In 25 years, Rockford head coach Tim Mattila has tallied over 900 wins at the high school level, including 16 of 18 Illinois Combined High School State Titles. After playing high school hockey in Wisconsin, college hockey and semi pro, he can add 2015 Illinois Hockey Hall of Famer to his resume.
"There's no secret magic," Matilla said about getting into coaching at Rockford. "Once I took [the position] I went and tried to learn how to be a quality hockey coach."
Mattila said the job came about after a dad who was coaching the team had a son graduate. "Of course I'll take it!" he said, and the rest is history.
Rockford has a close following with hockey, especially the Icemen, which makes this deal even sweeter.
"In Rockford, it is a hockey family," he said. "The Icemen is a family, we have a lot of support from the park district so I think it says more about our program in general."
Mattila played for the Janesville Jetts in 1981-82 and had a brief stint as an interim coach of the Rockford Ice Hogs, but high school hockey is most important to him. It's about helping kids grow.
"What i really like is you can see them make a jump," he said. "That's what I love the most. And I love seeing kids that enjoy the game. You see the confidence in them away from the rink and they become young men. You see it because they've put in so much time and effort and you can just tell that they're growing up and I really enjoy that part."
As he reflected on his hockey career, there wasn't just one moment he could come up with that he was most proud of.
"People always talk about State Championships," he said. "Yea, we've won 16 but each team has a different situation. I just enjoy it. If it was just one moment I could have quit ten years ago. I'm still looking forward to maybe having my proudest moment."
This season, the Icemen stand in fourth place in the SHL with a 6-11-0 record and while it's not where he'd like to be, there's still a silver lining.
"We just started having success, and you know it's fun when you're having success," Mattila said. "It's been a good run. I'm not sure how much longer I can do it, getting older and back issues. But, I still enjoy it. Even though our team isn't doing that well, we have not lost the locker room yet, they still enjoy each other. That helps make it a lot easier."
Mattila will be inducted to the Hall of Fame Sunday, January 24th alongside former Blackhawks great Chris Chelios at Belvedere Banquet Hall in Elk Grove Village.