Notre Dame hockey: Opening night finally arrives
Caught between ending their time at the Joyce Center and moving to the new Compton Family Ice Arena, the team has been in a bit of a limbo.
“It was a little strange,” said Lorenz, a senior captain. “We were still occasionally practicing over at the new place.
“It was a little bit weird, kind of going back and forth.”
But now the long wait is over.
The Irish officially open the $50 million Compton Family Ice Arena Friday night at 7:30 against Rensselaer.
And for Lorenz, the wait really has been even longer.
When he was recruited to Notre Dame, he was told the new facility -- be it a refurbishing and upgrading of the Joyce Center or a new stand-alone arena -- would be done for his sophomore season.
But the state of the economy helped push that back, Lorenz said. And the defenseman has no complaints.
“I am glad that they took their time because it’s something special,” Lorenz said.
“It’s unbelievable. I’ve walked through a lot of NHL rinks and other college rinks and this is pretty close to the top.
“Everything from the locker room, to our changing area to the bathrooms, the shooting area, the stick prep room. There’s so much stuff that they’ve put in there for us. It’s pretty amazing.”
Even the stands impressed him Wednesday night.
Down on the ice of the Lefty Smith Rink it’s also a step up.
“The actual ice, with the new refrigeration system, the ice is much better than it was in the JACC,” Lorenz said. “It’s a lot smoother, a lot faster.”
And it’s 10 feet wider on the Smith rink than the Joyce Center, Lorenz said. The Olympic rink at the west end of the building is another 10 feet wider than the main arena.
“Pretty much everything about it is an upgrade,” Lorenz said.
And Friday against Rensselaer (1-3), the Irish need to upgrade their game a bit.
Slow starts have haunted the Irish (2-2), who have split series at Minnesota Duluth and at home against Ohio State. Three third-period goals Saturday were not enough to overcome Ohio State.
“Every game we have kind of gotten out to a slow start. The reason behind that is not really clear yet,” Lorenz said. “We’ve been working on making sure we’re staying focused.
“We can play the hockey to where we can dominate any team we played. We just got to do that from the start. We are going to have to pick it up here in the new building. We’re excited about that.”
The Irish will likely receive a boost from opening the new arena, which has a capacity of just over 5,000 and will be full Friday, complete with the band and the student section. The new arena seats about 2,300 more than the old one.
“I definitely think it will (help) just from an atmosphere point of view,” Lorenz said. “If that place is packed and it’s loud and people are excited to see us play, I think it will be a lot easier to get up for games.”
Lorenz is among many players and coaches looking forward to the game against the Engineers, who Lorenz described as an aggressive, fast-paced team, kind of like Ohio State.
“We are looking forward to Friday night and see how loud it can get,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson told the fans Wednesday night at the season-ticket holder open house. “And you’re going to be a part of that.”
Staff writer Jim Meenan: