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Irish hockey seniors talk Senior Night, series with Ohio State

| Friday, February 10, 2023

Amidst a heated race for postseason positioning, a milestone will take place on Saturday for Notre Dame hockey: Senior Night.

After Notre Dame dons the striking ‘Irish Green’ jerseys to skate in their final regular-season home game against No. 7 Ohio State, the team will honor its 10 seniors and graduate students in a ceremony on the ice.  

“For me, it’s more about the people than it is the hockey players,” Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said of his senior class. “They’ve been good players for us, but they’ve also been good people.”

The group of 10 come from all different hockey experiences. Four players are four-year members of the team: forward Solag Bakich, goaltender Ryan Bischel, forward Trevor Janicke and forward Jesse Lansdell. Captain Nick Leivermann is in his fifth year with the Irish.

Meanwhile, the Irish senior class also includes a number of transfers. Defenseman Chase Blackmun and forward Jack Adams are in their second year at Notre Dame. Defenseman Ben Brinkman, forward Jackson Pierson and forward Chayse Primeau are all one-year graduate student transfers.

The common denominator for all of them is how meaningful the experience of playing at Notre Dame has been.

“Wearing the Notre Dame crest, it really hits you that [this is] bigger than ourselves, it’s bigger than even the team as a whole. It’s [about] this community, the school, everything,” said Blackmun, who transferred from UMass Lowell before last season. “To be part of that is really, really special. I get goosebumps thinking about it.”

Chayse Primeau agrees. After a four-year career at Nebraska-Omaha, Primeau was recruited to Notre Dame for his fifth and final year of eligibility. 

“When I got the call from Notre Dame, I got butterflies,” said Primeau. “I had the opportunity to come on and visit and I just fell in love with this place. I think I committed the day after. You can tell right when you get on campus, it’s a special feeling.”

For Dallas, Texas native Solag Bakich, the experience has another level of meaning. A four-year member of the Irish team, Bakich’s roots run deep at Notre Dame. His father, Huntley, was a linebacker for the Fighting Irish football team under head coach Lou Holtz, and his mother and uncle both attended the university. Bakich was even baptized in the log chapel.

“It was always Notre Dame first. I always wanted to go to Notre Dame,” said Bakich. “Once I started going the hockey route, my dream was always to play college hockey for the Irish. There wasn’t really a plan B.”

Bakich will play games 102 and 103 in an Irish sweater this weekend. Each game has been a dream come true and a lesson in perseverance. 

“My dream my entire life has been to play at Notre Dame, and to be able to play here for four years and to accomplish my goal has shown me that I’m capable of anything I set my mind to,” Bakich said.

Right now, the Irish hockey seniors all have their minds set on a big weekend series against Ohio State and their hopes of returning to the NCAA Tournament. Asked what a potential tournament berth would mean for his team, Bakich was all business. 

“It means everything. I think everybody says, ‘leave it all on the ice’, but you’re going to have to scrape us off the ice,” Bakich said. “We’re going to do everything we possibly can to win.”

Only four games remain in the regular season for the Irish. After taking on the Buckeyes, Notre Dame will have a bye weekend before traveling to Ann Arbor to face No. 5 Michigan in their final two games of the season.

“We’re in the position to control our own destiny,” Blackmun said. “We realize that if we win these big games against Ohio State and then Michigan, we can kind of change the course of our season right now.”

A season-defining weekend — and a career-culminating moment — is just around the corner for Notre Dame’s senior class. 

The puck drops on Friday night at 7:30 p.m, and Saturday at 6 p.m. After Saturday’s game, the Senior Night festivities will take place. All 10 seniors will be recognized, as will senior hockey managers Mae Irvine and Meghan Alexander. Students are encouraged to remain following the alma mater to watch the celebrations, which will take place in front of the student section.

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