Mike Rucinski

DII Head Coach

This will be Mike’s first year as head coach of the NIU DII team. Mike grew up in Chicago playing for the Schaumburg Kings, Glenview Stars and Arlington Heights Rangers. Mike attended University of Illinois – Chicago where he played three seasons for their NCAA DI team. After Mike’s third season, he played for Team USA in the World Championships. He then signed as a free agent with the Calgary Flames in 1986. In 1987, his second season in the Calgary Flames organization, he won the Turner Cup championship with their IHL affiliate the Salt Lake Golden Eagles. Mike lead the league in playoff scoring in the playoffs that year. The following season he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks and played a few games in the NHL with them. Over the next three seasons, Mike played a significant role with their IHL affiliates Saginaw Hawks (2 seasons) and Indianapolis Ice (1 season) while also winning the Turner Cup championship again in 1989 with the Indianapolis Ice. Since 1990, Mike has coached from Mites to Midgets and High School at the AA and AAA level for Winnetka, Crystal Lake Leafs, Barrington RedWings, Chicago Young Americans, Team Illinois, Carmel High School, Northwest Charges and most recently the West Dundee Leafs. Along the way Mike has won multiple State Championships as well as making multiple National Championship appearances. In 2012, Mike inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame in the Players Division for his accomplishments as a player. Mike takes pride in NEVER playing AAA hockey and playing all of his youth and college hockey right here in Chicago. Mike currently resides in Huntley, IL with his wife Christine and four boys Matt, Justin, Dylan and Cody. All four boys currently or have played hockey. Justin is NIU’s all-time leader in goals, assists and points.

luciana

John Luciana

DII Assistant Coach

This will be John’s fourth year as an assistant coach of the NIU DII team. John grew up in Chicago playing for the Chicago Flames and Glenbard North High School. John also spent two seasons with the Chicago Force of the CSHL (now NA3HL). John attended Ohio University where he played three seasons for their ACHA DI team before transferring to NIU to play one season on the ACHA DII team. John currently resides in West Chicago, IL.

Jim Bristol

DII Assistant Coach

This will be Jim’s first year as an assistant coach of the NIU DII team. Jim grew up in Northern New York and also played his youth hockey there and for Saranac Lake Central High School. Jim attended Clarkson University (ECAC DI) in which he walked onto the ice hockey team and received his Bachelors in Management. After attending Clarkson University, Jim played semi-pro hockey for the Potsdam Pioneers of the Ottawa District League. Afterwards Jim moved to Chicago. Since 1980, Jim has coached from Mites to Midgets for various organizations and had a 5-year stint as an Assistant Coach at Lake Forest College (NCAA DIII). Along the way, he has been a part of 3 Blackhawks Cup State Championships as well as making it to 2 USA National Championships with finishing 3rd in 2009/2010 in Tier II Midgets (Alongside Coach Rucinski and Coach Wallace). Most recently, Jim coached at the West Dundee Leafs for their Midget team. Jim currently resides in Bartlett, IL and has a daughter Ryan (resides in White Bear Lake, MN) and a son Zack (resides in Chicago, IL).

Andy Wallace

DII Assistant Coach

This will be Andy’s first year as an assistant coach of the NIU DII team. Andy grew up in Wisconsin playing for De Pere Youth Hockey while being coached by his father Hank Wallace. Andy also played for the Green Bay Jr. Bobcats while being coach by two-time Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist, John Mayasich. Andy attended Marquette University and received his Bachelor’s in Business Administration. Andy later attended University of North Texas and received his Master’s in Labor / Industrial Relations. Since 1990, Andy has coached from Mites to Midgets and High School for the Northwest Charger, Darien Huskies, Chicago Flames (Bruins) and Buffalo Grove High School. Along the way he has been a part of 4 Blackhawk Cup State Championships as well as making it to 2 USA National Championships with finishing 3rd in 2009/2010 in Tier II Midgets (Alongside Coach Rucinski and Coach Bristol) and winning the National Championship in 1997/1998 in Tier II Midgets. Most recently, Andy coached at the West Dundee Leafs for their Midget team. Andy has a Level 4 USA Hockey Coach Certification. Andy currently resides in Prospect Heights, IL.

Christian Esposito

DIII Head Coach

This will be Christian’s first year as head coach of the NIU DIII team and second year as a part of the NIU Hockey program. Christian grew up in Chicago playing for the Geneva Cyclones and St. Charles North High School, where he was named All-State his senior year. After high school, Christian played four seasons at St. Mary’s University on their ACHA DII team, which was created by him, where he served as team captain and Club President all 4 seasons he was there. During his time at St. Mary’s, Christian was named All-Conference twice along with competing twice in the ACHA All-Star Challenge. Christian received his Bachelor’s in Biology and is currently pursuing his degree in Doctor of Chiropractic’s, specializing in Sports Medicine, at National University of Health Science. Christian also serves as a coach with the Geneva Cyclones. Christian currently resides in St. Charles, IL.

 

JC Weems

DIII Assistant Coach

 

Anthony Demaria

DIII Assistant Coach

 

Kale Johnstone

DIII Assistant Coach