Irish coach Dave Poulin recently announced the signing of seven players to national letters of intent to play for Notre Dame. Four of the seven players will join the team in the 2005-06 season, while the remaining three will defer for until the 2006-07 season.
Forwards Eric Condra (Livonia, Mich.) and Christian Hanson (Venetia, Pa.) along with goalie Jordan Pearce (Anchorage, Alaska) and defenseman Jamie Silverson (Thunder Bay, Ont.) are the four who signed to play next season immediately. Defenseman Kyle Lawson (New Hudson, Mich.) and forwards Kevin Deeth (Gig Harbor, Wash.) and Ryan Thang (Edina, Minn.) will defer and play one more year of junior hockey before coming to the Irish.
Condra, Hanson, Pearce and Silverson will step in next season to help fill the void left by the graduating class of 2005 that will include current senior forward Cory McLean, goalie Morgan Cey and defenseman Joe Zurenko.
Pearce will especially be a big part of the future of the Irish, and should continue the line of impressive Notre Dame netminders, joining current sophomore David Brown and junior Rory Walsh in the mix for goaltending next season.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound goalie is currently one of the best goaltenders in the United States Hockey League, playing for the Lincoln Stars. Pearce is already familiar with the Joyce Center ice, after playing with the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 hockey team in an exhibition last year.
Pearce started the game against the Irish, making 25 saves in Notre Dame's 4-0 victory over the Under-18 team.
"This might be the best goalie recruit in the country," Poulin said. "You're looking at a kid who is excelling in Lincoln and who continues the tradition we're making of being a program for outstanding goalies."
Silverson could be another player in the mold of current sophomore defenseman Wes O'Neill - a big tall defenseman with skills. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound defenseman is currently a member of the British Columbia Hockey League's Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
He was a teammate of O'Neill and current Irish freshman forward Victor Oreskovich on Ontario's Under-17 team at the 2002 Canadian Championships in Nova Scotia.
"[Silverson] is probably even bigger than Wes," Poulin said. "[Silverson] was Wes' defensive partner on that U-17 team and they complimented each other real well."
Condra is Pearce's teammate on the Stars, and currently had four goals and five assists in 16 games for Lincoln. The 6-foot, 185-pound forward was teammates with current Irish freshman forward Evan Rankin on the Honeybaked AAA team.
"[Condra] and Evan had great chemistry on that team," Poulin said. "[Condra] does all the little things right - the things that aren't always noticeable right away, and that's an important part of any good hockey team."
Hanson, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound center, is in his second season with the Tri City Storm of the USHL - and was teammates with three Irish freshmen, Brian D'Arcy, Luke Lucyk and Mark Van Guilder - in the 2003-04 Storm season.
Hanson has perhaps one of the most unique pedigrees ever of any player to play for the Irish. His father Dave had a lucrative professional career, but is probably best known for his role in the movie Slapshot as one of the violent and aggressive Hanson brothers.
"It should bring out a lot of thick glasses in our crowd," Poulin joked - referring to the famous prop from the movie.
Contact Justin Schuver at firstname.lastname@example.org