Irish Icers using last year's early NCAA exit as motivation entering new season

The Notre Dame hockey team was riding high into the NCAA Tournament last spring. The Irish Icers won the last CCHA Championship Tournament and were a #1 seed in the NCAAs.

And then, they got crushed by St. Cloud State in the opening game 5-1.

"It was kind of a bittersweet season--we did so many good things and then it ended on such a bad note," says senior defensiveman Stephen Johns. "It's been an easy motivator going into the summer and pre-season just to work hard and get ready for the start of the season."

Six months later, the Irish Icers are heading back to the ice for their first official practice on Saturday, an exhibition game on Sunday and the regular season opener is on Friday, October 11th.

Irish head coach Jeff Jackson says now is always an anxious time after a several month layoff, but especially with this layoff.

"I'm sure our guys are biting at the bit," Jackson said Monday as the Irish Icers held their pre-season Media Day. "We felt we should have gone further in the NCAA Tournament but this is an opportunity for us to start over and prove ourselves again."

The Irish Icers will prove themselves again in a new league. Notre Dame embarks on a new journey this year in a new conference, Hockey East.

Johns points out how neat its been for his senior class who had the opportunity to be a part of so many landmark moments in the program's history like the final game at the Joyce Center, the 1st game at the Compton Family Ice Arena, the final season in the CCHA and now the first season in Hockey East.

Notre Dame is an old, experienced group this season. 10 of the team's 25 players are seniors.

The Irish will host Guelph out of Canada Sunday at 5pm at the Comp in an exhibition game. Notre Dame then opens the regular season at home on October 11 when they host Western Michigan at 8pm.

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