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Irish Face Northeastern In Big Hockey East Home Series

January 24, 2014
HOOSIER SPORTS 365



NOTRE DAME RELEASE

Notre Dame, Ind. -

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And then there were 11.....

Eleven games remain in the 2013-14 regular season for the Fighting Irish hockey team and they are all important as Notre Dame returns to Hockey East play for the remainder of the campaign. This weekend, the Northeastern Huskies visit the Compton Family Ice Arena for a pair of games.

The Huskies and the Irish will play at 7:35 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24 in the series opener and then return for game two at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25. The NBC Sports Network will televise both games with Steve Schlanger calling the play-by-play and Ken Hodge "Inside the Glass."

Notre Dame closes out a six-game home stand that has seen the Irish go 4-0-0 in the first four contests. During the streak that includes sweeps of Alabama Huntsville and Lake Superior State, Notre Dame has outscored the opposition by a 22-6 margin. The four-game run is the longest for the Irish this season since opening the year with a five-game streak from Oct. 11 through Oct. 25.

Notre Dame enters the weekend ranked 15th in the nation with a 14-8-1 overall record and a 3-5-1 record in Hockey East play, good for seven points in the standings and eighth place overall. The Irish are one point behind seventh-place Vermont (8) and three behind sixth-place New Hampshire (10) with one game in hand on both teams. They trail first-place Boston College (23) by 16 points in the standings and four games in hand on the Eagles. Notre Dame, along with Merrimack and UMass-Lowell has played the fewest games in conference play with nine each.

Northeastern is ranked 11th in both national polls and is 14-7-3 overall and 7-4-1 in conference play, good for 15 points and the Huskies are second in Hockey East, trailing first-place Boston College by eight points with a game in hand on the Eagles. Northeastern leads the Irish by eight points in conference but Notre Dame has three games in hand on the Huskies, who are among the hottest teams in the nation. Northeastern is 4-1-0 in its last five games and since Nov. 22, has an 8-2-3 mark.

"We are playing a very good hockey team this weekend," says Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.

"Watching film, there are parts of me that think that they may be the team to beat in Hockey East. Boston College is extremely good, UMass-Lowell and Providence are all good teams, but Northeastern is one of the top few teams in the country from what I have seen and how they are playing."

The Irish and the Huskies have already met once this year as they faced each other in the championship game of Notre Dame's Shillelagh Tournament on Nov. 30, a game won by Northeastern, 3-2.

"What we saw (in November) is who they are and they were pretty good," said Jackson.

"We had them on the ropes but they have a really good cycle game in the offensive zone and they don't give you much in the defensive zone. And the goaltender has a 94 save percentage. They are very skilled up front and they will test us to the max."

IRISH VERSUS HUSKIES

Notre Dame and Northeastern have met nine times in the all-times series with the Huskies having a 5-3-1 advantage. In games played at Notre Dame, Northeastern is 4-1-0, including 3-0-0 at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The two teams already have met once this season - on Nov. 30 - in the championship game of the Shillelagh Tournament with Northeastern taking a 3-2 win. The Huskies were on Notre Dame's schedule in the opening season of the Compton Family Ice Arena (2011-12) and knocked off the Irish twice that year with a 9-2 win on Dec. 2, 2011 and a 2-1 victory the following night. Northeastern is 4-0-1 in the last five meetings between the two schools, dating back to the 2000-01 season.

NORTHEASTERN 101

While we have already seen the Northeastern Huskies once on the ice this season, this weekend's series is the first between the two schools in Hockey East play. Here's a look at the Boston-based school and one of the original members of Hockey East.

Northeastern University is a private research University that was founded in 1898 and offers undergraduate majors in 65 departments and at the graduate level has more than 125 programs. The main campus is located in Boston in the Fenway, Roxbury, South End and Back Bay neighborhoods adjacent to Huntington Avenue near the Museum of Fine Arts. Northeastern has over 24,500 students with that total made up over 16,500 undergraduates and close to 8,000 graduate students.

The University is well known for its cooperative education program that includes classroom studies with professional experience on over the world. During the 2012-13 year, almost 8,000 students participated in the co-op program.

Northeastern is an NCAA Division I member with 14 of its athletic teams playing in the Colonial Athletic Association. The men and women's hockey teams are in Hockey East and the rowing squads participate in the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges.

The Northeastern hockey teams and basketball teams play at historic Matthews Arena, formerly known as the Boston Arena and seats 4,666 for hockey and 5,066 for basketball. Built in 1910, it is the world's oldest surviving indoor ice hockey arena. It is the original home of the Boston Bruins and the WHA's New England Whalers and is the original home of the Beanpot Tournament.

Northeastern has never won a regular-season Hockey East title and has one tournament championship (1988) to its credit. The Huskies have won the Beanpot Tournament four times (1980, `84, `85 and `88) and have advanced to the NCAA Tournament four times - 1982, 1988, 1994 and 2009.

