New faces to play key roles for ND
Isaac Lorton | Monday, September 29, 2014
After graduating 11 seniors last season, Notre Dame brought in 10 new faces to Notre Dame and Compton Family Ice Arena. At Monday’s media day, Irish coach Jeff Jackson said the influx of young players will not affect Notre Dame’s recent and consistent success.
“Our culture has been strong enough over the last several years that the freshmen come in and the culture becomes part of them,” Jackson said. “The returning guys are involved with the [freshmen] over the summer, and they did a good job with them. We have a good group of seniors and a real strong junior class. … They want to continue having success. They don’t want to take a nose dive this year because we are young.”Notre Dame had its first trial in the Hockey East Conference last season, finishing in eighth place at 9-9-2. Despite the .500 in-conference record, the Irish managed to make it to the NCAA tournament, where they were knocked out in the first round by St. Cloud State, 4-3, in sudden-death overtime to end their season at 23-15-2. Notre Dame will head into its second season with a little more knowledge about how things run in Hockey East this time around, Jackson said.
“We really need to prepare for the Hockey East schedule,” Jackson said. “I’m not sure we were as prepared as we needed to be last year for what we are gonna face in Hockey East. I think we will have a little bit better idea of what we’re gonna have to face this year. Although we’re gonna go to five totally new buildings, so it will be as challenging [as last year] on the road, without question. But we will have a better understanding of how certain teams play.”
With the hole left by the senior class migration, many positions are still up in the air and freshmen will have to inevitably fill them, Jackson said.
“Its hard to say which [freshmen] will be ready to step up into those roles right away,” Jackson said. “We can certainly anticipate which guys might be able to step in and be able to play more significant minutes, maybe special teams minutes. They’re gonna have to for the most part because there is so many of them. All the freshmen are capable. Some are projected to be more projects, but we have high expectations for two or three of the forwards and two or three of the defensemen to step in and contribute right away in key situations.”
Similar to the large incoming class four years ago, 10 freshmen began classes and workouts over the summer in order to prepare for the upcoming season as members of the program. Jackson said the experience four years ago informed him of what he may expect from this group.
“Reflecting back on that time, obviously it is a different group of kids, so you’re never sure if it’s going to be similar or not,” Jackson said, “But it took a little bit longer from an adjustment standpoint early on in the year to get that chemistry that we rely upon to be successful. But on the other side of that, that group was energetic. That was actually one of our more fun years, as coaches. There was so much enthusiasm and energy from the young guys because they invigorated us as coaches and the upperclassmen.”
The large freshman class will be captained by junior center Stephen Fogarty, while junior left wing Sam Herr and senior right wing Peter Schneider will take on the roles of alternate captains.
The Irish kick off their season in an exhibition game against Waterloo on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. and begin their regular against Rensselaer in the Ice Breaker Tournament, starting Oct. 10.