The next Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey player in our player profile series is senior Jordan Gross. The 22 year old from Maple Grove, Minnesota is a defenseman that puts up numbers that would be impressive for a forward. A huge key to Notre Dame’s success in 2017-18 has been the experienced defensive unit, led by Gross. His play has garnered national attention, with a nomination for the 2018 Hobey Baker Award.
For the second straight week, Notre Dame has the top ranking in both college hockey polls. The defense has to get a great deal of credit for the Irish being recognized as the top team in the country. Through 22 games of the 2017-18 campaign, Gross and the Irish rank third in team defense, as only the Cornell Big Red and Clarkson Golden Knights have allowed fewer goals per game.
Without question, Gross is one of the leaders on this stellar Notre Dame defense. His 18 points are more than any other defenseman on the team. What’s more impressive, the only Irish hockey player with more points than Gross is captain Jake Evans. Among Big Ten defensemen, he is currently tied for the conference lead in goals with Matt Miller of the Ohio State Buckeyes and is second in points only to Trevor Hamilton of the Penn State Nittany Lions. Gross isn’t shy to take a shot when needed either, as he leads the nation in shots on goal for a blueliner. Shooters shot. Take a look at this beauty.
Gross from distance!— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) November 18, 2017
ICYMI last night, here's how Jordan Gross sealed last night's win with his 1st career shorthanded goal pic.twitter.com/oT5IDsy6kT
Starting with his freshman season, Gross hit the ground running and has not looked back. He suited up for 42 games as a freshman, which so far is the most during his tenure at Notre Dame. In those 42 games, he tallied 7 goals and 21 assists. To put into perspective how ready he was that season, he put up near identical numbers in his sophomore and junior seasons; 9 goals with 22 assists and 10 goals with 22 assists, respectively. His spectacular play did not go unnoticed, as he was named Second Team All-Star to the Hockey East conference as a sophomore and earned honorable mention to the Hockey East All-Star team in Notre Dame’s final year in the conference as a junior. He was also named to the NCAA Northeast Regional All-Tournament Team during last year’s Frozen Four run.
Prior to making a name for himself as an outstanding offensive defenseman at Notre Dame, Gross was a member of the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League for two seasons and change. A first round pick in the 2011 USHL futures draft, Gross played in only 6 games in his first season but tasted success on a team that won the USHL championship. During his time in Green Bay, he gave the top junior league in the US a preview of things to come, as he racked up 58 points and 43 penalty minutes over 120 games and was named as a participant in the USHL/NHL Top Prospect Game.
This year’s Notre Dame hockey squad appears to be clicking on all cylinders thus far. Undefeated in the Big Ten and on the road, it’s shaping up to be another historic season for the Irish before it’s all said and done. Historic is a great way of describing Gross’s four years at Notre Dame. The current school record for points by a defenseman in his career is 123 by John Schmidt who played under coach Lefty Smith from 1978-82. In 141 games as an Irish defenseman, he has 109 points which ties him for third on the all-time list. There are only 12 games left in the season, so it’s not likely that he’ll break Schmidt’s record, but at the rate he’s going, anything is possible.
Along with the likes of Bobby Nardella, Andrew Peeke, Dennis Gilbert, and more, Gross is part of a defensive unit that is one of the most feared in the nation. The Irish still have a series with each of the other six Big Ten teams, so there is still a lot of hockey left to be played prior to the Big Ten tournament and beyond. To continue to enjoy success on the level of last year’s Frozen Four appearance, the Irish powerplay will need to be reliable. Being one of the top puck-moving defensemen in the country, Gross will be the spark the Irish look to when they’re on the man advantage.