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Hockey: ND faces Guelph in exhibition

Sam Werner | Friday, October 1, 2010

­­Notre Dame’s preseason game against University of Guelph Sunday may not count in the standings, but Irish coach Jeff Jackson said his team’s showdown against the Gryphons will play an important role in preparing the Irish for games down the road.

“It’s going to be a good evaluation to see our freshmen for the most part,” Jackson said. “I think it’ll also be good to at least get into some semblance of game-shape both physically and mentally.”

The freshmen Jackson will be evaluating are defensemen Jared Beers, Stephen Johns, Kevin Lind and Shayne Taker and forwards Jeff Costello, David Gerths, Anders Lee, Bryan Rust, T.J. Tynan and Michael Voran, as well as goaltenders Joe Rogers and Steven Summerhays.

In net, Jackson indicated that probable starter sophomore Mike Johnson would split time with Summerhays and possibly Rogers.

“We’ll see more than one goalie, that’s for sure,” Jackson said.

Jackson said when he was evaluating the freshmen in game action, it was more about intangibles than their physical skills.

“You’re watching to see how they compete, how hard they work,” he said. “You know the basics about them because you recruited them, so this is more about seeing how they fit into your style of play. It’s going to be about seeing who wants to be in the lineup next weekend. That’s what it really boils down to.”

Especially this season, Jackson said it’s important that he and the coaching staff have a chance to evaluate the younger players. Given the number of players Notre Dame lost to graduation and the NHL last season, a number of younger players will be forced into action on a nightly basis.

“A number of freshmen are going to be playing, and it’s just a matter of which ones and also which ones are going to play over returning guys,” Jackson said. “There’s no question that, on average, we’re probably going to have eight or nine or ten freshmen every game.”

Jackson said his team is playing the Gryphons primarily because of a personal connection with Guelph coach Shawn Camp. Jackson and Camp coached together with the OHL’s Guelph Storm from 2000-2003.

“It’ll be a nice opportunity for [Guelph’s] kids to get down there, see campus, see Division I college hockey,” Jackson said.

The Irish will have a limited number of practices before taking the ice Sunday, so Jackson emphasized that while they’ll definitely be ready to go, the preseason was more about finding what works.

“It’ll just be a chance for us to look at different combinations of players, whether it’s forwards or defensive pairings,” he said. “There’s some benefit for getting a game under our belt before we start Division I play.”