Hockey: Media Day kicks off new season
Conor Kelly | Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The Irish hockey season opened with media day on Monday in anticipation of Notre Dame’s exhibition Sunday against the United States National Team Development Program’s under-18 team.
After leading the Irish in goals and serving as alternate captain last season, junior forward Anders Lee was named as the team’s lone captain for the 2011-2012 season by Irish coach Jeff Jackson. With just four seniors on the team, Lee and the 12-man junior class will be counted on for leadership after a season in which a slump to end the year kept the Irish out of the NCAA tournament.
“Anytime your captain is one of your best players, it certainly helps to have a guy who’s your leader doing the job off the ice, in the classroom and pretty much in every aspect,” Jackson said. “I’m expecting Anders to have a great year for us.”
Though he served as an alternate captain for graduated seniors Billy Maday and Sean Lorenz, Lee said that he is excited and humbled to serve as the team’s lone captain this season.
“It’s an honor. It’s really cool to have the support of my teammates and coaches in the locker room,” Lee said. “I’m one of many leaders on this team. We’ve got great upperclassmen that will help me in that regard, and we’re ready to get this season going.”
In addition to Lee, Jackson has designated a seven-man leadership group made up of the four seniors and three members of the junior class who will work with Lee and Jackson throughout the year.
“[Nick] Larson, [Stephen] Johns, [Jeff] Costello [and Kevin] Nugent and the others are all guys that have been here before and know how it works around here,” Lee said. “That’s why they’re leaders on this team.”
In addition to his move to sole ownership of the team’s captaincy, Lee will adjust to a move to center after spending his first two years on the wing. After Lee notched 34 points last season playing alongside junior center T.J. Tynan, Jackson moved Lee to the middle and split the pair up in order to gain much-needed depth at the position.
“It’s going to give him an opportunity to skate the full distance of the ice and make plays offensively and defensively,” Jackson said. “It was about not wanting to have our second- and third-line centers being freshmen. With Anders and T.J. both being juniors, it gives us a lot of experience up the middle.”
Though he hasn’t played the position at the collegiate level, Lee spent most of his hockey career at center prior to coming to Notre Dame. Lee said that he is comfortable with his new position and with seeing former line-mate Tynan centering on another line.
“It’s something that comes naturally to me, something that I’ve been doing my whole life,” Lee said. “It’s a matter of finding a position where I can help this team out. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. … T.J. is a great player and we fed off each other a lot, and I know he’s going to be great, and I know I will too.”
Jackson also tabbed junior goaltender Steven Summerhays as the starter going into the season. Summerhays played the majority of games for the Irish down the stretch last year after working in a platoon with senior goaltender Mike Johnson for most of the season. Jackson said that though Summerhays has the early edge, he will need to show consistency if he is to hold off Johnson.
“Steven won some big games for us in the last six weeks of the season and had a .930 save percentage, so he goes in as the number one,” Jackson said. “He won’t play all the games, but he will get the bulk of the games early on. He needs to show that he can play with the consistency that he did at the end of last year.”
Summerhays, who came to school lighter and in better shape than last year, said he hopes to build off the success at the end of last year.
“I had some success last year which I want to carry over into this year, but I’m still approaching this season like I have the last two,” Summerhays said. “I want to earn every game I get.”