Pringle engineers potent Illini offense on the ice

Senior Jordan Pringle smiles after body checking a Michigan State opponent at the Ice Arena on Sept. 26. Pringle has been noted for balancing both his athletics and his schoolwork. Erica Magda

Senior Jordan Pringle smiles after body checking a Michigan State opponent at the Ice Arena on Sept. 26. Pringle has been noted for balancing both his athletics and his schoolwork. Erica Magda

By Tony Donisch

Editor’s Note: The Daily Illini sports desk sits down on Sunday nights and decides which Illinois athlete is our Illini of the Week. Student-athletes are evaluated by individual performance, contribution to team success and personal achievement.

Jordan Pringle has two objectives.

On the one hand, the senior mechanical engineering major wants to maintain high grades and work at a patent law firm after graduation.

On the other hand, the captain forward wants to lead Illinois’ reigning National Champion hockey team to a repeat.

Sometimes these two pursuits collide.

Nine hours after scoring a goal and assisting another in a test against No. 11-ranked Oakland University, he needed to go pass a different kind of test.

“It’s kind of funny, we had our game Friday night, and I actually drove to Decatur after our game,” Pringle said. “I stayed in a hotel, and then took the LSAT on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. Then I drove back here and played the game Saturday night. It was an interesting weekend.”

Right after the test, he came back to Champaign to help his team keep its 41-game winning streak and undefeated season intact.

Less than eight hours after sitting at a table taking the biggest exam of his life, he went on the ice to score four times and record two assists in a 12-3 trouncing of Oakland.

“I haven’t had many games even in high school when I’ve had four goals,” said Pringle. “It’s by far my best Illini game.”

Success in hockey and education isn’t all that uncommon for the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Academic All-American.

After his senior year in high school, he was presented with the Blackhawk Alumni Association scholarship, which is awarded to three Illinois high school hockey players every year that display exemplary academic and off-the-ice characteristics, as well as on-the-ice skills.

The scholarship played a role in his decision to attend Illinois.

“When I received my Alumni scholarship, the assistant coach for this year, Nick Fabrini, was there, and he kind of talked to me, and Chad talked to me also,” Pringle said. “That’s when I wasn’t sure where I was going to school, and they talked me into it.”

But his motivation for coming to Illinois was more than just hockey.

“A lot of Division I schools want you to go play juniors for a couple years after high school,” Pringle said. “I knew I wanted to get into engineering, and Illinois is obviously a great school for that. So I wasn’t really looking at that route. A lot of it was academics and the fact that they had a good hockey team was kind of a nice bonus.”

In Pringle’s sophomore year, he was voted by the players as the team’s best forward and most valuable player, and CSCHL league coaches elected him to the CSCHL All-League team last year.

In 107 games during his first three years for the Illini, he had 63 goals and 62 assists.

“He’s one of the most talented kids I’ve seen,” goaltender and roommate Mike Burda said. “He’s quick and shifty. He’s definitely just a natural goal scorer. He can do anything – kill penalties, run power plays. He’s just an all-around great player.”

After playing an integral role on the team since freshman year, Pringle was named captain this season.

“He leads by example all the time,” Burda said. “Whenever there’s any doubt you can always look to Jordan. He’s always working hard and doing the right thing. Not only that, but off the ice he always has the right things to say. He’s such a great example; everyone from young guys to old guys looks to Jordan to see what he’s doing.”

Illinois has advanced to the semifinals of the National Tournament all three years Pringle has been with the team.

The team’s current winning streak began after a destructive loss to Oakland two seasons ago in the semifinals of the tournament. The Illini tied the game in the waning seconds, only to have Oakland’s Will McMahon score with about a minute left to send them packing. So having his performance come against the Grizzlies only made his accomplishment that much sweeter.

“Some of the younger guys don’t really know the history,” Pringle said. “Losing in the National Tournament is the worst day of the year. The seniors have to leave with a loss in their last game. It’s always heartbreaking, especially the way we lost to them. It felt good to beat them.”

Honorable Mention

Juice Williams – Football

The junior quarterback led the Illini to a 45-20 victory at Michigan Stadium on Saturday. Williams threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 121 yards and two more scores. He earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Hillary Haen – Volleyball

The sophomore setter played in the front row in both of the team’s matches last weekend. In the Illini’s victory against Iowa on Saturday, Haen hit .400 and had a team-leading 28 assists. On Friday, Haen had a kill and a block assist in the team’s loss to Minnesota.