Feb. 2, 2012


The Notre Dame Monogram Club and the Irish hockey program will celebrate the life of former head coach Charles “Lefty” Smith and all the people that he had an impact on the weekend of Feb. 3-4 with “Lefty Fest.” Members of his family, friends and former players will be returning to the Notre Dame campus for the weekend.


Friday, Feb. 3

7:05 p.m. – Notre Dame vs. Bowling Green, Post-game Alumni Reception at Legends

Saturday, Feb. 4

1:00 p.m. – Alumni Hockey Game (open to public), Compton Family Ice Arena

2:00 to 3:00 p.m. – Tours of Compton Family Ice Arena and Lefty Smith Rink for Hockey Alumni, Family and Friends

2:30 to 3:30 p.m. – Open Skating at Compton Family Ice Arena for Hockey Alumni, Family and Friends

3:45 p.m. – Mass at Joyce Center Fieldhouse

4:15 p.m. – Dinner in the Monogram Room at Joyce Center

7:05 p.m. – Notre Dame vs. Bowling Green

Over 60 of Lefty Smith’s former players are planning on attending. Leading a round table discussion at the dinner will be former players – Mike Collins `70, Don Lucia `81, Greg Meredith `80 and Brian Walsh `77. Prior to Friday night’s game, Lefty Smith’s children will drop the ceremonial first puck. On Saturday, members of the Boler and McCormack families, whose generosity made the Lefty Smith Rink possible, will drop the ceremonial first puck. Between the first and second period of Saturday’s game, former players, trainers, managers and support staff from the Lefty Smith coaching era will be recognized on the ice.

Lefty’s Legacy

Charles “Lefty” Smith started the Notre Dame hockey program in 1968 and served as head coach for 19 years, retiring in 1987 with 307 career wins. Under his tutelage, Notre Dame produced six All-Americans — Eddie Bumbacco (1973), Bill Nyrop (1973), Jack Brownschidle (1976, 1977), Brian Walsh(1977), Greg Meredith (1980) and Kirt Bjork(1983)–and finished second in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) twice (1972-73, 1976-77). He was named WCHA coach of the year following the1972-73 season.

In 1981-82, the Irish moved to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) where Smith guided the Irish to the Great Lakes Invitational Championship and the CCHA championship game that season. Among players on that team was former Irish head coach Dave Poulin (current vice president of hockey operations for the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs). Smith remained the head coach through the 1986-87 season and retiredwith a career record of 307-320-30.

In his 19 seasons, all 126 players who played for him completed their collegiate eligibility and earned college degrees. Smith served two years as president of the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) and also coached the Central team at the 1978 National Sports Festival. Eight members of that team would go on to be members of the gold-medal winning 1980 United States Olympic team. In 1992 he was inducted into the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame and in 2003 was named a “Legend of Hockey” by the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation.

Smith and longtime Irish assistant Tim McNeill combined to start the Irish Youth Hockey League that first brought youth hockey to the South Bend area. Born Jan. 5, 1930, Smith got his start in coaching in South St. Paul, Minn., where he was instrumental in developing the fabled South St. Paul high school program before moving to South Bend.

A 1951 graduate of St. Thomas University, where he was a standout hockey and baseball player, Smith became an assistant coach at South St. Paul in 1953 and took over as head coach in 1958. He remained there until 1968, turning in a record of201-69-11 before leaving to start the hockey program at Notre Dame.

Smith and his late wife Mickey (Mary McNally of New Richmond, Wis.) are the parents of seven living children (the Smiths were preceded in death by a son Greg), 16 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

— ND —