Chance meeting and golden helmets brought Jesse Lansdell and Notre Dame hockey together

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent
Notre Dame's Jesse Lansdell (14) during the Notre Dame vs. Minnesota NCAA hockey game Friday, Jan. 13, 2023 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

SOUTH BEND — You could say that Jesse Lansdell’s Notre Dame hockey career began with some luck of the Irish.

During his 2014-15 hockey season, Lansdell was playing for the Yale Hockey Academy Prep team from Abbotsford, British Columbia, in the Bauer World Invite tournament in Chicago. Among those watching was Notre Dame associate head coach Andy Slaggert, whose son Graham was playing for the Chicago Mission team.

“I honestly got lucky,” the 24-year-old left wing Lansdell remembered earlier this week as Notre Dame prepared for an important Big Ten series with No. 7 Ohio State this weekend at the Compton Family Ice Arena. “We ended up winning the tournament — and that’s when I first started talking to coach Slaggert. He just continued to watch me.”

More:Missed chances, rough second period lead to Notre Dame hockey's 3-0 loss at Michigan State

Slaggert kept in touch as Lansdell, a native of Surrey, British Columbia, returned to play for two junior teams in the British Columbia Hockey League — the Chilliwack Chiefs and Vernon Vipers — before arriving at Notre Dame as a 20-year-old prior to his 2019-20 freshman season.

Lansdell, who hoped to play major junior hockey for a team in the Western Hockey League but wasn’t drafted at age 14, had little idea which colleges in the United States had the best hockey programs. And that included the alma mater — Northeastern — of his hockey playing uncle, Brad Klyn.

“I based my favorite teams on their uniforms and Notre Dame was up there because of the (golden) helmets,” Lansdell chuckled.

The 5-foot-11, 188-pound Lansdell has worn his golden helmet well during his four seasons at Notre Dame, totaling 18 goals (five game-winners) and 32 assists for 50 points with 79 blocked shots in 130 games. This season as the 13-14-3 (8-10-2 Big Ten) Irish have struggled offensively, Lansdell has 13 points and five goals, including game-winners against Northern Michigan and Boston College. Defensively, he has blocked 18 shots.

“After liking their uniforms, I looked into Notre Dame and found it was an awesome school as well,” said Lansdell, a business major in management consulting. “It’s hard thinking that I’m done here in a few months. It kind of feels like we just got here. It’s been a crazy four years, but it’s been an unbelievable experience.”

Notre Dame forward Solag Bakich (25) and Michigan forward Dylan Duke (25) battle for the puck behind the net during the Michigan-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Saturday, November 12, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said Lansdell and fellow senior Solag Bakich, a 25-year-old left wing from Dallas, Texas, and the son of former Notre Dame linebacker Huntley Bakich, have played similar roles for the Irish. The 6-foot, 195-pound Bakich has two goals and four assists for six points in 28 games this season (12-19-31 in 101 career games).

“Solag and Jesse have been tenacious, hard-working, physical players for us,” Jackson said. “They’ve given us some timely goals at times. Their game is about compete and playing physical, something we lacked when we brought them in. But for me, it’s always been more about the people than the hockey players.”

Here’s what Jackson had to say about Notre Dame’s other eight senior or graduate players who will be honored along with Lansdell and Bakich after Saturday’s game with the Buckeyes

On Ryan Bischel

Senior goalie from Medina, Minnesota (2022-23, 30 games, 13-14-2 record, 2.49 goals-against average, .927 saves percentage, four shutouts / overall, 62 games, 29-23-3, 2.44, .921, six shutouts)

Notre Dame's Ryan Bischel (30) makes a stop during the Notre Dame vs. Minnesota NCAA hockey game Friday, Jan. 13, 2023 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

“Ryan didn’t play regularly until this past year. He’s handled himself very professionally and gotten better and better which is a credit to him.”

On Nick Leivermann

Graduate defenseman and captain from Eden Prairie, Minnesota (22 games, 5-11-16 / 140 games at Notre Dame, 22-52-74)

Notre Dame defenseman Nick Leivermann (4) during the Michigan State-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Saturday, October 29, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

“Nick has always been a talent as far as his offensive ability as a defenseman,” Jackson said. “He’s an interesting type of leader, very businesslike in his approach. I think that speaks to his maturity — he’s a quality guy and has his head on straight.”

