enjoys.
“In practice we have mock PK where we simulate the other teams’ penalty kill. I always worked hard on that and the coaches saw that and gave me a chance on our PK and it worked out for me,” says Schneider.
The Irish enter the weekend with New Hampshire tied for third with Providence, Rensselaer and Robert Morris with six short-handed goals. Maine and Mercyhurst lead the nation with eight. Notre Dame defenseman Robbie Russo (Jr., Westmont, Ill.) leads the Irish with two while Stephen Johns, T.J. Tynan (Sr., Orland Park, Ill.), Bryan Rust (Sr., Novi, Mich.) and Schneider have one each.
For the season, Notre Dame is third in Hockey East and seventh on the national level with an 87.1% (108-of-124) success rate killing penalties. Since Jan. 1, the Irish have killed 31-of-33 (93.9%) opponent power plays.
A COACHING MILESTONE
Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson recorded his 200th win on the Irish bench with the 3-0 win over Northeastern on Jan. 25. He is now 200-119-34 (.615) in this his ninth season at Notre Dame. In 15 seasons as a Division I head coach (six at Lake Superior State and nine at Notre Dame), Jackson has a career mark of 382-171-59 (.673). His .673 winning percentage is tops among active Division I coaches.
HOCKEY EAST HAPPENINGS
Boston College enters its game at Providence on Friday night unbeaten in 11 games (10-0-1) since December 1 … the Eagles have just one league game this week and will play Monday, Feb. 3, in the Beanpot Tournament at TD Garden … BC faces Boston University while Northeastern will play Harvard on Monday night … the championship and third-place games will be played on Feb. 10 … six Hockey East teams begin the week ranked in the USCHO.com top 20 – Boston College is second, Providence seventh, UMass-Lowell eighth, Northeastern is 10th, the Irish 14th and Vermont is 19th … the Irish will have their work cut out for them when they face New Hampshire as the Wildcats have four players in the top 15 in scoring – senior forward Kevin Goumas is seventh (10g, 20a, 30 pts), senior forward Nick Sorkin is eighth (15g, 14, 29 pts), junior forward Matt Willows is tied for 13th (12g, 11a, 23 pts) with junior defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyck (4g, 19a, 23 pts) …. van Riemsdyck leads all Hockey East defensemen in scoring with his 23 points … Notre Dame freshman center Vince Hinostroza is currently third in scoring among Hockey East rookies with 22 points on six goals and 16 assists … that puts him six behind Northeastern’s Mike Szmatula (10g, 18a, 28 pts) and one behind Vermont’s Mario Puskarich (11g, 12a, 23 pts) … Hinostroza is averaging 1.16 points per game and that is tops among Hockey East rookies … Mario Lucia’s seven power-play goals ties him for the league lead in power-play tallies … he is joined by Northeastern’s Braden Pimm and Massachusetts forward Michael Pereira … Massachusetts leads Hockey East on the power play, scoring 26 times in 119 chances for a 21.8% success rate … BC’s line of Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes continue at 1-2-3 in the Hockey East scoring race and all find themselves in the top ten in scoring in Division I. Gaudreau is first, averaging 2.00 points per game (22g, 28a, 50 pts), Hayes is third at 1.80 points per game (19g, 26a, 45 pts), and Arnold is seventh at 1.44 ppg (8g, 28a, 36 pts).