Sept. 19, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame head coach Dave Poulin has signed a multi-year contract to continue as coach of the Fighting Irish hockey program.
“Our motivation to sign Dave to a new, multi-year contract is simply based on the fact he is one of the very best coaches in the country,” says Irish athletic director Kevin White.
“We are proactively protecting our investment. We strongly believe Irish hockey is clearly moving in the right direction and we are most confident we have just the right leader at the helm.”
Poulin in 2000 took his fifth Irish team to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals (after defeating Ferris State in a first-round series) for the first time since 1982 — when Poulin played for the Irish. His 1998-99 Notre Dame unit finished 19-14-5, spent most of the season in the top 10 of the national polls and barely missed an NCAA championship invitation. The Irish that season played host to conference playoff games for the first time since ’82. That squad rose as high as fourth in the national polls, with the highlights including a 5-5 tie at Boston College and a 4-3 win at North Dakota (both teams were top ranked at the time). Poulin that year was a finalist for both CCHA and national coach-of-the-year honors.
His third season in 1997-98 saw the Irish improve 15 points in the CCHA standings, ranking as the sixth-best turnaround by a league team in the 1990s.
Twelve of Poulin’s Notre Dame players have been selected in the NHL draft, including six players that he has recruited. The most noteworthy additions during the Poulin era have included recently-graduated center Ben Simon (a fifth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in ’97), current junior center David Inman (a second-round pick in ’99 by the New York Rangers) and defenseman Mark Eaton, who signed a lucrative free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Flyers after earning CCHA rookie-of-the-year honors in ’97-’98 (Eaton is considered among the top prospects in the Flyers organization).
The Irish have made steady strides in the win column and in key statistical areas during the Poulin era, ranking as the CCHA’s least-penalized teams for several years and as one of the league’s top performers in special-teams situations. Defensively, Notre Dame recently set the team record for goals-against average in successive seasons (2.74 in 1997-98, 2.60 in ’98-’99).
The highly-regarded Notre Dame recruiting effort during the Poulin era has yielded eight players on the 2000-01 Irish roster who are products of the USA Hockey National Development Program–currently the most NDP products playing at any one school.
Poulin’s players also have excelled off the ice, with Notre Dame ranking as the nation’s only Division I hockey program to produce an Academic All-American in each of the past four seasons.
Poulin, who took over the Irish program beginning with the 1995-96 season, ranks as one of the top names in Notre Dame hockey annals after earning four monograms as a player and serving as a two-time Irish captain. A finalist as a senior in ’82 for the Hobey Baker national p layer-of-the-year award, Poulin still shares Notre Dame records for career hat tricks (eight) and game-winning goals (13).
The Timmins, Ontario, native played 12 seasons in the National Hockey League, earning all-star status in 1986 and ’88 and helping three of his teams to the Stanley Cup finals (Philadelphia in ’85 and ’87, Boston in ’90). He captained the Flyers from 1984-90, won the Frank K. Selke Trophy in 1987 as the NHL’s best defensive forward — and in ’93 received the King Clancy Trophy presented to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice.
He also played for Washington in the NHL before retiring to take the head coaching position at Notre Dame.