Notre Dame wants to be more than just a collection of draft picks

Mario Lucia scored 21 goals last season for Notre Dame (photo: Melissa Wade).

Notre Dame had a good-but-not-great season last year, finishing a game under .500 overall but much better in Hockey East play, just a point out of fourth place.

The Irish, however, have lost their two top difference-makers from last year, defenseman Robbie Russo and forward Vince Hinostroza, so it’ll be a more balanced attack that will need to get the job done. Which is not to say the talent isn’t there.

“We have 10 NHL draft picks on the team,” coach Jeff Jackson said. “That doesn’t mean anything. It’s about the guys on the ice.”

Jackson sees in his team some of what led Providence to an NCAA title last year and considers that a recipe for success.

“If you look at the last three national champions, they were all older teams that were very competitive defensively, they were very strong as a unit,” he said. “Realistically, that’s how we’re going to have to play to be successful. We’re going to have to play an ultimate team game.

“I think our depth will be a little bit better this year, offensively and defensively.

“Hopefully, we can get everybody on the same page to where we can try to be that team like Providence was last year, a team that is more the sum of the parts than it is about just the individual.”

Last season

18-19-5, 10-7-5 (fifth) in Hockey East. Lost to UMass-Lowell in the second round of the Hockey East playoffs.

Names to know

Mario Lucia leads the returning goalscorers by a wide margin with 21. Jordan Gross will be the top offensive force from the blue line. And Cal Petersen, who as a freshman seized the goaltender position halfway through last year, looks to extend that success.

Three questions

1. Can Petersen perform over the entire season the way he did during the last half of last year?

2. Will the Irish’s out-of-conference performance help put them into the NCAAs like two years ago or doom those chances like last season?

3. Will Notre Dame return to its traditional dominance at home after a mediocre .500 record last year?

Crystal ball

Jim Connelly (eighth place): Jackson’s squad could be sneaky good and climb much higher in the standings. But this club needs to score some goals, particularly on the power play.

David H. Hendrickson (sixth place): The Irish will be much better than .500 at home and 8-12 out of conference, two negatives from last year that kept them from more success within Hockey East and a berth in the NCAA tournament.

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