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Hockey Prepares For A Season Of Changes

Oct 1, 2013, 11:05 AM EDT

Anna Gonzalez, the official 2013-14 hockey beat writer for the Irish UNDerground blog, is currently a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame. Over the course of the year Anna will bring you insight from within the Notre Dame hockey program, interviews with Fighting Irish players and her thoughts on the squad. You can follow Anna (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.

“It’s going to be an exciting year for us in a different way.”

Notre Dame Hockey head coach Jeff Jackson and this year’s four team captains (seniors Jeff Costello, TJ Tynan, Stephen Johns, and Bryan Rust) spoke with the media today about the upcoming season, which officially begins on October 11 at the Compton Family Ice Arena against Western Michigan.

Here are a few things of note (all quotes below are from Jackson):

  • If you didn’t already know, Notre Dame is now a member of the Hockey East conference (which means the rivalry against Michigan is over until further notice). Coach Jackson said that Hockey East will be an “exciting new challenge” playing “so many teams in a new environment.” He mentioned that they have to familiarize themselves with 10 new teams, but those 10 only have to familiarize themselves with Notre Dame.
  • With 10 seniors, this is one of the oldest rosters Notre Dame has ever seen, but the freshman and sophomores have a chance to be big game changers. “I think [freshman] Vinnie Hinostroza could have an immediate impact for us. We have two young defensemen that have a chance to potentially play. They’re going to compete with [sophomore] Andy Ryan who didn’t compete a lot last year. I think it’s actually going to be some of our sophomores that elevate, like Ryan on defense, [sophomore] Sammy Herr has a chance to play a more significant role.”
  • Not all the teams of Hockey East are brand new to the Irish. In fact, two are quite familiar to Notre Dame: Boston College and Boston University. However, this season will require the team to travel more. Some of their destinations include Burlington, Vt.,  Lowell, Mass., Durham, N.H., Providence, R.I. and, of course, Fenway Park in Boston for the Citi Frozen Fenway outdoor tournament.
  • Senior goaltender Steven Summerhays has his work cut out for him. “He still has some areas to improve. I looked at a list today of the top-10 goaltenders in the country. He’s not listed there. He needs to find a way to make it into that top-10 for us to have a great year…he can do that. The way he played last year, I thought he really came into his own. He showed he can win. He just has to play more consistently.”
  • Freshman Chad Katunar, at 6’5″ and 232 lbs, is the largest guy on the roster, but that’s not exclusively what makes him stand out. “I think he’s got a chance to be a really good goaltender in college hockey, and he could play some minutes this year. I don’t know how significant of minutes, because Summerhays earned that job, but I expect that Katunar will play some games for us, and people are going to see he’s a big man. He’s in the realm of the big goaltenders of the day. But he has a chance to be really special.”
  • On current captain, Jeff Costello: “I think his teammates have a lot of respect for him. I think he’s got his head on straight, and generally, I don’t usually name captains that have had any issues off the ice, whether in the classroom or socially. Jeff’s probably a guy who may not be the real loud screamer, but I think when he speaks, the guys listen–because he’d probably tear their heads off if they didn’t. Nobody’s stronger in the weight room, he does a great job in the classroom, and I think that Jeff has a chance to be a very good captain.”
  • On former captain, Anders Lee: “Well I don’t think we can replace Anders Lee, but we can certainly get better production out of certain guys to offset the loss. We won’t replace him as a person and as a hockey player, but we can replace his production…Anders was unique. He was an adult amongst boys.”
  • A dynamic duo has been reunited: “We’re going to reunite Hinostroza–for the start of the season at least–with [sophomore] Thomas DiPauli, because when we recruited one, we recruited them both. Together, they were dynamic back for Chicago Mission. Together, they were extremely good. We’re going to see if they still have that chemistry.”

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