Junior Kevin Deeth will play a key role in the Notre Dame offensive attack this season.  He led the team with 27 assists a year ago.

It's A Hockey Night In South Bend - Season Opener On Fri., Oct. 9

Oct. 8, 2009

Notre Dame, Ind. –

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• Chargers make first visit to South Bend since 1990-91 campaign.
• Irish picked second in CCHA preseason poll by league's coaches and media.
• The Games: #5/#5 Notre Dame (31-6-3 in `08-'09) vs. Alabama-Huntsville (5-20-5 in `08-'09)
• Date/Site/Time: Friday, October 9, 2009 • Joyce Center Arena • 7:35 p.m. Saturday, October 10, 2009 • Joyce Center Arena • 7:05 p.m.
• Broadcast Information: Radio: Notre Dame hockey can be heard live on Cat Country 99.9 FM. Darin Pritchett will call the action for the Irish.
• Internet: Irish hockey can be seen and heard on the internet at the Notre Dame website - www.und.com. All Notre Dame home games are available via gametracker.

IT’S A HOCKEY WEEKEND IN SOUTH BEND: The defending CCHA champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish will open the 2009-10 season this weekend, Oct. 9-10, as they play host to the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers at the Joyce Center. The two teams will faceoff on Friday night at 7:35 p.m. with Saturday’s contest set for 7:05 p.m. Notre Dame begins its 42nd year in Division I hockey and is coming off one of the finest seasons in the program’s history. The Irish were 31-6-3 overall a year ago, and won the CCHA regular-season title with a 21-4-3-3 mark, finishing eight points ahead of second-place Michigan and Miami. Notre Dame then went on to win the CCHA postseason title with wins at Joe Louis Arena over Northern Michigan and Michigan. That put the Irish in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season. There, Notre Dame was upset in the first round as the Irish fell to Bemidji State, 5-1, in the Midwest Regional at Grand Rapids, Mich. Alabama-Huntsville opens its season after going 5-20-5 during 2008-09 with a 3-11-4 record in College Hockey America.

IRISH VERSUS CHARGERS: The two teams have met 18 times in the all-time series with the Irish holding a 9-8-1 all-time edge, including a 6-2-0 mark at the Joyce Center. The last time the two teams met was Nov. 23, 2007, in one of the semifinal games of the Rensselaer Holiday Tournament. The Irish won that game, 4-1, with Ian Cole (Jr., Ann Arbor, Mich.), Ryan Thang (Sr., Edina, Minn.), Ben Ryan (Jr., Brighton, Mich.) and Kevin Deeth (Sr., Gig Harbor, Wash.) scoring in the win. Goaltender Brad Phillips (Jr., Farmington Hills, Mich.) made one of his five starts during his freshman year against the Chargers, making 13 saves in the 4-1 win. The Irish would go on to win that tournament with a 4-3 victory over Rensselaer in the title game.

THE LONGEST GAME: Notre Dame and Alabama-Huntsville played each other in the longest game in Irish hockey history. On March 23, 2007, the two teams met in the opening game of the NCAA Midwest Regionals at Grand Rapids, Mich. The teams played 95:18 before Ryan Thang got the game winner at the 15:18 mark of the second overtime period.

FOR OPENERS: Notre Dame enters this weekend’s home opener with UAH with an all-time record of 20-19-2 in season openers. In home openers, the Irish are 23-17-1.

GETTING THE CALL: Junior goaltender Brad Phillips (Farmington Hills, Mich.) will make his first start in goal for the Irish since Jan. 19, 2008, during his freshman year. The 6-2, 187-pound goaltender was 4-1-0 during the 2007-08 season with a 1.53 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage to go with one shutout. Phillips suffered a knee injury in the preseason last year that required surgery and forced him to miss the entire year. He has faced the Chargers once in his career, making 13 saves in a 4-1 victory in the 2007 Rensselaer Holiday Tournament.

THE TEACHER AND THE PUPILS: Irish head coach Jeff Jackson and Alabama-Huntsville head coach, Danton Cole, and assistant coach Chris Luongo are not strangers to each other. Jackson coached the duo in midget and junior hockey as 16-and-17-year olds in the Detroit area for the Detroit Falcons. All three are graduates of Michigan State University.

BEST OF THE BEST: Over the past three seasons, the Notre Dame hockey program is tops in the nation. Since the start of the 2006-07 campaign, the Irish have won 90 games and own a .742 winning percentage over those three years. Notre Dame leads Michigan (88) in wins and winning percentage (.724). Here are the top five teams by wins and winning percentage since 2006-07.

