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Coaching Spotlight: Jeff Jackson

(Huge Linkorama update coming sometime today, once I get the opportunity)

There's an old hockey saying that goes, "There is no more miserable person than the coach of a winning hockey team." Jeff Jackson is an old school guy, so needless to say, he was not a happy fellow last week.

The Irish were coming off an amazing blowout victory over top-ranked Boston College, and had a 3-1 record. For the first time, Jackson had to deal with people saying that his team was good. And the praise came in heaps for Notre Dame last week. They went from being unranked to a number 12 ranking, which is a large jump in the usually static national polls. Jackson's phone was ringing off the hook for interviews as Notre Dame was named College Hockey News team of the week. Forward Mark Van Guilder was named INCH's player of the week and had a feature article written about him, while Erik Condra had a feature article at College Hockey News.

Not only did Jackson have to worry about his player's egos after all the national media attention they received, Notre Dame was scheduled to take on two weaker opponents at a tournament in Florida. It was the perfect opportunity for Notre Dame's team to think they could cruise, and then come out flat and take an embarassing loss that could cost them in March. Jackson certainly had a lot to worry about.

Jackson's solution was a grueling week of practice for the Irish. It would have been natural for the team to ease up after the big weekend, but Jackson didn't give them that opportunity. He skated his team like they had been on the receiving end of a 7-1 loss. The Irish kept with their motivational mantra of "7", though people still aren't quite sure what it means. The most interesting theory I've heard is that Notre Dame was projected to finish about 7th by the coaches and media, though that's not likely.(Though I will say that the Irish were projected to finish 4th in the CCHA here, and since there's no way LSSU is going to finish in second, I'm gonna be riding that pick like I'm Willie Shoemaker)

All that hard work in practice seemed to pay off. Notre Dame didn't come out with the prettiest wins last weekend, but they played solid Jeff Jackson-style hockey, and didn't allow a single goal all weekend. The win over Boston College may have put Notre Dame on the map, but the follow-up wins were critical in helping Notre Dame stay on the map. The Irish won't get as much attention after these wins, but that's probably fine with Jeff Jackson.