Illinois hockey coach named U.S. Men’s National University Hockey Team assistant

It’s been a busy September for Nick Fabbrini.

This month Fabbrini, ’09 ACCY, was named as an assistant coach for the 2019 U.S. Men’s National University Hockey Team, which will compete in the 2019 Winter World University Games from March 2-12 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity,” Fabbrini said.

Fabbrini is also starting his seventh season as head coach and general manager of the men’s hockey club team at the University of Illinois, which begins its season Sept. 28 at home against Michigan State.

Fabbrini, a Forest Park native and former Fenwick High School and Illini star, is returning to the 2019 U.S. Men’s National University Team coaching staff for the second consecutive tournament. He led the University of Illinois to an appearance in the 2018 American Collegiate Hockey Association national championship game.

“Illinois’ program has done so well because Chicago and central Illinois have produced some great players over the years, and this campus definitely has a taste for hockey,” Fabbrini said. “When a lot of people hear that it’s club hockey, they tend to write it off, but people who follow us on a regular basis know that’s certainly not the case with our program.”

Fabbrini, a Gies College of Business graduate in accounting, said the degree has helped him greatly in his roles with the Illinois hockey team, plus his other full-time job as director of coaching for the Champaign-Urbana Youth Hockey Association.

“My education has helped with things like auditing, consulting, and figuring out ways we can do things better and save money,” said Fabbrini, who lives in Savoy. “I’ve helped the Illinois program reduce rates we pay at the ice rink, and the degree has helped our organization and our relationship with campus recreation. My business communication skills and having those types of classes, it’s helped with me talking with suppliers and with parents, too.
“And in order to be competitive in ACHA, it’s imperative that you have an adult who can take care of the day-to-day operations.”

A two-time finalist for the ACHA Coach of the Year Award (2013, 2018) and winner of the 2018 Central States Collegiate Hockey League Coach of the Year Award, Fabbrini also won two national championships as a player with the Illini in 2005 and 2008.

The U.S. National University Team is composed of players who compete collegiately in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, and the men’s team has competed regularly in the biennial tournament since 2001. Next year’s tournament marks the first time a non-ACHA coach will serve as head coach.

Roger Grillo, a longtime coach at USA Hockey, will serve as the National University Men’s Team’s head coach.

“It’s a great change to the program,” Fabbrini said.

Fabbrini said he loves working with hockey players at all age levels – the youth program has more than 200 players.

“I really love what I do here,” he said.