‘Homeboy' Jack Adams leads No. 19 Notre Dame hockey into 2-game Thanksgiving trip in Boston

Tribune Staff Report
Notre Dame forward Jack Adams (22) during the Michigan State-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Saturday, October 29, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

Jack Adams is going back to Boston for Thanksgiving – and he’s bringing his No. 19 Notre Dame hockey team with him.

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound second-year graduate right wing, who scored his first goal of the season last Saturday in a 1-0 victory at Ohio State, grew up in the northern Boston suburb of Boxford, about a 25-mile trip from Boston University’s Agganis Arena. That’s where coach Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish will play the No. 11 Terriers Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Then after the Adams family treats the Irish staff, players and their families to some turkey and all the fixings Thursday at a downtown Boston restaurant, the 25-year-old Adams will lead the Irish into nearby Chestnut Hill to play an improving Boston College Eagles squad Friday at 4 p.m.

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“It’s going to be fun,” Adams said of his return, this time as a member of the Fighting Irish after previously playing as an undergrad at Union and Providence. “We played B.U. a couple of times at Union, and I’ve played against B.C. before. I grew up watching those guys as a youngster.”

As a youngster, Adams remembers watching the Terriers and Eagles coached by a pair of Hockey Hall of Fame coaches — Jack Parker of Boston University and Jerry York at Boston College. The Terriers and Eagles are now coached by alumni in their first seasons behind the bench — B.U. coach Jay Pandolfo played for Parker while B.C. coach Greg Brown was mentored by York.

“Those guys (Parker and York) were my idols growing up, and so were some of their players,” said Adams, whose favorite player, though, was his older brother Mark “Roo” Adams, a defenseman on the 2015 Providence College team which beat Boston University 4-3 for the NCAA championship at TD Garden. 

“Roo” died unexpectedly in 2018 at the age of 27 but will be on Adams’ mind this week as Notre Dame takes a breather from its difficult Big Ten season to play the 7-4 Terriers, who are coming off a weekend Hockey East split with Northeastern, and then the 4-4-2 Eagles, who last played Nov. 15 and beat UMass Lowell 3-2 to continue a three-game unbeaten (2-0-1) streak.

“This is a huge opportunity for our group to make a statement internally as well as nationally,” Adams said. “It’s a chance to show we’re a good hockey team. We just have to go about it one game at a time.”

Last season, Adams scored six goals and totaled 16 points in 38 games for the Irish. Jackson expected big things from him and his linemates — center Hunter Strand and left wing Justin Janicke. But the line struggled early, and Jackson broke it up around the time Adams missed three games (two at Minnesota and the home series opener with Michigan) with a knee infection. He missed a fourth game last Friday battling the flu.

“Every season has its challenges, but you try to learn from them physically and emotionally,” said Adams, who had three assists in his first nine games before finally finding the net last Saturday against the Buckeyes. “I’ve been knocking on the door the last few weeks, so it was nice to get out there Saturday and help the team win.”

No one was happier for Adams then his coach.

“Jack hasn’t been able to get into a groove because he’s been out with injuries,” Jackson said. “But he’s handled it well. He’s played some good games for us. I want to see if he can give us more.”

A little “home” cooking certainly couldn’t hurt.