Roesch, Illini atop American Collegiate Hockey standings

Illinois forward Jordan Pringle sets up a play against Indiana Unviersity´s defense during Illinois´ second game at the University Ice Arena Saturday. Illinois beat Indiana 3-1. Adam Babcock

Illinois forward Jordan Pringle sets up a play against Indiana Unviersity´s defense during Illinois´ second game at the University Ice Arena Saturday. Illinois beat Indiana 3-1. Adam Babcock

By Jason Grodsky

Illini men’s hockey senior forward Mike Roesch finds himself in a familiar place, atop the American Collegiate Hockey Association player rankings.

Coming off one of the best seasons in Illini hockey history, in which he won the ACHA Player of the Year award, Roesch has made himself a household name and is making a run at back-to-back Player of the Year awards.

After scoring four goals and assisting on three others in last weekend’s wins against Indiana, Roesch moved ahead of Towson University’s Troy Mansilla to become the points leader in the ACHA.

Roesch has tallied 12 goals and 22 assists in 13 games so far this season, leading the No.1 ranked Illini to a perfect record of 14-0. His 34 points are 11 more than any other Illini player.

“Mike is a very skilled offensive player,” head coach Chad Cassel said. “He has the best hands of any player that I have ever coached at Illinois. He is able to put up big numbers every year for us and is definitely a leader when it comes to making things happen for us offensively.”

Coming into this season Roesch was faced with the task of adjusting to playing with different linemates that feature sophomores Drew Heredia and Joey Resch. The adjustment has been beneficial for all of players, and Roesch credits his success to his linemates.

“It has a lot to do with my linemates,” Roesch said. “Joey has stepped up big time this year. When you play with guys like him and Heredia, they are able to get the puck on your stick, and at the same time, every time you give them the puck they are bound to put it in the net.”

His great on-ice vision and incredible ability to get his teammates the puck for good scoring opportunities makes Roesch one of the most difficult players to defend in the ACHA.

“Because Mike sees the ice so well and is able to make plays and make things happen, that enables him to make his linemates better,” Cassel said. “If they are open, he is going to get them the puck and vice-versa. All three of them complement each other very well because they are all very unselfish players that do not care who is scoring the goals or getting the assists, as long as they are producing.”

Roesch and the rest of the Illini head into this weekend’s games at Kent State seeking more consistency. The Illini have made a habit of blowing out opponents in Friday night contests, but struggle to have the same dominate form in Saturday night games.

“I would like to see us put two good games together back-to-back on a weekend,” Cassel said. “All in all, it’s another road test for us, and once again we’re looking forward to getting eight more points in the conference and for more consistency.”

The 20th-ranked Golden Flashes (4-10, 0-8) enter this weekend’s games seeking to break a four-game losing streak and obtain their first Central States Conference Hockey League conference victory.

“It will be nice to go to Kent State,” Roesch said. “They always give us a good game at their barn, and every league game is a big one for us.”