Jan. 19, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After a weekend where he scored five points, including the nation’s only hat trick this season by a defenseman, helping the Irish take three out of four points from UConn, Notre Dame’s Robbie Russo was named the Hockey East Warrior Hockey Player of the Week on Monday.
Russo’s hat trick in Sunday’s 6-1 win over UConn was the first by a Notre Dame blueliner since Feb. 20, 1988 when Frank O’Brien lit the lamp thrice against Lake Forest. It marked the first hat trick by a Hockey East defenseman since at least the 2011-12 season. The last hat trick by a Division I defenseman nationally came on Feb. 8, 2014, when Spiro Goulakos of Colgate scored three goals against Cornell. Russo also scored and added an assist on the equalizing goal during the third period of Friday night’s 3-3 tie against the Huskies, giving Russo four goals and an assist on the weekend for five points, accompanied by a plus-four rating.
Russo’s 11 goals and 24 points this season both lead all defensemen nationally. With two months of hockey left to play, Russo’s 11 goals are already tied for the ninth-most by a Hockey East defenseman since the 2002-03 season. Russo is already the first Notre Dame defenseman to score at least 10 goals in a season since 1997-98 when both Mark Eaton (12) and Benoit Cotnoir (10) broke the double-digit barrier.
This offense has not come at the expense of defense for Russo. His plus-14 rating (on a team with merely a plus-five season goal differential) ties teammate Jordan Gross for seventh in Hockey East and second among league defensemen.
It is Russo’s second weekly award of the year from Hockey East after being named its Defensive Player of the Week on Dec. 8 for his performance in a weekend sweep of Massachusetts.
The Irish stand in fifth place in the Hockey East standings at 10-11-3 on the year and 5-2-3 in league action. The Irish head to Boston this weekend for a pair of games against seventh-place Northeastern (8-11-4, 4-7-2 HE). The puck will drop at 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday nights at historic Matthews Arena.