Benz Brothers take over coaching duties at St. Viator

Former Glenbrook South players shoot to hear the Lions roar again

By Ross Forman

Tim Benz walks onto the bench as the new St. Viator head coach this upcoming season filled with optimism and no shortage of lofty goals. And rightfully so.

His short-term goals are to win both the prestigious Catholic League’s Kennedy Cup and the state championship soon, very soon.

Tim Benz

Long-term, he wants the Lions to be a perennial power, be among the elite eight in the state every year, and certainly a frequent team skating for state at the United Center.

“I know the program has a ton of history, a great relationship with the school and a fantastic new facility,” in Mt. Prospect, Benz said. “The program has 12 returning guys from the varsity team, so I knew there was some great young talent there.”

Benz, 30, who lives in Glenview, has been coaching locally for seven years, most recently as an assistant at Loyola Gold. He works as an International Sales Analyst for CDW.

Benz accepted the St. Viator job this past March, and his younger brothers, Chris and Greg, will be Viator assistant coaches.

The Benz Brothers

All three Benz brothers were star players at Glenbrook South.

“Loyola is one of the premier programs in the state. Taking notes from how a quality program like Loyola will help me in all facets with Viator,” Benz said. “Learning from (Loyola head coach) D.J. (LaVarre) was a tremendous opportunity. He has been a staple for not only high school hockey, but for hockey in Illinois in general, and anytime you get a chance to learn from a coach of his caliber, it is a great opportunity.”

The same can be said for Benz’ coach at GBS, Jim Philbin, another longtime coach in the Chicago area.

Kevin Delaney also has had a huge impact on Benz, along with Sylvain Turcotte, Steve Funteas and Mike Noll (football), he said.

The Benz Family

“I like to work skills into our practice schedule, therefore creating a well-rounded player,” Benz said. “Often times during the year these things get forgotten as coaches are busy working schematics. Having the opportunity to work and coach alongside Kevin showed me how important it is to keep practicing and drilling hockey skills.

“I like to think I get my coaching style from every coach I have been around. Whether that’s from my playing or coaching days. I had the opportunity to play three sports throughout high school and three sports at the collegiate level – NCAA Division III football and baseball my freshman year of college, and then back on the ice when I transferred my sophomore year of college. I took bits and pieces from every coach I have ever had the chance to play for, or coach with.”

Greg & Chris Benz

Benz said he is “very excited” for the Viator challenge, especially working alongside his siblings.

“It will be great to have all three of us on the bench together,” Benz said. “Each brings a ton to the table and we work well with each other. Both of my brothers were great players and great competitors; it’s only natural for them to be great coaches.”

Benz said the St. Viator program will, likely, have one varsity and one JV team in the upcoming season.

Benz has certainly been impressed with what he’s seen from the program, already.

“The want to succeed (from) both the players and the people around the program,” stands out, Benz said. “The players want nothing more than to be a great hockey club. They are working hard in the spring, working hard in the weight room, and asking what else they can do to better themselves individually as well as a team.”

Vince Avino and Anthony Aiello are two key returners for the Lions. Both will be senior forwards and captains. Jack Nimrod, Colton Ludwick, EJ Reisenger and Art Sosin are noteworthy juniors-to-be playing forward.

Saint Viator Hockey Club Season Home Opener at Mt Prospect Ice Arena. Both Varsity & JV were in action against the CHFS Hockey Club. It was the debut of new home rink for the Saint Viator Hockey Club. – Photos by Harley Melo

The defense is led by returning senior and four-year varsity player Kevin Joyce. He will be accompanied by returning junior Brian Lolli and three returners who will be sophomores: Nick Chiapetta, Niko Dinunno and John Jarosz.

Goaltending chores will fall primarily to senior-to-be Colin Baumann.

“Our JV team finished in the Final Four in state (this past season), so we will be looking for some guys to come up and fill some roles to round out our (varsity) roster,” Benz said. “Getting the players to buy into the program and systems will be a challenge we look forward to tackling. Much of the things we are throwing at them is new, so it will take a few months to get the hang of it, but once they do, we are going to be dangerous. Putting time in the weight room and film room will help build a culture of hard work. Once this culture is developed, success will follow and we will be able to build our brand.”

Benz definitely is looking forward to skating against Loyola and Glenbrook South this upcoming season. “Obviously it’s great to play against (my) alma mater, especially against a coach who has taught myself and my brothers so much about the game,” Benz said. “(The) same is true for Loyola, a program that I was very fortunate to be a part of. In both circumstances each team has a lot of players I coached at the youth or high school level. So it is always fun to see them play and see how they have grown into some fine players.”


BROTHERLY LOVE

Tim Benz

Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks

Favorite NHL Player: Scott Stevens

Favorite TV Show: Fixer Upper

Favorite Movie: Out Cold

Favorite Sport (other than hockey): Football

Best HS uniforms (excluding Loyola and St. Viator): Glenbrook South

Worst HS uniforms (excluding Loyola and St. Viator): New Trier

I’m the best of the Benz brothers … “(With the) hardest slapshot.”

Jersey number during playing career: 12


Greg Benz

Favorite NHL Team: Blackhawks

Favorite NHL Player: Erik Karlsson

Favorite TV Show: NHL Tonight

Favorite Movie: Big Fish

Favorite Sport (other than hockey): Football

Best HS uniforms (excluding Loyola and St. Viator): Glenbrook South

Worst HS uniforms (excluding Loyola and Viator): Neuqua Valley

I’m the best of the Benz brothers … “because I play hockey in all three zones.”

Jersey number during your playing career: 24


Chris Benz

Favorite NHL Team: Blackhawks

Favorite NHL Player: Connor McDavid

Favorite TV Show: NHL on the Fly

Favorite Movie: The Break-up

Favorite Sport (other than hockey): Football

Worst HS uniforms (excluding Loyola and St. Viator): Neuqua Valley

I’m the best of the Benz brothers … “(Had the) most points, being the only forward out of the brothers.”

Jersey number during your playing career: 11


Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years, and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.

 



Categories: High School, Hockey Headlines, Ross Forman's High School Hockey

Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: