Adams returning for Notre Dame Hockey, who add two more transfers from portal

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent
Notre Dame's Jack Adams (22) collides with Ohio State's Will Riedell during the Notre Dame vs. Ohio State NCAA hockey game Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend. Adams announced Monday that he would return for another year to finish his collegiate career with the Irish.

SOUTH BEND – Grad transfer Jack Adams found his game again last season for Notre Dame’s hockey team, and Tuesday he announced he is coming back to finish his collegiate career with the Fighting Irish.

“After an extremely difficult past few years, I feel like I finally found my home here in South Bend,” said the 25-year-old Adams, who grew up in Boxford, Massachusetts, and played hockey at Union College and Providence before transferring to Notre Dame before last season. “I am so excited to be coming back for one more run with my brothers.”

Adams, a 6-foot-6 right wing, scored six goals and 16 points as coach Jeff Jackson’s eighth-ranked Irish came within a victory of reaching the NCAA Frozen Four in his home state at Boston’s TD Garden. Notre Dame lost 1-0 to eventual national runner-up Minnesota State in the NCAA Albany (New York) Regional championship game to finish 28-12 in coach Jeff Jackson’s 17th season behind the Irish bench.

“We’re excited to have Jack back with us for another year,” Jackson said. “He made big strides rediscovering his game. As his compete level grew, Jack’s skill and instincts became more of a factor for us offensively. Jack also has an infectious attitude that’s had a positive impact in our locker room.”

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

► Season ends:Notre Dame’s Frozen Four hopes dashed by No. 1 Minnesota State and its Olympian

Joining Adams on the 2022-23 roster will be two more grad transfers – forward Jackson Pierson of New Hampshire and defenseman Ben Brinkman of Big Ten regular-season champion Minnesota. Pierson, who was born in Zionsville and left Culver Academy as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and Brinkman, who helped the Golden Gophers to a Frozen Four appearance against Minnesota State, join two other players who will finish their college careers at Notre Dame – grad forward Chayse Primeau from Omaha and junior defenseman Drew Bavaro from Bentley.

Jackson Pierson
Ben Brinkman

Adams played in 38 games last season for Notre Dame after playing in just six games since the end of the 2018-19 season when he scored 10 goals and 22 points for Union College. Following that sophomore season, Adams suffered a severe knee injury during a summer development camp run by the Detroit Red Wings, who made Adams a sixth-round pick (162nd overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft. 

The recuperating Adams missed the 2019-20 season with Union, and when Union’s 2020-21 season was shelved by the COVID-19 pandemic, he transferred to Providence but skated in just six games that season after contracting COVID. 

Providence had won the 2015 NCAA championship with Adams’ brother Mark as a defenseman. Mark “Roo” Adams died in 2018 at the age of 27 prior to Adams’ sophomore season at Union.

After starting slowly, Adams scored five goals and five assists in the second semester as Notre Dame finished third in the Big Ten regular season behind Minnesota and Michigan. He had an assist on freshman Hunter Strand’s goal in Notre Dame’s 2-1 victory over Michigan Feb. 26 that completed a four-game, regular-season sweep of the Wolverines.

On March 6, Adams’ goal got the Irish started in a 4-2 victory over Wisconsin to win the opening best-of-three series against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament. He scored Notre Dame’s only goal in its 2-1 loss at Michigan Feb. 12 in the Big Ten semifinals.

“I love this school and I love this team,” said Adams, who has 20 goals and 31 assists for 51 points in 109 games with Union, Providence and Notre Dame and will finish off a master’s degree in non-profit administration. “I’m so excited to see what we can accomplish with the group we have coming back.”

Since the end of the season, Notre Dame has seen grad defenseman Adam Karashik, senior defenseman Spencer Stastney, senior center Graham Slaggert and junior right wing Max Ellis sign professional contracts. Two other senior centers with eligibility remaining – Jake Pivonka and Cam Burke – entered the transfer portal. Pivonka is headed to Omaha, while Massachusetts native Burke will return closer to home to play at Boston College where long-time coach Jerry York recently retired as college hockey’s all-time winningest coach. The active leader is now Jackson with 558, 376 of them at Notre Dame.

The left-handed shooting Pierson, who scored 30 goals and 88 points for Culver Academy in the 2017-18 season when he was the team’s captain, played left and right wing at New Hampshire, where he scored 31 goals and 88 points in 115 games. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Pierson, who is 22, had 12 goals and 24 points this season for 14-19-1 New Hampshire.

Brinkman, a 6-foot, 216-pound defenseman who played high school hockey at Edina, Minnesota, was drafted by Dallas in the 2019 NHL Draft in the sixth round (No. 173 overall). In four seasons, the 21-year-old Brinkman had two goals and 23 points in 140 games. Last season, Brinkman played in 37 games for the Gophers, who finished 26-13, won the Big Ten regular-season title but lost to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament championship. The Gophers reached the Frozen Four before losing 5-1 to Minnesota State.