On Trevor Janicke

Senior right wing and alternate captain from Maple Grove, Minnesota (30 games, 8-10-18 / 136 games at Notre Dame, 35-30-65)

Notre Dame's Trevor Janicke (27) tries to get the puck away from Minnesota's Logan Cooley (92) during the Notre Dame vs. Minnesota NCAA hockey game Friday, Jan. 13, 2023 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

“Trevor is a legacy with his Dad (Curtis Janicke, who played for Irish from 1989-93 and scored 144 points) and brother Justin (an Irish sophomore),” Jackson said. “He’s developed into more of a power forward as well with a little more offensive potential. He’s also a rock star in the classroom (Academic All-Big Ten)."

On Jack Adams 

Two-year graduate right wing from Boxford, Massachusetts (25 games, 4-5-9 / 135 games, 24-36-60 include three seasons at Union, one season at Providence and two seasons at Notre Dame)

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.

“Everyone knows Jack’s story, all the things he’s gone through (Adams tore his knee in a Red Wings Development game while at Union and lost his brother Mark “Roo” Adams, a member of the 2015 NCAA title team at Providence, to a heart attack at 27 in 2018). He’s persevered — just a great kid,” Jackson said. 

On Chase Blackmun

Two-year graduate defenseman from Hudson, Wisconsin (23 games, 2-9-11 in 2022-23 / 148 games, 20-49-69 three seasons at UMass Lowell and two seasons at Notre Dame)

Notre Dame's Chase Blackmun (5) shoots during the Notre Dame vs. RIT NCAA hockey game Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

“Chase is a classy kid who does things the right way, is great in the classroom and just a good citizen,” Jackson said.

On Ben Brinkman 

Graduate defenseman from Edina, Minnesota (28 games, 2-1-3 / 168 games, 4-22-26 include four seasons at Minnesota)

“Ben was someone we recruited before he went off to Minnesota; he’s gotten to play more here than he did at Minnesota,” Jackson said. 

On Jackson Pierson

Graduate center from Zionsville, Indiana, and Culver Academy (30 games, 1-8-9 / 145 games, 32-65-97 include four seasons at New Hampshire)

Notre Dame's Jackson Pierson and Western Michigan's Luke Grainger battle behind the net during the Western Michigan-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Friday, October 21, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

“A very committed and diligent young man, Jackson has had a different impact with our younger guys – he’s a good guy to watch (on) how he approaches the game,” the Irish coach said.

On Chayse Primeau 

Graduate center from Margate City, New Jersey (30 games, 8-12-20 / 147 games, 37-55-92 include four seasons at Omaha)

Notre Dame's Chayse Primeau during the Western Michigan-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Friday, October 21, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

“Chayse (the son of ex-NHL standout Keith Primeau) is a high-quality guy who is very coachable and is very attentive to the details of the game,” Jackson said.

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

When/Where: Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m. at Lefty Smith Rink (4,852) in Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend.

Records: Ohio State is 17-10-1 overall and 10-8-0 in Big Ten for 30 points, tied for second with Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. … Notre Dame is 13-14-3 overall and 8-10-2 in Big Ten for 26 points and sixth place.

Media: Radio, WZOC-FM (94.3) and

TV/Streaming: Peacock.

Last weekend: Ohio State split Big Ten home series with Penn State, losing 4-3 Friday and winning 4-2 Saturday. … Notre Dame was swept in Big Ten away series by Michigan State, 3-0 and 3-2.

Big Ten standings:1.Minnesota 14-3-1, 43 points (20-7-1 overall); 2T. Ohio State 10-8-0, 30 points (17-10-1 overall); 2T. Michigan 10-8-0, 30 points (18-9-1 overall); 2T. Penn State 9-10-1, 30 points (19-10-1 overall); 2T. Michigan State 9-9-2, 30 points (15-13-2 overall); 6. Notre Dame 8-10-2, 26 points (13-14-3 overall); 7. Wisconsin 3-15-0, 9 points (10-18-0 overall).

