WATCH: NY Islanders prospect Danny Nelson scores first NCAA goal for Notre Dame

2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Jason Kempin/GettyImages

The Fighting Irish might as well rename themselves to "The Fighting Freshmen" this season. A year after Notre Dame missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven seasons, youth is being served with the team suiting up eight freshmen for their game against Clarkson on Sunday. Among them is Danny Nelson, the top pick of the New York Islanders at the 2023 NHL Draft.

Leading 1-0 in the third period on a goal by another first-year center, Jayden Davis, Nelson scored his first collegiate goal at 1:13 of the third period to extend the lead on the way to a 3-0 shutout victory. It was the second college game for Nelson, who started on the top line in the season opener, also against Clarkson, centering senior Grant Silianoff and graduate student Trevor Janicke.

Though the Irish are trending younger this season, they still boast All-America graduate goaltender Ryan Bischel between the pipes to the benefit of newcomers like Nelson. “Ryan gives us a ton of confidence,” said the 18-year-old Minnesota-born Nelson. “We’re so comfortable going up the ice knowing we have Bisch back there for us.”

The Islanders selected Nelson at No. 49 overall and he is already being viewed as the team's top prospect in some publications after being ranked No. 22 by NHL Central Scouting (NA skaters) heading into the draft. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Nelson already possesses NHL size but needs to develop more hockey sense and situational awareness that will create more offensive opportunities. The expectation is that Notre Dame head coach Head Coach Jack Jackson will refine those finer points of his game during his time in South Bend.