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March 22, 2012
Transition has started for the Notre Dame hockey team as it moves into the offseason. That means losing one of its top players while keeping another.
Junior center Riley Sheahan has chosen to forego his final year of college eligibility in favor of being signed by the Detroit Red Wings, which drafted him in the first round two years ago. Sheahan will play out the remainder of the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League.
“It’s obviously very exciting just to be in the organization and around all of these great players,” Sheahan told DetroitRedWings.com on Tuesday. “And I’ll just have to work my way up, and in a few years maybe get a chance to play in the big league.
“Leaving Notre Dame was a tough decision. I made a lot of close friends there, met a lot of really nice people, but I think it was time to move on. My focus is on being a hockey player and I think the better atmosphere for that (is) being here.”
In three years at Notre Dame, Sheahan accumulated 20 goals and 44 assists while playing in 114 games. He became a reliable defensive forward along the way and played prominent roles on the penalty kill and power play.
Detroit selected Sheahan, who came to South Bend as a 17-year old freshman, with the 21st overall pick of the 2010 NHL Draft.
“He’s a big, strong power forward,” Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill told DetroitRedWings.com, “and very responsible with the puck, good two-way defensively and still has good offensive skills.”
Sheahan will join former Irish goaltender Jordan Pearce in the Red Wings organization. Pearce has spent most of this season in Grand Rapids but is currently with Detroit awaiting a chance to make his NHL debut.
Meanwhile, the program announced sophomore winger Anders Lee will stay at Notre Dame after the New York Islanders made a play to sign him away.
The Islanders drafted Lee, a native of Edina, Minn., during the sixth round of the 2009 NHL Draft. He has since grown into a coveted prospect perhaps ready to compete in the league right away, at least from a physical perspective.
“I look forward to returning to Notre Dame next season to work towards my degree while pursuing a championship on the ice with my teammates,” Lee said in a statement. “I plan to continue to develop all aspects of my game and hope to someday pursue a career in the National Hockey League with the New York Islanders.”
Lee served as an alternate captain last season and has led the Irish in goals each of his first two years on campus. He scored 24 as a freshman and 17 this past season while finishing second on the team in points behind fellow sophomore T.J. Tynan.
Adding it all together, Lee has 78 points (41 goals, 38 assists) in 84 collegiate games.
“I know that when we recruited Anders he expressed how important getting a degree from Notre Dame was to him and his family,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said in a statement. “I expected him to complete his junior year and to be one of our team leaders for the 2012-13 season.”
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