Illinois hockey welcomes former player as new head coach

The new Illinois hockey coach will be familiar with his surroundings before his first day on the job.

On Wednesday, former player and assistant coach Nick Fabbrini was named as the new coach of the hockey club this fall.

“It was a great opportunity for me,” he said of his decision to apply. “The coaching thing kinda just made sense because I enjoy it. I like working with kids and the opportunity to give back.”

Fabbrini played for the Illini from 2005-08, was a member of the 2005 ACHA Championship team and a major contributor on the 2008 ACHA Championship team, which culminated in a perfect season.

But during his time with the Illini he said he did not think about coaching as much of a possibility.

“When I was playing, I ran some summer camps and clinics, but to be honest, I didn’t think too far past playing while I was skating,” Fabbrini said. “I kinda thought about it but it wasn’t foremost in my mind.”

He joined the Illini as an assistant under previous head coach Chad Cassel for the 2008-09 season before coaching in the Chicago suburbs for the past two years. Cassel, who retired at the end of last season, called Fabbrini about the opening and encouraged him to apply.

Now that he is the head coach, he wants to make one thing clear.

“I’m not really here to be (the player’s) friend,” he said. “I’m their coach first. I’m here for any problem they might have away from the rink in that aspect. But I don’t think my age should diminish their credibility with them.

“If anything, it will help me relate to them,” Fabbrini said.

Sophomore forward Eddie Quagliata said likewise.

“He was in our shoes just a short time ago, and it’s nice to have a guy you can approach like that with any problems or questions,” he said.

The Illini will have to transition from a coach who has been with them for about 15 years to a relatively new face and this means new workouts. As for one of the changes, Fabbrini looks to implement off-ice training in the coming weeks.

Sophomore forward Austin Bostock said while no one knows what to expect of Fabbrini as the coach, the hardest thing about transitioning coaches is learning their systems.

“Before I came (to the University), I was coached a completely different way than Chad taught us, not necessarily a good or bad way but just different,” Bostock said.