College hockey: Freshmen making impact around the nation
With more players leaving school early, opportunities open up quickly
Neil Koepke firstname.lastname@example.org November 16, 2010
LANSING - Two weeks before freshman orientation at Notre Dame, center T.J. Tynan was still planning on returning to his junior team in the U.S. Hockey League - the Des Moines Buccaneers - and playing in South Bend next year.
Then he got a call from Irish coach Jeff Jackson inviting him to start school this fall. Notre Dame had just lost another player to the NHL and there was an opening on the roster.
Tynan, 18, said yes and within a couple weeks, the 5-foot-8, 156-pound forward from Orland Park, Ill., was beginning his college career in mid-August.
Six weeks and 11 games into the hockey season, Tynan is Notre Dame's second-leading scorer with five goals and eight assists for 13 points, and he's the third-highest freshman scorer in the nation.
Irish teammate and linemate Anders Lee, 20, a left wing, also is making a big impact. Lee, a 6-foot-3, 218-pounder from Edina, Minn., has a team-high 11 goals and is third in points with 11.
Lee ranks second nationally among rookies in goals and is tied for seventh in points.
Freshmen are making a big splash throughout the nation with several rookies among the top 20 overall scorers. In addition, several defensemen and a few goaltenders are also playing key roles.
"A big part of it is because so many players are leaving school early for the NHL so there's more opportunities,'' Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said.
"We had originally seven freshmen coming in, then just before school started we lost two more players. So T.J. Tynan and (defenseman) Kevin Lind came in. Today, when you bring in freshmen, it's not just to be here but they have to play, too.
"Tynan and Lee were top scorers in the USCHL so it's not that big of a surprise that they're contributing.''
Last season, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association didn't have a freshman in the top 50 in overall scoring. This year, the WCHA has five with 11 points or more.
Colorado College forward Jaden Schwartz leads the nation in rookie scoring with nine goals and nine assists for 18 points, and he's in a three-way tie for the WCHA scoring lead. His nine goals rank third nationally, behind Miami senior Carter Camper's 11 goals and North Dakota senior Matt Frattin's 10.