Hockey gears for last playoff run

By Matt Stacionis

When George Tselios stepped onto the ice during his first College of Dupage hockey practice, he didn’t know what to expect.

George Bush had just taken the White House, the New Kids on the Block had found the “Right Stuff” and the Berlin Wall was being torn to pieces. The then freshman had been playing hockey only three years prior to making the College of Dupage’s squad. Thirteen years later, his career nears its end. At 30, Tselios will finish his college hockey career when the NIU hockey club takes the ice at 8:35 for the ACHA playoffs at Addison, IL this weekend. Tselios finishes his career, which started in 1988, playing what might be his best ever squad.

Since Tselios’ arrival, the Huskies have earned a two-week stint as the No. 1 team in the Midwest, a trip to nationals in 1998 and now a chance to win their divisional playoffs. “The win itself is important,” he said. “Not just for myself but for all these guys out here.”

With him the Huskies also gained deep knowledge of the game from a member of one of hockey’s most prominent families.

Tselios’ brother, Nick, was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes and plays at the professional level. His brother Chris has also made a name for himself at the semi-pro stage. Then there is his cousin, former Chicago Blackhawk and current Detroit Red Wing Chris, who has earned a spot in every Chicago hockey fan’s heart. The Tselios family credits a lot of their success to the bond that they shared growing up. With that bond, George said, a lot of their fortune was generated.

“You need a close tight-knit family,” he said. “It’s a web of very individual in our family to support one another. Where Nick has gone, he owes it all to us. But we don’t expect anything from him. We just know that he loves us. The only thing we’ve asked of him is to be a good kid all his life, and he’s done that.”

With the experience that Tselios has had raising his younger brother, helping guide younger players on NIU’s team came as no problem. Tselios, along with seniors Dan Gudovic, Kevin O’Connell, Kevin Gelatka, David Grossman and Billy Karr has helped earn a 18-3-1 record this year. Tselios said that this year’s team is very comparable to the the team that was selected to nationals in the 1997-98 season. He said that the front line of Karr, Eric DiCarlo and himself is one of the best trios he has seen in his career.

“I don’t see any difference,” Tselios said about the talent of this year’s team compared to the 1998 team. “The only difference is that this team didn’t get the lucky breaks. It’s all based of voting.”

And when Tselios leaves NIU and enters the work-place after May graduation, a George Bush will be there to greet him — just like he left it.

“This weekend is not going to be any weekend we played since the beginning of the year,” he said. “I’m going to be happy and I’m going to keep playing in men’s leagues, but I’ll never forget this.”