WINS                   WINNING .PCTNotre Dame  90         Notre Dame (.742)Michigan  88           Michigan (.724)Miami  80              Miami (.680)North Dakota 76        Boston Univ. (.665)Boston University 74   New Hampshire (.661)

OUT OF ACTION: Junior defenseman Teddy Ruth will be out of the Alabama-Huntsville series with a lower body injury.

LOWE’S SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Notre Dame senior captain Ryan Thang has been named one of 20 nominees for the 2009-10 Lowes Senior CLASS Award. The award is given annually to an NCAA Division I student-athlete in nine sports based on achievement’s in the “Four C’s” of classroom, character, community and competition. CLASS is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School. Last season, two members of the Irish hockey team – Erik Condra `09 and Jordan Pearce `09 – were selected as one of 10 finalists for the honor. For the 2007-08 campaign, captain Mark Van Guilder `08 made it to the list of 10 finalists. For the 2006-07 season, goaltender David Brown `07 was selected as the first winner of the hockey award. The list of 20 candidates will be narrowed down midway through the season with the final 10 going on a ballot to select the national winner.

CAPTAINS: Senior left wing Ryan Thang will serve as Notre Dame’s captain for the 2009-10 season. Joining Thang as alternate captains in `09-’10, are senior defenseman Kyle Lawson (New Hudson, Mich.), senior center Kevin Deeth (Gig Harbor, Wash.) and junior defenseman Teddy Ruth (Naperville, Ill.). Thang and Lawson served as alternate captains in 2008-09, while this is the first season as captain for Deeth and Ruth.

SPECIAL SPECIAL TEAMS: During the 2008-09 season, Notre Dame excelled on special teams. The Irish led the nation in power-play percentage, going 51-for-226 for a 22.6% success rate. On the penalty kill, Notre Dame was third overall, giving up just 20 power-play goals in 190 chances for an 89.5% success rate, just .3% behind national leader Yale as the Bulldogs were at 89.8%.

STINGY IRISH: Over the last three seasons, the Irish have been ranked first in the nation twice in lowest goals-against average. For the 2006-07 season, Notre Dame was best in the nation with a 1.67 goals against. The Irish followed that in 2007-08 with a 2.13 goals-against average to rank fifth in the country and last year the goals-against average was best with a 1.73 average.

FAMILY GUYS: Three members of the Notre Dame hockey team – junior goaltender Brad Phillips (Farmington Hills, Mich.) and freshmen forwards Kevin Nugent (New Canaan, Conn.) and Riley Sheahan (St. Catharine’s, Ont.) – have family ties to the Irish athletics program. Phillips’ uncle is former Irish quarterback Terry Andrysiak `89, who played at Notre Dame from 1985 to 1988. Nugent’s father, Kevin Nugent, Sr. `78, played hockey for the Irish between 1974-78, scoring 54 goals with 75 assists for 129 career points. Kevin, Jr., becomes the second Notre Dame hockey player to follow his father to South Bend. He follows goaltender Rory Walsh `06 who followed his father, Brian Walsh `77 who was a teammate of the elder Nugent, playing for coach Lefty Smith. Sheahan is a second cousin of former Irish defenseman Brock Sheahan `08 who played for the Irish from 2004-08.

CLUTCH SCORER: During his first three seasons at Notre Dame, senior left wing Ryan Thang has proven to be a clutch player. In those three seasons, Thang has amassed 13 game-winning goals, getting six in 2006-07, five in 2007-08 and two last season. He is currently tied for the top spot with 13 game-winning goals. That ties him with Rob Globke `04, Brian Urick `99 and Dave Poulin `82, with all three having 13 game winners.

ALL-AMERICANS: Two Notre Dame players were selected AHCA/Reebok All-Americans following the 2008-09 season. Current junior defenseman Ian Cole (Ann Arbor, Mich.) was selected as a first team All-American while right wing Erik Condra `09 was selected second team. That marked the third time in the program’s history that the Irish had two players selected All-American in the same year. The previous times came in 1972-73 when Eddie Bumbacco `74 and Bill Nyrop `74 were chosen and again in 1976-77 when Jack Brownschidle `77 and Brian Walsh `77 were honored.

FULL HOUSE: Notre Dame hockey games were a tough ticket during the 2008-09 season as the Irish had 13 sellouts in 15 home dates and averaged 2,702 fans per game. A sellout at the Joyce Center is 2,713 with 2,857 capacity with standing room. On Jan. 30 versus Michigan, 3,007 fans jammed into the Joyce Center, the largest crowd since March of 1995 when 3,310 saw Notre Dame play Illinois-Chicago. The following season, new seating was installed and capacity was reconfigured.