Head coach Jim Madigan is the 10th coach in the program's history and played at Northeastern from 1982-86 under the legendary Ferny Flaman. Now in his third season, Madigan is 36-44-12, including 3-0-0 against Notre Dame. Among the Northeastern alums to go on to the National Hockey League are defenseman Dan McGillis, forwards Chris Nilan and Joe Vitale and current Nashville GM David Poile all played for the Huskies.

HOCKEY SAVES

Notre Dame will honor members of the military this weekend as they help to raise money for "Hockey Saves." Based in Fort Benning, Ga., the program began to provide soldiers at the base an outlet through hockey. Originally, it provided ice time for a few dozen servicemen but has grown to include over 200 players in Fort Benning. With all the players joining the organization, the groups' needs have grown for equipment and ice time. That's where the world of hockey has come in as they have taken notice. The National Hockey League has donated specially designed hockey jerseys to the organization and the players. Various teams and players have donated equipment and their time to help the group. Irish goaltender Joe Rogersbecame involved with Hockey Saves last year and is now on the group's board of directors. This weekend, Notre Dame will wear specially designed jerseys in the two games that will then be auctioned in an on-line auction at und.com. Proceeds from the auction will go to Hockey Saves. There will be a Chuck-a-Puck contest on Saturday with monies raised going to the organization. Members of the organization will be recognized throughout the weekend at the games. Fans can also donate to the group on-line at www.hockeysaves.us.

HOCKEY HUMANITARIAN AWARD

Notre Dame senior goaltender Joe Rogershas been selected as one of 18 nominees for the prestigious BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award that will be presented at the Frozen Four this April. The Hockey Humanitarian Award is presented annually to college hockey's "finest citizen" and seeks to recognize college hockey players, male or female, who contribute to local and/or global communities in a true humanitarian spirit.

Rogers, a native of Marysville, Mich., serves as Notre Dame's third goaltender and is known for his work off the ice in various facets of community service. He was born with an underdeveloped right hand that keeps him from being able to close his catching glove, something that would make it hard to be a successful goaltender at any level.

As a child, he had operations when he was two years old and again when he was five that took a bone from his foot to try and reshape the thumb on his right hand. Despite the obstacles, and with a custom-made glove, he has learned to catch the puck and either pull it in to his chest to make a save or cover it on the ice. He has played hockey since he was four-years old and through hard work and perseverance has followed his dream to play Division I hockey.

Now a senior at Notre Dame, he has become a role model for kids with handicaps that want to play sports, especially hockey. While growing up in Michigan, Rogers was able to meet and talk to Jim Abbott, the baseball pitcher who was born without an arm, yet pitched in the major leagues. Abbot was an inspiration to Rogers and they have stayed in touch over the years.

Rogers has now become the role model for younger kids with handicaps as he takes the time to meet and talk with these youngsters about how they can do anything they want and to never give up their dreams.

He is one of the most respected players in the Notre Dame locker room as his teammates seek him out about academics, various community service projects and just about anything about life on the Notre Dame campus.

While being involved with team community service projects, he also takes on projects of his own. For the past three years, he has volunteered his time with the River City Sled Rovers, a sled hockey team in the South Bend/Mishawaka area and he has been with the group since it started.

Rogers also works with the local youth hockey organization, the Irish Youth Hockey League (IYHL), especially with the goaltenders, along with his teammates in his free time.

This season, he has gotten involved in an even bigger project. During the 2012-13 season, Rogers got involved with a group called Hockey Saves, an organization that started near Fort Benning, Ga., that provides members of the military with funding to play hockey and provide equipment and backing for those who play the game. During the summer of 2013, he was asked to join the Board of Directors of Hockey Saves and has become involved with the organization as a consultant and ambassador for the group as it helps unite the game of hockey and members of the military. Rogers has undertaken a project through the Notre Dame hockey program that will promote the Hockey Saves organization through a jersey auction and Notre Dame hockey this weekend.

The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) honored him in its final season in 2012-13 with the Terry Flanagan Award that is presented annually to an upperclassman that has overcome some type of personal adversity and is active on the university campus and the surrounding community. The award is named after long-time Bowling Green assistant coach Terry Flanagan who lost his battle with cancer in 1991.

An outstanding student in the classroom, Rogers is a finance major in Notre Dame's prestigious Mendoza College of Business where he has a 3.071 grade-point average. This past summer, he served an internship in New York with Credit Suisse, an investment bank where he worked on the fixed-income trading floor. He was hired by Credit Suisse earlier this month and will begin working next summer on his financial licensing tests before becoming a full-time trader.

At Notre Dame, Rogers has played in three games in his career but in 2010, he led the United States team to a bronze medal in the Amputee World Hockey Championships that were held in Montreal, Que., and was named the tournament's most valuable player.

Needless to say, his coach, Jeff Jacksonis very high on his senior goaltender and what he means to the Irish hockey program.

"I had to write a letter of recommendation for the College Hockey Humanitarian Award. When I did that, I just sat back and said, `Wow, what a great kid,' when you look at all he has done from a service perspective," says Jackson.

