Captain Dan Dickson returns for his senior season after leading the our team in goals for the second straight season. He is also coming off being named HM All-American in 2011. All I can say about Dan is that he is a cold-blooded scorer who always finds himself in the right place at the right time. We can expect Dan to create more this season, as he will have to pick up some of the slack with the loss of Scott Pfiffner.
Also holding down the Attack is Sam Weinstein who returns after his freshman season who was third in points (44) for us. Sam and Dan make up a dynamic duo and will cause some headaches for defensemen all over the country.
Captain Rhys Southworth, our 2011 MVP, also comes back for one more season. He is the definition of a two way middie, something that is rare to see now days in this sport. Rhys plays on both extra man offense and man down defense while also taking the wing on face offs. He led the team in GBs (70) and created countless transition opportunities. He is a natural leader and the smartest player I’ve ever coached, we can expect big things from Rhys in his final season.
Nate Coburn is an invaluable member to the team. Coming off an All-American season for his efforts at the face off x we can expect him to take the majority of the draws. He is a one-man fast break and creates lots of quick scoring opportunities for us. He also keeps other teams from gaining any sort of momentum.
After battling a heal fracture for the majority of the 2011 season senior captain Christian Holmes returns to the field. Having Holmes back is huge for us. He is the leader of our defense and quite simply he makes everyone around him play better. He’s big, tall, has great footwork, and is confident with the ball. He’s everything you want in a defenseman.
Other than the players already mentioned we only graduated four players from the 2011 season. We return all four starting long polls and picked up impact freshmen Peter Reilly out of New Trier High School. Our D is extremely athletic with great stick skills. One thing I preach is creating transition opportunities and our polls have that ability.
Offensively we return over 70% of our offensive production including eight of our top 10 scorers.
With the restructuring of the GRLC the road to nationals is set, anything short of a trip to Greenville will be a disappointment for the eight seniors on the team.
We followed our typical OOC recipe when scheduling this season. We play all but one Big Ten school and have our annual spring break trip. This year we head to Oregon where we will play University of Oregon and Simon Fraser University. We return to the Midwest for road games against Minnesota-Duluth and Michigan State in the month of April. We are guaranteed to play three teams that will make the trip to Greenville and if we can come up with some big wins we’ll have the opportunity to grab a favorable seed in the national tournament.
The Fighting Illini open their season March 3rd in Chicago against cross-divisional opponent Iowa followed by Marquette the following day.