Notre Dame's Peeke signs with Blue Jackets

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame hockey captain and defenseman Andrew Peeke has signed a three-year, entry level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League, it was announced Monday morning by Notre Dame and the professional club.

“Notre Dame will forever be in my heart,” Peeke said. “I can’t thank my teammates, coaches, staff and everyone else involved at the university enough for the person and player they’ve helped me become.”

Peeke is expected in Columbus Tuesday before the team plays host to the Boston Bruins. With three games to go in the regular season, the Blue Jackets are riding a five-game winning streak and are 45-30-4 for 94 points but are fighting for an Eastern Conference wild-card playoff berth. They are without two key defensemen, Ryan Murray and Adam McQuaid, who have upper-body injuries.

“Andrew has had a big impact on our program over the last three years both on and off the ice,” said Irish coach Jeff Jackson, whose team was eliminated by Massachusetts, 4-0, in the NCAA Northeast Regional championship Saturday.

The 6-foot-3, 198-pound Peeke, a Parkland, Fla., resident, played in all 40 games for the Big Ten tournament champion Irish (23-14-3), anchoring a defense that played three freshmen while also finishing fourth in scoring with 24 points on three goals and 21 assists. In addition to the tournament title and NCAA appearance this season, Notre Dame went to two NCAA Frozen Fours in Peeke’s first two seasons and won the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles his sophomore campaign.

His loss and the May graduation of leading scorer Bobby Nardella will leave Jackson’s blue line corps with a junior (Tory Dello), a sophomore (Matt Hellickson) and starting freshmen Spencer Stastney and Nate Clurman. The Irish have two other freshmen defensemen on their roster in Nick Leivermann and Charlie Raith and have a signed letter-of-intent from right defenseman Ryan Carmichael.

In 119 career games, Peeke used a hard right-handed shot to score 12 goals among his 52 career points. He was one of the anchors on Notre Dame’s 16th-ranked power-play. He finished his career with a +18 plus/minus rating.

Peeke was a second-round pick (34th overall) of the Blue Jackets in the 2016 NHL Draft. He also helped the United States to a bronze medal in the 2018 World Junior Championships.

Notre Dame’s Andrew Peeke (22) looks down the ice during the Notre Dame-Minnesota Duluth NCAA college hockey game Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, inside the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.