"People don't see behind the scenes what he has done. He has a tremendous attitude and character to him. He's always smiling and you feel good to be around him. That's a rare quality for a young guy like that. Let's face facts. He's not a starting player for us. He's our third goaltender and he's accepted that role, stubbornly, but not negatively. He competes hard everyday in practice. He works hard in the weight room and he's a great team guy. "

Jackson continues, "I said in my letter that in many ways, he's as valuable as any player that we have on this team and he hasn't played much hockey. That tells you what kind of kid he is. He's a passionate kid about life, maybe because he was born with a disability that he's overcome maybe because he recognizes that there are more important things than having a right hand. I am really proud of him. He's been a great ambassador for this program and probably will be for many years to come."

ONE FOR THE COACH

Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jacksonenters the weekend series with Northeastern one win shy of the 200 mark in this his ninth season behind the Irish bench. He starts the weekend with a 199-118-34 (.615) mark at Notre Dame. For his Division I coaching career, Jackson is 381-170-59 (.673) in six seasons at Lake Superior and nine at Notre Dame.

MAKING HIS MARK

Sophomore left wing Sam Herr has become one of Notre Dame's go-to-guys in the goal scoring department in this his second season. Through the first 23 games, the Hinsdale, Ill., native is tied for the team lead in goals with 12 with fellow sophomore left wing Mario Luciaand is fifth in team scoring with 19 points. The power forward leads Notre Dame in game-winning goals with four and is second to Lucia's six power-play goals with four of his own. Not bad for a kid who had just one assist in 13 games as a freshman.

Since the start of the 2014 portion of the schedule, Herr has played on a line with senior center T.J. Tynan and senior right wing Bryan Rustand the results have been outstanding. In those five games, Herr has four goals and three assists for seven points while Tynan had two goals and eight assists for 10 points and Rust has five goals and three assists for eight points. That gives the threesome 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points in that time frame.

The 6-0, 206-pound portsider credits confidence as the reason for his sophomore success.

"The main thing is confidence. When you get more ice time you get more confident out there, you trust your game more," says Herr.

"Also, working with coach last year about what I needed to do this season to be more of a factor and we talked about `playing big,' mostly getting to the net, getting to the dirty areas to create some offense. It's been working so far."

Playing big is an important factor for Herr, who skates well and has the ability to handle the puck. It doesn't mean being a hitter or a physical player.

"Coach did a good job last year of explaining to me where I should do it or when not to," says Herr.

"It's not all about finishing a check although that is part of it. Getting to the net, making it really hard for the defenseman to play against me is what playing big means. I think I am starting to get the hang of it now.

Jackson for one is pleased with the way his new big man is playing.

"Sammy (Herr) is playing a bigger man's game. He's a big kid who is strong on his skates and strong over the puck," says Jackson.

"You don't have to be a big hitter to play a physical game. It's a matter of getting to the net, getting body position on a defenseman, beating people back to the net and being good on the walls. He's not a real brute physically, but offensively he is becoming more of a brute. The door opened this year for someone to step in with Anders (Lee) leaving. We thought Sam could fill that role at some point in his career. Fortunately, it's happened in his sophomore year.

HOCKEY EAST HAPPENINGS

Earlier this week, Boston College extended its lead in Hockey East with a 4-1 win at Merrimack on Tuesday night ... the Hockey East schedule this weekend includes five league matchups, including two that will pit top 15 teams against each other ... eighth-ranked UMass-Lowell will tangle with seventh-ranked Providence in a home-and-home series. Friday's game is at PC while Saturday's is at Lowell's Tsongas Center ... 11th-ranked Northeastern will travel to 15th-ranked Notre Dame for two games a the Compton Family Ice Arena ... in other series, Merrimack and Massachusetts play a home-and-home series as do Maine and New Hampshire ... Vermont travels to Boston University for a pair of games ... Boston College plays a single game at Penn State on Saturday ... BC's line of Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes are 1-2-3 in the Hockey East scoring race and all find themselves in the top ten in scoring in Division I. Gaudreau is first, averaging 2.00 points per game (21-27-48 totals), Hayes is third at 1.79 PPG (17-26-43), and Arnold is tied for ninth at 1.38 PPG (8-25-33) ... the Providence College - UMass-Lowell series features two of the top three goaltenders in the country in save percentage. UML's Connor Hellebuyck is first in Division I with a .946 save percentage, while PC's Jon Gillies is third with a mark of .936 ... Boston College's Kevin Hayes was the Hockey East player of the week last week after getting seven points (3g, 4a) in a pair of wins over Maine. He had three goals and two assists in a 7-2 win on Jan. 18 ... Providence goaltender Jon Gillies was the league's defensive player of the week after going 1-0-1 in a series at Colorado College ... the sophomore stopped 55-of-59 shots in the two games for a .923 save percentage ... Vermont forward Mario Puskarich was the rookie of the week with two goals and two assists in a split with Northeastern ... Irish defenseman Kevin Lind ranks third in Hockey East in blocked shots with 51 in 23 games for a 2.22 per game average ... New Hampshire defenseman Eric Knodel leads the league with 68 in 26 games for a 2.62 average.


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