New front line leads to success for Illinois hockey

Illinois hockey head coach Chad Cassel debuted a line featuring forwards Austin Bostock, Mike McBride and Sam Fatigato on Saturday.

The line performed well in its first game, scoring four of the Illini’s five goals in the team’s 5-2 win over Indiana. Fatigato said all three of them being on the ice at the same time just felt natural.

“We’re really good friends off the ice, but we each bring a little something different to the line,” said Fatigato. “Austin’s the energy guy, works really hard; and then you got McBride, who’s patient with the puck, knows what to do with it; and then I come in. We just mix in, and it just so happened that it worked well this weekend.”

McBride and Fatigato are both seniors and have been mentoring the younger Bostock, a sophomore. After Friday night’s game, McBride and Bostock spent some extra time at the Ice Arena discussing the game, in which Bostock had been held scoreless. The two played together frequently last year, but a shoulder injury to McBride has limited their play together this season.

Whatever McBride told him seemed to work — Bostock had four points the next night.

“Austin is a great teammate, a great kid to play with and he’s got a lot of energy,” McBride said. “(Friday) he made a couple mistakes. I did the best I could to keep his head in and not to let him get down on himself, and (Fatigato) was doing the same thing and I think our line really clicked this weekend. We keep each other up, staying positive.”

Bostock called McBride his mentor and gave him credit for keeping him encouraged all weekend and for his performance Saturday. Bostock can be credited with an assist, too; it was off his pass that McBride scored his second goal on the year on an empty netter to seal Saturday’s win.

Fatigato also scored a goal Saturday night with a joint assist from McBride and Bostock. Both goals scored by Bostock came from a Fatigato assist.

“I actually too have been on kind of a slump with the goal scoring department,” Fatigato said. “Playing with Mike McBride and Austin Bostock, it makes things a lot easier. They both work really hard, and when you got two guys working hard it makes you want to just keep it simple, get pucks to the net, make the easy play. And by simplifying the play, I think things just started working for me.”