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Hockey: Recruits sign for Fall 2009

Matt Gamber | Friday, November 21, 2008

Irish coach Jeff Jackson locked up five recruits Thursday that will arrive at Notre Dame next fall, continuing the tradition of strong recruiting that Jackson has developed since arriving in 2005.

Defensemen Sam Calabrese and Cam Fowler join forwards Kyle Palmieri, Nick Larson and Riley Sheahan to form one of the most highly touted five-man recruiting classes in the nation.

“We’re very excited about this group of players and have been waiting a long time for their arrival,” Jackson said in making the announcement. “This class is as good a class as we’ve ever had at Notre Dame. They will definitely be one of the elite recruiting classes in the country.”

While Larson was selected by Calgary in the fourth round (108th overall) of last year’s NHL draft, two of his future classmates have been tabbed as “Players to Watch” by the NHL.

Given an “A” rating, Palmieri was classified as a “Must See player” and a projected first or second round draft pick. Calabrese was given a “C” rating as a potential late-round choice.

Both Fowler and Sheahan are not eligible for the 2009 NHL Draft but are expected be to be first-round choices in 2010, a und.com release said.

Calabrese is a 5-foot-10, 170-pound, right-handed defenseman who has four assists in 19 games with the national team this year. He joined the Team USA program after recording 10 goals and 62 assists in 70 games with Team Illinois in 2006-07.

“Sam is a very mobile defenseman with excellent offensive instincts who has improved his defensive game over the last two seasons,” Jackson said.

At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Fowler brings sound offensive skills and a powerful left-handed shot to the defensive unit. He has three goals and 11 assists in 19 games under the US Under-18 team this season and tallied two goals and 12 assists in 59 games for the Under-17 squad last season.

“Cam is a dynamic player at the defense position,” Jackson said. “He’ll be a great power-play quarterback and potentially is as talented a defenseman as we’ve ever had at Notre Dame.”

Palmieri, the final member of the Team USA trio, is a 5-foot-10, 180-pound right wing who moved up to the Under-18 squad midway through last season after starting the campaign with the Under-17 team. He totaled 29 goals and 19 assists in 66 games between the two teams last year, and has five goals and four assists through 19 games this season.

“Kyle is a dynamic player who plays with a lot of jam. He’s a offensively skilled with excellent hockey instincts and is a fierce competitor,” Jackson said. “Kyle is one of those players that makes things happen on the ice.”

At 6-foot-2 and 203 pounds, Larson is a prototypical, physical left wing who is a factor in front of the net. Last season, he played alongside current Irish freshman forward Billy Maday with the Waterloo Black Hawks, when he totaled 19 goals and 19 assists in the regular season and added three goals and two assists in the playoffs.

“Nick plays well without the pouck and knows how to put himself in position to score,” Jackson said. “He’s got a good shot with a quick release and is at his best when he plays with a physical edge.”

A second cousin of former Irish defenseman Brock Sheahan, who graduated last year, Ryan Sheahan is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound center who is a quick, skilled offensive threat. His team, the St. Catharines Falcons, lead their division, and he leads the squad with 17 goals and 31 assists in 24 games – that’s two points a game.

“Riley will be a dynamic player at the collegiate level,” Jackson said. “He’s got all the tools. He’s as complete a player as we’ve recruited from an offensive perspective, and yet he’s not afraid to get his nose dirty.”

While the Irish are surely looking forward to the arrival of their five future teammates, this year’s installment of Notre Dame hockey will begin a home-and-home weekend series with Bowling Green tonight.

The No. 5 Irish (7-3-1, 3-2-1-1 CCHA) host the Falcons (5-5-2, 4-3-1-0 CCHA) at 7:35 p.m. tonight before the same two teams meet tomorrow night in Bowling Green, Ohio.