Aug. 16, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After an All-American senior season with the University of Notre Dame hockey team, 2015 graduate Robbie Russo signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League on Sunday (Aug. 16).
“I’m excited and proud to be part of the Red Wings organization,” Russo stated. “It’s been a dream of mine to play in the NHL and this is a step in the right direction.”
“We are excited Robbie has earned the opportunity to join such a great organization,” Irish Head Coach Jeff Jackson said. “He certainly fits the type of player the Red Wings like to develop and he has showcased a deep understanding and awareness of the game over his last four seasons at Notre Dame.”
Russo capped an impressive Irish career by earning AHCA/CCM Second Team All-America (East) and First Team All-Hockey East honors this past season. In 40 games as a senior, he scored 15 goals and added 26 assists for 41 points, ranking second on the team in all three categories. His 15 goals tied for the national lead among defensemen and his 41 points ranked second nationally among blue liners.
Russo’s 41 points were the most by a Hockey East defenseman since at least the 2000-01 season. He also became the fifth Irish defenseman to earn All-America honors, joining Bill Nyrop (1973), Jack Brownschidle (19776 and 1977), Benoit Cotnoir (1999) and current Pittsburgh Penguin Ian Cole (2009).
“Robbie had a great senior season, we are proud and happy for him,” Jackson added. “We are looking forward to watching him take full advantage of his opportunity with Detroit.”
“Signing [with Detroit] would not have been possible without my time at Notre Dame,” Russo continued. “The coaching staff gave me a ton of opportunities and helped me grow as a player and person. I can’t thank my Irish teammates enough. They made my time there special and any success I had personally was because of my teammates. Notre Dame really helped me get to this point in my hockey career.”
As a senior, Russo served as a mentor to a young defenseman corps that often dressed three freshmen among its six members. He was awarded a captain’s “C” on Feb. 12 in recognition for his diligent work and leadership throughout the first three quarters of the season. On Jan. 18 at UConn, he notched the only hat trick in the nation by a defenseman in 2014-15 when he scored three times in a 6-1 Irish victory over the Huskies. It marked the first hat trick by a Notre Dame defenseman since Feb. 20, 1988 when Frank O’Brien scored three times against Lake Forest, before the Irish became a full-fledged Division I program.
In 142 career games with Notre Dame, Russo scored 28 goals and added 66 assists for 94 points. He was a leader on the Notre Dame power play and finished his career with 14 power-play goals. He also added three shorthanded goals and five game winners.
A fourth round selection (95th overall) by the New York Islanders in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Russo became a free agent after not signing with the Islanders by the Aug. 15 deadline.
Russo joins a Detroit organization with several ties to the Notre Dame program, including former players Brett Lebda and Riley Sheahan. Lebda, a defenseman, played for Detroit from 2005-10 after playing four seasons at Notre Dame. In 2007-08 with the Red Wings, he played a career-high 78 games and went on to play 18 playoff games, helping the Red Wings to the 2008 Stanley Cup. Sheahan, currently a forward with Detroit, signed with the Red Wings after playing three seasons at Notre Dame from 2009-12. He was a first round selection (21st overall) by the Red Wings in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and played the 2011-12 season with Russo at Notre Dame.
— by Dan Colleran, Athletics Communications Associate Director