THE CENTURY MARK: On Friday, March 13, Notre Dame blanked Nebraska 5-0, to give head coach Jeff Jackson his 100th career win at Notre Dame.The 100 wins have come in less than four seasons as Jackson is now 103-47-14 (.671) since starting behind the Irish bench in 2005-06. Notre Dame’s six-man senior class also has that record of 103-47-14 in their four years at Notre Dame and they are the most successful class in the program’s 41-year history.

LEADER OF THE PACK: Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson begins his fifth season behind the Irish bench in 2009-10. In his first four years he has compiled a 103-48-14 (.667) record, highlighted by a 32-7-3 mark in `06-’07, a 27-16-4 record on the way to the first-ever Frozen Four appearance for the Irish in `07-’08 and last year’s 31-6-3 campaign. The `06-’07 CCHA coach-of-the-year and Spencer Penrose Award winner as the national coach-of-the-year, Jackson enters the `09-’10 season with the best winning percentage among Division I coaches with 10 or more years. His current overall record stands at 285-100-39 for a .718 success rate. His 285 wins rank him 12th on the list of active coaches. In six seasons at his previous collegiate stop – Lake Superior State (1990-96) – Jackson’s teams were 182-52-25 with two national championships, two CCHA regular-season titles and four CCHA tournament championships. Included in his 285 career wins are 50 postseason victories (50-15 in postseason) and a .769 winning percentage. In 10 trips to the CCHA postseason, Jackson’s teams are 34-7 (.829).  Those totals include a 24-2 mark at Lake Superior and a 10-5 record at Notre Dame. In those 10 seasons, Jackson has seen his teams advance to the CCHA finals nine times, winning six tournament championships (four at Lake Superior and two at Notre Dame).

DROP THE PUCK: For the fifth year in a row, Notre Dame hockey opened its season with the annual “Drop The Puck Reception” at the Joyce Center for season ticket holders and fans. This year’s event was held on Oct. 6 and featured Garth Snow, the general manager of the New York Islanders. A goaltender with the Islanders from 2001-06, Snow was on Long Island when Jeff Jackson was an assistant coach there. Snow joins Brian Burke, who was the executive vice-president and general manager of the Anaheim Ducks at the time and the G.M. of the 2010 U.S. Olympic hockey team in 2008, Detroit Red Wings’ player and current team vice-president Steve Yzerman (2007), Chicago Black Hawk and Versus/NBC TV analyst Ed Olczyk (2006) and Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman, who handled the honors at the first Drop The Puck reception on Sept. 6, 2005 with over 400 fans in attendance. Bowman, who won nine Stanley Cups in his illustrious coaching career, also was invited by Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis to address his team at practice that day, just four days prior to the upset win at Michigan.

TOURNAMENT TIME: Notre Dame will host the second ever Shillelagh Tournament on Jan. 2-3, 2010 at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The tournament will feature North Dakota, Niagara and Colgate. On Saturday, Jan. 2, North Dakota and Niagara will meet in the 3:05 p.m. (CT) game with the Irish facing Colgate at 6:05 p.m. (CT). On Sunday, Jan. 3, Colgate will face either North Dakota or Niagara at 2:05 p.m. (CT) with Notre Dame playing either the Fighting Sioux or the Purple Eagles at 5:05 p.m. (CT). The Irish won the first tournament last season with 3-1 wins over Union College and Minnesota-Duluth in the championship game.

ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN HONORS: For the first time in the program’s history, two members of the Notre Dame hockey team were selected as ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans on the at-Large team following the 2008-09 season. Senior goaltender Jordan Pearce (Anchorage, Alaska) was selected first team after recording a 3.816 grade-point average in his double major of anthropology/pre-med. For Pearce, it marked the second consecutive year that he was named Academic All-American after taking second team honors in `07-’08. He was joined by fellow senior Erik Condra (Livonia, Mich.) who was a second team selection after turning in a 3.55 grade point with a double major in psychology and pre-med. Pearce became the second Irish player to be named twice as he joined Steve Noble `98 who was selected in 1997 (first team) and 1998 (second team). The Irish have had six players all-time named Academic All-American as Condra and Pearce are joined by Dan Carlson `01 (third team), Andy Jurkowski `00 (third team), Forrest Karr `99 (second team) and Noble in `97 and `98.

CLOSE ONES: During the 2008-09 season, Notre Dame was 11-2 (.846) in games decided by one goal and 6-1 in games decided by two goals. In overtime, the Irish were 2-0-3 with the team winning all three overtime games in the CCHA shootout. Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Northern The .846 winning percentage is third best behind a pair of undefeated years – `87-’88 (6-0) and `68-’69 (4-0).