Friday, February 13, 2009

Notre Dame and its effect on Wisconsin hockey

In case you haven't noticed, Notre Dame is really good. They are #2 in the college sports poll, #3 in the USA Today poll, and tied for second in the most important ranking, the PWR (Pairwise Ranking). And guess what, they aren't going anywhere.

Jeff Jackson, who won 2 National Championships at Lake Superior State University (including one over Wisconsin), is one of the premier coaches in the United States. Jackson has his Irish squad playing some of the best hockey in the history of the school. Last season he took the Irish to the frozen four and finished runner up to Nate Gerbe and the Boston College Eagles.

Thursday, the Irish received big news when it was announced that they would be building a new arena on campus to host the nationally ranked hockey team. "This is the most important and missing piece of the puzzle to this hockey program. The new building will create an environment that our fans, the students, the players, and our hockey alumni can be proud of," said Irish coach Jeff Jackson.

What does this mean for Wisconsin hockey? Well...It's not great news. On one hand, it definitely promotes the college hockey game. The Joyce center was an absolute joke of a rink. On the other hand, one of the recruiting advantages schools around the country had on Notre Dame was that it's rink was a joke. Now we no longer have that advantage. Will this hurt Wisconsin's pipeline into Team Illinois and the Chicago area? That obviously remains to be seen, but as long as Jeff Jackson is at Notre Dame, expect them to be a regular competitor in every single recruit we are after. Notre Dame is finally for real, and whether we like it or not, we have to take them seriously.