This past weekend, ISU Hockey alumni John Panos made his Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL) debut for the Mississippi Sea Wolves. We had the opportunity to talk to Panos about his time with ISU Hockey and how it helped him prepare for playing in the FPHL.
Panos shared the following comments about ISU, his coaches, teammates and his experience, “During my time at Illinois State University, hockey wasn’t just a game; it was a transformative experience. Initially nervous about playing with older teammates, I found a supportive community led by Coach Hernbrott. During my first year with D2, I was inspired by players like Michael McEllin, Niko Castino, and Nate Radtke. After their departures, I aimed to be the next go-to player.”
“Despite a challenging first year, I dedicated myself to training, determined to fill the gaps left by graduating players. Junior year brought success, a MACHA championship appearance, and lifelong friendships. If it wasn’t for the bond in that room, I wouldn’t be the motivated player that I am right now. Once graduation loomed, I faced a decision – extend my D2 career or strive for D1. As soon as the season came to an end, I asked Coach Hernbrott and Coach Fazio what I needed to work on in order to improve even more.”
“Summer became a relentless pursuit of improvement, leading to a triumphant entry into D1 ACHA with Coach Prewitt. I didn’t feel right playing on D2 for one semester and taking away key opportunities and ice-time from other, younger players. D1 was where I ultimately wanted to be. Playing alongside talented teammates like Tony Campise, Ethan Chesney, and Mike Sliwinski (just to name a few), allowed my motivation to grow even higher. Perhaps my favorite memory during my time with the Redbirds was playing alongside my lifelong friend, Mason Perri, one more time.”
“The players at Illinois State University are not just teammates; they are a collective force that defines the essence of camaraderie in hockey. Their commitment to the game and each other creates an atmosphere of unwavering support. Recommending the ISU hockey program isn’t just about the excellent coaching or competitive play; it’s about the community of players who make it exceptional. If you’re looking to continue your hockey journey after college, ISU provides not just a platform for skill development but a family of teammates who share the passion and drive to succeed both on and off the ice. It’s an experience that goes beyond the sport, shaping character, and creating lasting connections that extend far beyond the college years.”
“Coach Hernbrott’s mentorship was pivotal. Emphasizing relationships and providing opportunities that shaped my development. Coach Prewitt continued this legacy, affording me the chance to shine in my last two games, scoring my first goal and assist. ISU wasn’t just a college; it was a community that fueled my passion. Transitioning to the FPHL with the Mississippi Sea Wolves was the natural next step, where in my first pro game, I not only played but recorded an assist. My first professional point. ISU’s impact resonates in every stride, motivating me to keep pushing boundaries.”
– John Panos
If you’re interested in playing for ISU Hockey, we encourage you to fill out our Recruit Form under the team tab on our website!