Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Notre Dame Head Coach Jeff Jackson

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, November 6 at 1:00 p.m. ET, Notre Dame Head Coach Jeff Jackson pays a visit to "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. The Fighting Irish travel to Miami for a two-game CCHA series November 9-10.

Jeff Jackson

When Notre Dame went looking for a new hockey coach following the 2004-05 season, the University searched for a coach who could move the program among the elite hockey schools in the country. The search took them in one direction - Jeff Jackson.

The veteran coach owned a resume packed with success at the collegiate, junior hockey, professional and international levels. Throughout his coaching career, Jackson's teams had been successful both on and off the ice and the hope was that he could deliver those same qualities for the Irish.

In two seasons behind the Notre Dame bench, it's safe to say that he has delivered as expected. The Irish enter the 2007-08 season coming off the most successful season in the program's history and the future continues to grow brighter.

Jackson's '06-'07 team set school records for overall wins (32) and CCHA victories (21) on the way to capturing Notre Dame's first-ever CCHA regular-season and tournament championships. For the first time in the 40-year history of the program, the Irish were ranked No. 1 in the nation, holding that lofty perch for seven straight weeks from Feb. 5 through March 25. They made their second appearance in the NCAA tournament (first as a No. 1 seed) and won their first tournament game.

For his successful season behind the Irish bench, Jackson was named the CCHA coach-of-the-year and the winner of the Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach-of-the-year.

Success is nothing new for Jackson on the Division I level. He returned to college hockey after 10 years away. In six years at Lake Superior State, Jackson's teams won two NCAA titles in 1992 and 1994 (also advancing to the finals in 1993), two CCHA regular-season championships ('91 and '96) and four CCHA playoff trophies ('91, '92, '93 and '95). His 1992-93 team also advanced to the NCAA championship game, losing a 5-4 decision to Maine.

In taking over the Irish coaching duties in `05, Jackson became the first Notre Dame head coach to have won an NCAA Division I championship with another program before being hired as an Irish head coach.

The highly regarded Jackson brings over 20 years of coaching experience to the Irish as an assistant and a head coach at the NCAA Division I level, on the international level with the U.S. national program, in major junior hockey and at the National Hockey League level.

A 1978 graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in communications, Jackson followed with a degree in education in 1979. Jackson got his start in college hockey as an assistant coach at Lake Superior State in 1986 where he served four years under Frank Anzalone, helping guide the Lakers to one CCHA championship and the 1988 NCAA title.

During his six years guiding the Lakers, Jackson produced 12 All-Americans (five first team and seven second team) and one Academic All-American. In 1991, he was recognized as the CCHA coach of the year. He is just one of 12 coaches to win multiple NCAA championships (1992 and 1994). From 1993-96, he also served as the Director of Athletics at Lake Superior.

Several of Jackson's players advanced to play in the NHL. The list includes: Doug Weight (New York Rangers/Edmonton/ St. Louis), Brian Rolston (New Jersey/Colorado/Boston), Keith Aldridge (New York Islanders), Blaine Lacher (Boston Bruins), John Grahame (Boston Bruins/Tampa Bay Lightning), Bates Battaglia (Carolina/Colorado/Washington) and Jim Dowd (New Jersey/Vancouver/New York Islanders/Minnesota Wild).

On June 7, 1996, Jackson was named the national coach and senior director of the newly founded U.S. National Team Development program based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In his first season while putting the program in place, he served as the head coach for the United States Junior National Team that captured the silver medal at the 1997 World Junior Championships, at the time, the best finish ever for the U.S. team. Former Irish captain and current Columbus Blue Jacket, Ben Simon, was a member of that squad.

The following year, Jackson served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. In his four years directing the national program, eight former Notre Dame players came from the developmental program. The list includes: Brett Henning, Michael Chin, Connor Dunlop, Paul Harris, John Wroblewski, Brett Lebda, Neil Komadoski and Rob Globke.

In 2000, Jackson left the U.S. program and took over as coach of the Ontario Hockey League's (OHL) Guelph Storm where he turned a losing franchise around, finishing in second place in his first season with a 34-23-9-2 record. In the 2001-02 season, the Storm went 37-23-7-1 and hosted the Memorial Cup, advancing to the tiebreaker game where they lost to Victoriaville. In two-and-a-half seasons in Guelph, Jackson had an 87-67-24-4 record.

From Guelph, Jackson moved on to the National Hockey League's (NHL) New York Islanders where he served as an assistant on Steve Stirling's staff from 2003-05. In 2003-04, the Islanders finished third in the NHL's Atlantic Division with a 38-29-11-4 record, good for 91 points. The Islanders lost in the first round of the playoffs to eventual Stanley Cup winner, Tampa, four games to one.

Born June 22, 1955, Jackson is a member of the USA Hockey Coaches Achievement Program, the American Hockey Coaches Association and the National Hockey League Coaches Association.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Jeff won't be stopping by until 1:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 6, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Good afternoon, and welcome to another edition of "Tuesday @ the Rink," presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. We have two head coaches joining us today for a great pair of chats, so let's get started. We're joined now by Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson.
Coach Jackson: Welcome, everyone. I hope that I can answer any questions that anyone may have about the University of Notre Dame and Irish Hockey.

