Thursday, April 12, 2007

Protect Ya Net | by Mike

As previously mentioned, this year was a landmark year for the Fighting Irish hockey team. The Irish won the CCHA regular season and tournament championships and spent several weeks as the top-ranked team in the nation. The Irish lost to eventual national champion Michigan State in the regional finals of the NCAA tournament, but still achieved many firsts for the Irish hockey program.

Two of the men most responsible for the turnaround were second-year head coach Jeff Jackson and goalie David Brown. Brown displayed flashes of his brilliance even before Jackson arrived. As a freshman in 2003, he stood on his head in a 1-0 Irish victory over then-No. 1-ranked Boston College in Chestnut Hill. Though only the fifth game of Brown's collegiate career, it was already his second shutout.

Brown's senior year was the year he put it all together. As the Irish ascended to their number 1 ranking, Brown led the nation in wins (30) and goals-against average (1.58). His save percentage (.931) and shutouts (6) were second in both categories nationally. Following such play, the awards rolled in for Brown. He was the CCHA regular season Player of the Year. (Jeff Jackson was named CCHA coach of the year.) Following Notre Dame's CCHA tournament championship, Brown was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

The CCHA's best player also received his share of national recognition. He was a first team selection to the 2006-07 RBK Hockey All-American West Team. Brown was named First Team All-USCHO, Defensive Player of the Year, and national Player of the Year by USCHO. USCHO - U.S. College Hockey Online - also named Jackson national coach of the year. Brown was also the winner of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes the top student-athlete in the sport who uses all four years of his collegiate eligibility.

Brown was also named one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, the hockey version of the Heisman trophy. The award was won by North Dakota forward Ryan Duncan, becoming the sixth consecutive winner from the WCHA conference.

Head coach Jeff Jackson was honored with the Spencer Penrose Award, given by the American Hockey Coaches Association to the Division I men's hockey coach of the year. Jackson led the team to a 32-7-3 record in his second year, a staggering improvement over the 5-27-6 record in the year before Jackson's arrival.

Congratulations to David Brown, Jeff Jackson, and the rest of the Irish hockey team for their outstanding season.