When Niko Castino arrived on campus back in 2017 the DII Redbirds had just moved up from the DIII level the year before. “If I’m being honest, the team that year had a few players including Niko that could compete at that level but we just weren’t deep enough to present a challenge to most teams.” said Michael Hernbrott, the DII Redbirds Head Coach. The team ended the season with a record of 6-24. Niko had a solid season ending up as a top four scorer on the team and became the first building block to bring the Redbirds back to respectibility.
The following year several former teammates joined the program fresh off a National Championship run with the Chicago Bruins CSDHL team. Two of those players, Michael McEllin and Anthony Carcerano eventually formed a line that has consistently averaged two or three points every game they have played together. That year’s 2018-2019 team ended up with a record of 16-15 and returned to the MACHA Gold playoffs.
For the 2019-20 season, the CCM line was locked in as leaders both on and off the ice. McEllin(34 points), Castino(32 points) & Carcerano(25 points) were the top three scorers on the team. The team finished with an 18-8 record and made it to the MACHA Gold Championship game for only the second time in ISU Hockey history.
After losing the 2020-21 season to the pandemic, the players showed up knowing this is the last chance for them to play competitive hockey together. They are looking to keep reaching higher goals. They’ve started off strong with a 9-2 record and have high hopes and strong possibilities of returning to the MACHA Gold Championship and reaching Regionals and Nationals.
Beyond the team goals, each of these players are looking to reach some personal milestones before their Redbird careers come to an end.
McEllin & Castino both have goals of surpassing 100 points scored in a Redbird uniform. McEllin stands at 80, Castino at 76. Anthony Carcerano with 61. He would be in the same neighborhood as his line mates but lost a semester his Freshman year due to a season ending injury he incurred half way through that year.
The Redbirds take on the Warriors of Indiana Tech this Friday, 11/12 and Saturday, 11/13 at 7 pm in the Grossinger Motors Arena. Tickets are $5.00 GA and $3.00 for students and youth hockey players wearing they’re jerseys.