Dan (Oxford, OH): Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions. Miami showed a bit of weakness last weekend protecting the puck on the powerplay, will you change your penalty kill strategy to try and take advantage of this?
Coach Jackson: I doubt if we'll change our penalty kill at this point. I think that we've been doing a pretty good job, and it's more a matter of us executing and being ready for the different threats that they bring with their power play. They have so many different threats that it's hard to focus on one specific area.

Chris (Ft. Wayne): How would you say your team has adjusted to being the defending CCHA champions, and getting your opponents' best shot? Is the difference that noticeable in how teams play you?
Coach Jackson: I think that we've gone through some growing pains of higher expectations, both personal and from a team perspective, and we're just finally now starting to play more cohesively. Without question, the opponents that we've played play us differently than when I first started here.

Ben (Mishakawa): You swept Lake Superior last week for the second year in a row. Does facing your old program change at all over time?
Coach Jackson: I believe it becomes more comfortable, not letting personal emotions affect the way we prepare or I coach. I still have friendships with many people from their staff and in the community, so there still is some emotional involvement from my perspective, but I do my best to not relay that to our team.

Kevin (Indian Village): Brad Phillips played well in his season debut last week. How much more of him can we expect to see as the season goes along?
Coach Jackson: As he develops confidence, I believe he'll play more. It's also a matter of respecting Jordan Peace's time here and I also beleive that we have a third goaltender that can compete to play in Tom O'Brien, so it will be an evaluation process that will be ongoing, and we'll determine how much more we play Brad.

Tim (Providence): Coach: Are you surprised by your goaltending through the first part of the season? Jordan Pearce has played well and now you have Brad Phillips getting into the mix.
Coach Jackson: Without question, we've been pleased thus far. Jordan Pearce has given us an oppportunity to win every game, and that's all you can ask of a goaltender. I believe that as he continues to play, he'll get stronger and gain confidence in his ability, and yet, we have good competition to encourage the development of our other goaltenders.

Alex (South Bend): Youth was a big concern coming into the season. How would you say your freshmen have performed over the first month of the season, particularly on defense.
Coach Jackson: I believe that our two freshman defensemen are progressing very well. It's always difficult to replace three seniors, but Ian Cole and Teddy Ruth have both stepped in and contributed extremely well, and the forwards, Ben Ryan specifically, and more recently Robin Bergman, have made great strides in contributing for our team's offense. I also believe that Calle Ridderwall has the potential to be an outstanding college player, and we're also pleased with the development of Ryan Guentzel.

Steven (Ann Arbor): How would you rate your top scorer - Erik Condra - among the top scorers in the CCHA? He's not flashy but always seems to come up with big plays for the Irish.
Coach Jackson: Erik is a catalyst in each perspective of the game. He's one of our best 5-on-5 players. He also contributes to the success of our power play and penalty kill. His great instincts and competitive drive allow him to not only be successful offensively, but contribute to our team's overall play.

Scott (Crumstown): You used the Thang-Deeth-Condra line together for three games earlier in the season...how much more of that do you think we'll see?
Coach Jackson: Much of that combination is dependent on the development and growth of our younger players. I think that one of our weaknesses last year was our lack of offensive depth. They all bring special talents to our team, and keeping them apart allows us to create better offensive depth on our lines, which makes it more difficult for opponents to focus on one line.

Todd (Ardmore): Mark Van Guilder is off to a very nice start for your team. Do you feel he tends to get overlooked at times with the success last year of the Deeth-Thang-Condra line?
Coach Jackson: Mark is a tremendous player, and he contributes in many ways. I think that he has the leadership qualities and ability to be recognized as one of the better players in our conference and in the country. He's a very humble guy and doesn't draw a lot of attention to himself, either on or off the ice, and because he's not the flashiest player, sometimes he gets overlooked for his contributions.

Ken (Roseland): How is the new arena coming along?
Coach Jackson: We are close to the fundraising goal at this point. Our hope is that we can be completed with our fundraising even as soon as the new year, and once that is complete, then the potential for construction beginning even as soon as next summer is a strong possibility with our objective of the facility being up and complete by the start of the 2009-10 season.

Greg (Mishawaka): How do you see this weekend's series versus No. 1 Miami?
Coach Jackson: Obviously, it's a huge challenge. Miami is, without question, the hottest team in the country, and the best team in the country right now. We'll have to play extremely well to have any success. I'm extremely pleased and excited about the direction that Miami, along with several other CCHA teams, have re-energized our conference, and with that comes the recognition of national prominence.

Chris: With the lack of success of ND football this year, is there any extra responsibility on your team to give ND a strong national athletic presence?
Coach Jackson: I believe that football's lack of success this year is just a short-term blip, and an opportunity for other sports to carry the banner high. Our men's and women's soccer programs are having great seasons, and there's much potential for the success of our men's and women's basketball programs, and hopefully hockey, to have great seasons. As much as football dominates the headlines, it is an opportunity for other Notre Dame sports, such as ours, to create a positive image and outlook for our athletic department.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all we have with Coach Jackson this afternoon.
Coach Jackson: Thank you to everyone for the questions, and the continued support of our great game of college hockey.
CSTV.com Moderator: That will do it for the first of our "Tuesday @ the Rink" chats this afternoon. Be sure to come back at the top of the hour, when we'll welcome in Clarkson head coach George Roll.