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Seven Former Irish Players Open Season On NHL Rosters

Oct. 4, 2017

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The National Hockey League opens its 101st season (100th season of play) on Wednesday night (Oct. 4) and the University of Notre Dame boasts seven alumni on six NHL rosters to kick off the 2017-18 season.

The former Fighting Irish hockey players include forwards Riley Sheahan (Detroit Red Wings); Anders Lee (New York Islanders), Anders Bjork (Boston Bruins), Kyle Palmieri (New Jersey Devils) and Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh Penguins) as well as defensemen Stephen Johns (Dallas Stars) and Ian Cole (Pittsburgh Penguins).

Rust and Cole, along with the rest of the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, take on the St. Louis Blues at 8 p.m. ET in one of the four opening night games. Prior to the game, the Penguins will unveil a Stanley Cup Championship banner for the second consecutive season.

After helping lead the Irish to the 2017 Frozen Four, Bjork looks poised to make his NHL debut at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday against the Nashville Predators. Bjork, a 2017 second team All-American, skated on Boston’s top line during much of the preseason.

Bruins tie it up on the 5-on-3. Might have gone off Cave, or might just be BJORK BJORK BJORK.

– Dan Ryan (@bruinshockeynow) September 19, 2017

Palmieri, one of three Notre Dame hockey players to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft (the others being Ian Cole and Riley Sheahan), is back in action with the New Jersey Devils at 2 p.m. ET Saturday as they take on the Colorado Avalanche in their season opener. Palmieri has been one of New Jersey’s most consistent players over the previous two campaigns. He is slated to skate on the top line and on the No. 1 power play unit this season after having notched 57 points in 2016-17 and 26 goals in 2015-16.

Sheahan and the Detroit Red Wings start the 2017-18 season at 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday as they take on the Minnesota Wild. This marks the center’s seventh season with Detroit after having played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Notre Dame. Sheahan notched 22 points during his sophomore year in 2010-11, when the team made it to the Frozen Four in the NCAA tournament.

The New York Islanders return to the regular-season rink at 7 p.m. ET Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets as Anders Lee also looks poised for a place on the Islanders’ top line after scoring a career-high 34 goals during the 2016-17 season.

Stephen Johns already tallied three assists for the Dallas Stars in just six preseason games. The defenseman kicks off his third season with Dallas as the Stars take the ice at 8:30 p.m. ET Friday against the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion team’s first ever regular-season game.

Notre Dame alum Erik Condra is currently on injured reserve for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who begin the 2017-18 season at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday as they go head-to-head with their in-state rival the Florida Panthers.

Last season, a program-record ten former Notre Dame hockey players played in the NHL during the 2016-17 season (nine was the previous high in 2011-12). On March 7 2017, Robbie Russo (Detroit) and T.J. Tynan (Columbus) made their NHL debuts, becoming the 15th and 16th former Irish players under Jeff Jackson to play in the NHL.

— ND —