The 2010 – 2011 hockey season promises to be one of change and excitement for Illinois State’s second team, the ISU Redbirds D3. For the first time, the Redbirds D3 will compete for regional and national ranking as part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s Division 3, North Region.
This is made possible due to the team’s solid performance over the past two years and the twelve outstanding new players who are joining the twelve returning veterans. The Redbirds had an outstanding class of recruits and walk-out prospects which elevated to D3 team’s talent level significantly.
The Redbirds D3 will be led this season by Coach Rick Nagorski. The Minnedosa, Manitoba native grew up 150 miles west of Winnipeg. Coach Nagorski played competitively in Manitoba until turning his focus to chemistry at the University of Brandon in Manitoba. A Ph.D. from the University of Alberta at Edmonton led him to a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of New York at Buffalo. Coach Nagorski strayed from hockey country in 1997 when he took a professorship at Illinois State University in 1997. But hockey came back to him in 2005 when he was an assistant coach with Coach Corley and Coach Ferleyko as the trio restarted the ISU hockey program. Coach Nagorski returned to ISU hockey in 2009, assisting Coach Mussey with the ISU JV team. They led the JV team to a MACHA – Silver playoff appearance and they battled Robert Morris University for the MCHL Title, finishing runner-up.
Coach Nagorski relates, “It is always tough to follow in the footsteps of an excellent coach and that is my task now following Steve Mussey. I have an excellent coaching team around me and I am confident that this year's D3 Redbirds will experience new heights of success with the talent that I have seen on the ice this year. Go Redbird Hockey!!”
Coach Nagorski will be assisted by three former Redbird players. Assistant Coach Joe Schaber is completing his degree in agriculture. The Peoria, Illinois native grew up in the Peoria Jr. Rivermen travel system, winning the Illinois State Championship as a bantam and reaching the state championship again as a midget major. Joe went on to play ACHA D1 hockey at St. Louis University. He transferred to ISU and played in the 2007 and 2008 seasons for the Redbirds D2 team. He was a full time assistant with the ISU JV team for 2009 and also assisted the D2 team.
New to the coaching staff is James Andreoni. James is a senior in finance at ISU. He had played for ISU since transferring from Western Michigan for the 2008 season. James suffered a season ending injury early in the 2009 season. James is a graduate of Naperville Central and was a big part of their successes in the mid 2000s.
Also assisting Coach Nagorski is senior Derrick Korbecki. Derrick had played for the past three years for the ISU JV team after finishing his high school career with Jacobs High School and the Barrington Redwings Midget Major organization. Derrick is a senior in Communication Studies. An interesting trivia tidbit, Derrick’s father was the goaltender at Notre Dame High School of the Chicago Catholic League while ISU’s D2 Coach Corley was there playing left wing and center.
The Illinois State Redbirds added a second team for the 2007 – 2008 season. They were referred to as the Illinois State University IceBirds for two years. Last season the name was changed to the ISU Redbirds JV. The ACHA has three divisions. Both ISU teams were in Division 2 for the past three years. The leadership group at ISU inspired a group of MACHA Silver teams to join them in a move to the ACHA Division 3 for this coming season and beyond. Now you have the ISU Redbirds D3! The team was assigned to the North Region of the ACHA D3. This will give the Redbirds D3 an opportunity to play both meaningful league games in MACHA Silver Division and compete for Regional and National D3 Ranking, and a shot at a D3 National Championship. A new era has begun for Illinois State University hockey with teams in both the ACHA D2 and ACHA D3.
The ISU Redbirds D3 competes in the Mid-America Collegiate Hockey Association – Silver Division, Northern Conference. The MACHA Is made up of two levels, Gold (ISU Redbirds) and Silver (Redbirds D3). The Silver Division is so large with 15 teams, it is broken down regionally into a Northern and Southern Conference. Some MACHA Silver teams have remained in the ACHA D2, but about half have moved to the ACHA D3 along with ISU.