Players to Watch: Notre Dame
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
A list of players to watch on Notre Dame as we reach the Frozen Four.
Mark Van Guilder, Senior Forward
Van Guilder was one of the biggest beneficiaries of Jeff Jackson's system when he came to Notre Dame three years ago. Combined with his natural leadership ability, 6-foot-2 frame, and all-around skills, Van Guilder blossomed.
Van Guilder went from eight goals as a sophomore, to 18 goals last season as Notre Dame made the NCAA regional final. This year, he had a goal and three assists in the regional, and has 12 goals overall on the season.
"Van Guilder is excellent at playing both directions," said one CCHA coach. "They rely heavily on him."
Brock Sheahan, Senior Defenseman
A 6-foot defenseman from Alberta, Sheahan is part of a top-four blueline corps that ranks among the best in the nation.
Sheahan manages to play a tough style without being very big. He's not going to score a whole lot — he has four goals in his college career, including three last season — but last year he was a plus-20 and this year a plus-23, best on the team.
"Brock Sheahan is very good," said a CCHA coach. "Even though his numbers offensively are modest, he's excellent defensively. Defense is the strength of the team. With (Kyle) Lawson, Ian Cole, (Dan) Venard, they're pretty deep."
Sheahan has played all but two games in his career, sitting two during his freshman season. He is the lone Canadian on the roster.
Ian Cole, Freshman Defenseman
An Ann Arbor native, and part of the U.S. Junior National program, he was wrested from the Wolverines and is a prized Jackson recruit. He now gets to play his hometown team in the NCAA semifinals.
Lawson has one of the better shots from the blue line in the CCHA, and Cole is right there too.
"Cole has a bomb as well," said the CCHA coach. "He's really going to emerge next year as one of the better offensive defensemen.
He took a while to get heated up offensively, with just two goals through mid-January. But he's had six goals since then, including four in the postseason. That included the game-winning power-play goal against Ferris State in the deciding Game 3 of the CCHA quarterfinals.
Cole was the 18th overall pick in the NHL Draft last year, the highest-ever selection for a Notre Dame player.
Christian Hanson, Junior Center
For some people, Hanson may be very well known, but for different reasons than his on-ice presence. Though in most cases, he's probably not very well known at all.
He's hard to miss, though, when you watch the Irish play — at 6-foot-4 and close to 230 pounds. But if you know his background, he's familiar because his father is Dave Hanson, of the famed "Hanson Brothers" from the classic movie Slap Shot. Dave Hanson played 10 pro seasons, though of course he's best known for his movie role.
Christian Hanson is hardly a pugilist on that level, with a modest 57 penalty minutes this season. He is, however, a strong, imposing presence.
"Against us Christian Hanson played well, in terms of being a good, strong defensive player," said the CCHA coach.
Best of all, perhaps, Hanson has improved to 1 to 6 to 13 goals in his three seasons — and four of those goals have come in the last three games.