SOUTH BEND – Next season, when you attend Notre Dame hockey matches, be prepared to grab a list as you enter the Compton Family Ice Arena. There will be a lot of new faces on skates for Fighting Irish.
Since coach Jeff Jackson’s No. 8 Fighting Irish ended a 28-12-0 season with a 1-0 loss March 26 to the No. 1 Minnesota State in the NCAA Albany (New York) Regional Championship game, four Irish players have signed professional contracts and at least two others have entered the transfer portal hoping to continue their collegiate careers elsewhere.
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Notre Dame players on the go
The most recent signer is a big – junior right wing Max Ellis, the team’s leading goal scorer. 5-foot-9, 165-pound Ellis, who had a team-high 16 goals and 28 points, signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the National Hockey League team announced Friday. Ellis will join the Toronto Marlies on a professional trial period for the remainder of the U.S. Hockey League season and the upcoming Calder Cup playoffs before his contract begins for 2022-23.
Late Thursday night, it was reported by the Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald that Notre Dame senior Jake Pivonka, one of three captains for the 2021-22 team and center for the line, which included Ellis and junior left wing Solag Bakich, would continue his college career as a graduate transfer with the Omaha Mavericks from the highly competitive National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The Mavericks, who at times were ranked among the top 20 teams at the national level, fell to a 21-17 finish.
Longtime hockey writer Brad Elliott Schlossmann, who writes for the Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald and follows the transfer portal for “The Rink Live” hockey website based in North Dakota and Minnesota, also reported late Thursday that Notre Dame senior Cam Burke, based in Boxborough, Massachusetts, will be a graduate transfer at Hockey East member Boston College.
The 6-foot and 200-pound-tall Pivonka, who missed the first 15 games of the season as he recovered from summer surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, scored eight points in 25 games for the Irish after returning. His only goal of the season was the game and league winner of the Notre Dame’s 4-2 win over Wisconsin on March 6 to end the best-of-three opening series in the Big Ten tournament.
Pivonka, a fourth-round pick (103rd overall pick) of the New York Islanders in the 2018 NHL Draft, ended his Notre Dame career with nine goals and 38 points in 129 career games. Burke, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound center, had career highs for goals (eight), assists (11) and points (19) for the Irish last season and finished with 15 goals and 30 points in 120 games. Pivonka (.591) and Burke (.586) also finished one-two in the faceoff win percentage for Notre Dame.
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Schlossmann and other sites report that the Notre Dame’s 2022-23 list will include two 6-foot-3 transfers – graduate-to-be-left-back Chayse Primeau, who had nine goals and 23 points for Omaha last season, and junior be defender Drew Bavaro, who led 14-20-2 Bentley of the Atlantic Hockey Association in scoring with nine goals and 27 points. The 24-year-old Primeau, who scored 29 goals and 72 points in 117 games for the Mavericks, is the son of former NHL player Keith Primeau. The 21-year-old Bavaro, who hails from Bradenton, Florida, is not related to former Notre Dame and New York Giants tight-end Mark Bavaro.
Senior center Graham Slaggert, senior defender Spencer Stastney and graduate defender Adam Karashik have all signed professional contracts since the end of the Irish season.
Slaggert, son of Irish associate head coach Andy and a native of South Bend, signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Marlies for 2022-23 and ends the Marlies season on an amateur trial contract. Stastney, a fifth-round pick (131st overall) of the Nashville Predators in the 2018 NHL Draft, signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Predators on March 31st. On April 1, Karashik signed a 2022-23 one-year contract with Lehigh Valley Phantoms, an AHL affiliate with the Philadelphia Flyers, and plays with them on a professional trial contract.
Nick Leivermann, a senior defender who finished in second place after Ellis in scoring, announced earlier this week that he would return for a senior season at Notre Dame.