Rankings: Ohio State is ranked No. 7 in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine coaches’ poll and media poll. … Notre Dame is receiving votes in both. … In this week’s NCAA Tournament Pairwise Comparison Ratings which help determine the 16-team field, Ohio State is No. 8 and Notre Dame is No. 19. … According to the KRACH ratings, Notre Dame is No. 1 in strength of schedule and Ohio State is No. 7.Coaches: Ohio State, Steve Rohlik (179-137-37 in 10th season at school and overall) and Notre Dame, Jeff Jackson (389-244-69 in 18th season at Notre Dame and 571-296-94 in 24th season overall).

Rivalry: The teams split series Nov. 18-19 in Columbus. … Notre Dame leads 43-42-11 in series which began with 7-1 Irish victory at OSU Ice Arena on March 1, 1969.

Buckeyes won opener 5-2 as senior left wing Tate Singleton had a goal and two assists, freshman right wing Davis Burnside had a goal and an assist and sophomore goaltender Jakub Dobeš made 30 saves. … Senior right wing Trevor Janicke and freshman right wing Fin Williams scored for the Irish. … Notre Dame won series finale as senior goaltender Ryan Bischel made 37 saves, 19 in the third period to make graduate right wing Jack Adams’ first-period goal stand up. …

Scouting Buckeyes: Freshman center Stephen Halliday (7-23-30) was named Big Ten Third Star of Week after five-assist weekend against Nittany Lions. … Halliday is followed on scoring list by fifth-year center Jake Wise (9-15-24), Singleton (8-14-22) and sophomore defenseman Mason Lohrei (1-20-21). … Dobeš has 2.25 goals-against average, .919 saves percentage and three shutouts. … Buckeyes shine in special teams with 25 power-play goals (six each by Halliday, Wise and junior right wing Travis Treloar) and nation-best nine shorthanded goals (two each by junior center Patrick Guzzo and Burnside).

… NCAA team statistics (out of 61 teams as of Feb. 5): Scoring offense, 3.50 goals per game (11th); scoring defense, 2.39 goals per game (10th); scoring margin, 1.11 goals per game (10th); face off-win percentage, 0.484 (860-918) (41st); power-play percentage, 0.217 (25 of 115) (21st); power-play goals scored, 25 (12th); penalty-kill percentage, 0.891 (98 of 110) (1st); shorthanded goals scored, 9 (1st); team penalty minutes per game, 12.25 (12th).

Scouting Fighting Irish: Grad center Chayse Primeau (8-12-20) and junior right wing Ryder Rolston (7-13-20) lead Irish in scoring ahead of Trevor Janicke (8-10-18) and grad defenseman Nick Leivermann (5-11-16). … Rolston is out after surgery for a broken collarbone suffered against Wisconsin. ... Bischel leads nation in saves (928) and has .927 saves percentage (sixth), four shutouts (tied for fifth) and 2.49 goals-against average (44th). … Unless Irish can finish fourth or higher in regular-season standings to gain hosting duties for first round of Big Ten playoffs, Saturday will be last home game for four seniors (goalie Bischel, left wings Jesse Lansdell and Solag Bakich and Trevor Janicke) and six graduate players (defensemen Ben Brinkman, Leivermann and Chase Blackmun and forwards Jackson Pierson, Primeau and Adams).

… They all will be honored following Saturday’s game. … NCAA team statistics (out of 61 teams as of Feb. 5): Scoring offense, 2.37 goals per game (51st); scoring defense, 2.73 goals per game (27th); scoring margin, -0.37 goals by per game (38th); faceoff-win percentage, 0.495 (903-920) (31st); power-play percentage, 0.186 (19 of 102) (35th); power-play goals scored, 19 (31st); penalty-kill percentage, 0.755 (80 of 106) (56th); shorthanded goals scored, 2 (27th); team penalty minutes per game, 11.83 (17th).

Quoting Jeff Jackson:(On the Buckeyes) “They are a very balanced hockey team, deep in every position. They are a hard team to play against defensively. We were fortunate enough to win the second night down there. The biggest challenge you always have against them is trying to hold a lead because they do have offensive potential to score on four lines. That’s what makes them such a challenging team. They may not have all the first-rounders like Minnesota or Michigan, but they certainly have scoring depth on every line that makes them a dangerous team.”

Next up: Ohio State returns to Columbus to play No. 5 Michigan Thursday and then the two teams travel to FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland for Saturday afternoon outdoors game. … Idle next weekend, Notre Dame travels to Michigan to conclude regular season Feb. 24-25.

John Fineran, Tribune Correspondent