Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 56 of 63 AUGUST 2017 57 IRISH IN THE PROS BY STEVE DOWNEY M ichigan natives Ian Cole and Bryan Rust grew up in the 1990s root- ing for the high-powered Detroit Red Wings teams led by Hall-of-Fame center Steve Yzerman. Little did they know then that they would go on to achieve a rare feat last accomplished by their favorite team. In June, Cole and Rust helped the Pittsburgh Penguins become the NHL's first back-to-back Stanley Cup champions since Yzerman and the Red Wings did it in 1997-98. The Pens fought off a challenge from the upstart Nashville Predators to hoist the Cup after a 2-0 victory June 11 clinched a 4-2 series win. "I've gotten in plenty of conversa- tions about the '97-98 Wings," Rust told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Being from Michigan and how awesome it is to be in the same breath as those guys, as Stevie Y, one of my idols growing up. Getting chills just thinking about it." "I remember watching those Red Wings teams," Cole added. "It was something special to watch those teams. I remember the way I felt watching those teams win consecutive Cups. I knew if there was a team that could do it, it would be us. "We had a ton of confidence, all the confidence in the world — it was something that no one on the team gave up." It didn't come easy for the Penguins. After a 4-1 series win over Columbus in the first round, they were taken to the limit in the Eastern Conference semifinals and finals before topping Washington and Ottawa, respectively, with 4-3 series victories. "[Penguins head coach Mike Sul- livan] drove the point of 'cementing your own legacy,'" Cole said. "We knew it was going to be a challenge to do it. There's a reason no one had done it for a long time." Rust, a 2014 Notre Dame graduate, is in his third year with the Penguins. He saw action in 57 contests during the regular season and tallied 28 points (15 goals and 13 assists). The 5-11, 192-pound right winger played in 23 of Pittsburgh's 25 playoff games and posted nine points (seven goals and two assists). He notched a goal and an assist against the Predators in the Stanley Cup Finals. Rust has been especially clutch in the postseason during his young ca- reer. He has eight goals in 15 career elimination games, and posted game- winning tallies that clinched two of the Pens' four playoff series (Columbus and Washington). Cole was selected in the first round by the St. Louis Blues in the 2007 NHL Draft, but opted to attend Notre Dame. The 6-1, 219-pound defenseman was an All-American with the Irish in 2009 and turned pro after his junior season. He eventually came back to the uni- versity and finished his degree in 2013. After five seasons with the Blues, Cole joined the Penguins for the 2014- 15 campaign. This past season, he played in 81 games and notched 26 points (five goals and 21 assists). In 25 postseason games in 2017, he totaled nine assists despite playing with a bro- ken hand and broken ribs. "Any injury that I had should get better with rest and time off, and not getting run through the boards any- more," Cole said after clinching the Cup. "So that'll be good." Cole and Rust became the third and fourth Irish alums to win mul- tiple Stanley Cup championships, join- ing Bill Nyrop (1976, 1977 and 1978 with the Montreal Canadiens) and Don Jackson (1983 and 1984 with the Edmonton Oilers). Brett Lebda (2008 with the Detroit Red Wings) and Mark Eaton (2009 with the Pittsburgh Pen- guins) each hoisted it once. In addition, Notre Dame alum Stan Bowman was part of Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015 with the Chicago Blackhawks while serving as the senior vice president/general manager. PAT CONNAUGHTON CONTINUES TO PURSUE NBA DREAM Pat Connaughton has played in only 73 of a possible 164 regular-season games with the Portland Trail Blazers Ian Cole And Bryan Rust Help Penguins To Back-To-Back Stanley Cups Cole and Rust showed off the Stanley Cup at an Irish football game in Notre Dame Stadium last September after winning it in 2016. This year, they helped the Penguins become the NHL's first back-to- back champs in 19 years. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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