Next year's Notre Dame hockey team gets a boost with return of Nick Lievermann

By John Fineran
ND Insider
Notre Dame's Nick Leivermann (4) looks to pass during the Notre Dame vs. RIT NCAA hockey game Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

SOUTH BEND — There was some good news for the Notre Dame 2022-23 hockey team on the eve of the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals. Coach Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish received word from senior defenseman Nick Leivermann that he will return for a graduate season.

“After looking at potential options, I felt returning to Notre Dame would be best for my career development,” said Leivermann, who like all NCAA athletes was granted another year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m looking forward to continuing my education and becoming a Double Domer, and I’m excited to hit the ice with our returning group.”

Despite missing six games in January and February because of an undisclosed injury, the 5-foot-11, 184-pound Leivermann finished tied for second in scoring with six goals and 21 assists for 27 points — all career highs and just one point behind team-leader Max Ellis. Leivermann, who along with senior Spencer Stastney gave the Irish a strong offensive presence from the blueline, finished with a plus-16 plus/minus ratio (second on the team) while finishing with 46 blocked shots (fourth).

“We’re very excited to have Nicky returning to our program,” said head coach Jeff Jackson, whose team concluded the season 28-12-0 with a 1-0 loss to top-ranked Minnesota State in the Albany (New York) Regional March 26. 

► More:Galajda, Leivermann lift No. 11 Notre Dame over Michigan State

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The Mavericks were scheduled to play Minnesota at 8:30 p.m. in Thursday night’s second semifinal of the NCAA Frozen Four at Boston’s TD Garden following the 5 p.m. opener between Big Ten champion Michigan and Denver. The Irish finished third behind regular-season champion Minnesota and Michigan and reached the tournament semifinals before losing to eventual champion Michigan 2-1 on March 12.

Jackson believes Leivermann will provide leadership to the Fighting Irish, who already have seen fellow defensemen Stastney and Adam Karashik and center Graham Slaggert sign professional contracts following the season’s conclusion.

“(Leivermann will) continue to develop his game and strive to become one of the best defensemen in the country,” Jackson added. “He also has the experience and leadership qualities necessary to help sustain our culture moving forward.”

A general view of Michigan forward Matty Beniers (10) skating with the puck as Notre Dame defenseman Nick Leivermann (4) defends during the Notre Dame-Michigan Big Ten  hockey game on Friday, February 25, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

An alternate captain last season, Leivermann, who had an assist on Slaggert’s game-winning overtime goal that knocked out North Dakota 2-1 in the Albany Regional opener, was a seventh-round selection (187th player overall) pick of the Colorado Avalanche in the 2017 NHL Draft. He also had a career-best three points (a goal and two assists) in Notre Dame’s 5-4 overtime victory at Penn State Jan. 8. He also was a key player on Notre Dame’s penalty-kill unit that finished No. 1 in the nation.

Leivermann, who has 17 goals and 41 assists for 58 points in 118 career games, will receive his bachelor’s degree in business technology in May. Leivermann has earned Big Ten All-Academic Team honors each of the past three seasons and is one of the team’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council representatives.