UMD to open hockey season with top-ranked Notre DameAfter basking in hockey’s spotlight Wednesday afternoon, Notre Dame arrives in Duluth today. The glare, however, won’t dim at Amsoil Arena.
By: Kevin Pates, Duluth News Tribune
After basking in hockey’s spotlight Wednesday afternoon, Notre Dame arrives in Duluth today. The glare, however, won’t dim at Amsoil Arena.
Top-ranked Notre Dame of South Bend, Ind., faces defending Division I champion Minnesota Duluth in a mega-series to open 2011-12 in 7:07 p.m. games Friday and Saturday.
The Fighting Irish, in a news conference at their new 5,200-seat, $55 million on-campus Compton Family Ice Arena, announced joining Hockey East for 2013-14. Also announced was a contract with NBC Sports Network (currently Versus) to televise every Fighting Irish home game, unprecedented in the college game.
Notre Dame had been asked to join the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, but when the Fighting Irish took their time deciding, the NCHC left them behind.
“Everyone is in such a hurry. Decisions like this go all the way to the university president. Decisions like this aren’t made quickly,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said by phone earlier this week.
For the next two years, however, Notre Dame remains in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The league’s media and coaches picked the Fighting Irish to win the 2012 CCHA regular-season title. Last season, a young Notre Dame team finished second in the CCHA, two points behind Michigan, then went on to the Frozen Four, losing to UMD 4-3 in the semifinals at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center. Jackson’s team led 1-0 and 2-1, and outshot UMD 34-21.
A slightly older Notre Dame, with 11 sophomores, is a force as nine of last season’s top 12 scorers return. Sophomores T.J. Tynan and Anders Lee, from Edina, Minn., lead the way.
In 44 years of varsity hockey, Notre Dame had never started the season ranked No. 1, until this year. UMD is No. 8.
“We certainly overachieved in some ways last year as our young guys showed they could compete and play,” said Jackson, 323-131-52 entering his seventh season at Notre Dame after coaching Lake Superior State for six years. “We have the potential to be a good offensive team.”
Notre Dame was considered a must-have member when the NCHC was formed in July, yet the league will start in 2013-14 with eight teams, including UMD. Notre Dame will become the 11th member of Hockey East, joining schools like Boston College, Boston University, Maine and New Hampshire. How coveted is the Notre Dame name?
“It is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most significant days in the history of our conference,” Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said in a statement Wednesday. “The addition of new institutions is always exciting, but Notre Dame brings a unique set of qualities and circumstances to the continued growth of our league.”
Amsoil Arena snubbed for 2013 West Regional
DECC officials had made a bid to host the 2013 Division I men’s West Regional at Amsoil Arena, yet was bypassed when the NCAA announced sites Wednesday.
The four sites, for games March 29-31, 2013 are East Regional in Providence, R.I.; Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H.; Midwest Regional in Toledo, Ohio; and the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The 2012 sites are the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn.; Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass.; Midwest Regional in Green Bay, Wis.; and West Regional in St. Paul.
Skate with UMD women Sunday
The UMD women’s team will hold a Skate with the Bulldogs following Sunday’s 3:07 p.m. game against Boston College at Amsoil Arena at approximately 5:15 p.m. The Bulldogs will skate with fans for about 20 minutes and sign autographs. Free schedule-posters will be available. A helmet is required for all skaters under the age of 18.