by Tim Rosenthal/Staff Writer
Head Coach: Jeff Jackson
2006-07 record: 32-7-3 (21-4-3 CCHA); Conference RS and tournament champions
Key Returnees: Mark Van Guilder F SR., Erik Condra F JR., Garrett Regan F JR., Jordan Pearce G JR., Ryan Thang F SO., Kyle Lawson D SO.
Key Losses: David Brown (Hobey Baker Finalist), T. J. Jindra, Wes O'Neill, Tom Sawatske, Jason Paige, Noah Babin, Josh Sciba, Michael Bartlett
"It was a turnaround year for our program," said third-year head coach Jeff Jackson about his 2006-07 Notre Dame hockey squad. "I was not quite sure it was anticipated."
After the 2005-06 season, people knew the Irish would be better, but almost no one knew that they would dominate the CCHA. Part of it was thanks to the Hobey Baker finalist in net David Brown and the defense surrounding him.
Though Notre Dame ultimately was disappointed to fall short of the Frozen Four, it was hard to complain about the season in retrospect.
"Several players came into their own," said Jackson.
A few names he mentioned were last year's freshmen duo of forwards Kevin Deeth (17 goals, 22 assists) and Ryan Thang (20 g, 21 a) who were both in the top three on the team in scoring. Jackson also noted Mark Van Guilder (18 g, 16 a) and defenseman Kyle Lawson who should improve in 2007-08.
Last year, the goaltending position was in possession of Brown. He has graduated and the team is now faced with a goaltending situation between junior Jordan Pearce, sophomore Tom O'Brien and highly-recruited freshman Brad Phillips from the USNTDP U-18 team.
"Jordan (Pearce) has paid his dues," Jackson said.
But just because Jackson has high hopes for Pearce, it does not solve the situation. About Brad Phillips, Jackson said "I am excited about his potential. He was the top goaltender at his age level, and we are real excited to have him here."
"I think this is a solid class," said Jackson. "Several players are worth mentioning including Ted Ruth, Ian Cole and Kelly Ridderwall all of whom can contribute to this program."
If 2006-07 was a breakout year for the Irish, then will 2007-08 solidify the Irish as a power?
"The first couple of months should be interesting," Jackson said. "With a young defense, goaltending, and good sets of forwards, we will be there. It will take some time however."
The Irish open up with Wisconsin in the Lefty McFadden Invitational (and either Ohio State or Mercyhurst), then host two games against Denver to open up the season.