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HOCKEY: Poulin resigns following season

Bobby Griffin | Friday, May 13, 2005

After a 5-27-6 season which resulted in Irish coach Dave Poulin stepping down as head coach to take a front office position, Notre Dame has responded by going in a different direction.

Jeff Jackson was named as Notre Dame’s head hockey coach on May 6, becoming the fourth head coach in the modern era of Irish hockey.

Jackson brings an impressive resume to South Bend. Jackson coached Lake Superior State to three straight trips to the NCAA Championship game from 1992-1994, winning the title in 1992 and 1994.

During his time at Lake Superior State, Jackson also took his team to six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

Jackson moved on to the professional ranks after his time at Lake Superior, coaching the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League. He coached there until two seasons ago, when he became an assistant coach for the New York Islanders.

Jackson takes over a team that appeared in the NCAA tournament in the 2003-2004 season. However, last year the Irish had trouble scoring goals all season and finished last in the CCHA. The team was winless in the last 19 games of the season.

Irish players are already excited about Jackson and his previous experience coming into this season.

“I think its great,” rising junior forward Josh Sciba said. “He’s coming from a tremendous background so there’s nothing that we can complain about at all.”

In his press conference, Jackson was very direct about his expectations for turning around the Irish program – noting that he has to examine where the team is before taking the next step and giving respect to those who came before him.

“I need to evaluate where we are and what we need to do,” Jackson said to und.com. “I sincerely believe that there’s a tradition here stemming back from the days of Coach [Lefty] Smith and Coach [Ric] Schafer, and I think when the CCHA entered Notre Dame back into their league and Dave Poulin came here, I think it took another step.”

Jackson stressed that discipline and hard work are keys to having a successful hockey team. It is that attitude the new coach will bring to his young players.

“I really believe it’s all about work ethic and discipline,” Jackson told und.com. “You have to get the players here who can play, but then it’s all about work ethic and discipline. The old saying is ‘search for eagles and then teach them to fly in formation.'”

Players agree that hard work will be needed to turn around the Irish fortunes next year, and Jackson has already addressed this in his one meeting with the team.

“Before we left, [Jackson] had a meeting with us,” Sciba said. “He wants us to work on our conditioning and basically be prepared for when we come back in the fall. We can be a contender in our league again and not be in the basement of our league again.

“From the time he came out, everybody was in awe and in shock. His demeanor is very serious, upbeat … passionate about his job. Everyone liked the way he responded and acted in that meeting.”

The new coach will inherit a team that is young, only graduating three seniors this season. Captain Cory McLean, Joe Zurenko and goalie Morgan Cey will graduate this weekend.