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Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame Calls Anders Sorensen: ‘He’s The Whole Package’

Rockford IceHogs Bench Boss Anders Sorensen to be inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame tonight. (Photo Courtesy of Rockford IceHogs)



Any person who watched Anders Sorensen begin his coaching career could see there was something special about him. It appears those on the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame’s board agree, too.

The Rockford Ice Hogs bench boss is slated to be inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame tonight, an honor that Sorensen admits he never saw coming. But many others around him did especially fellow Illinois Hockey Hall of Famer Andrea Hahn,  Vice President of Amateur Hockey and Fifth Third Arena Chicago Blackhawks.

“He’s the whole package,” Hahn said who has known Sorensen since he was coaching in youth hockey.

But for those who know him best, it’s hardly a surprise. Here’s a look at Sorensen’s career through the eyes of those who know him well.

Sorensen Stood Out From The Start

The son of a bricklayer who retired as the CEO of the same company, Sorensen was a defensemen when he played professionally but knew that he too, wanted to be a builder.

Just in a different profession.

“I knew right away I wanted to get into coaching,” Sorensen said. “The biggest thing for me was the opportunity to help young players improve and just teach them as much as I can.”

His career started with the (then) Darien Huskies, where he coached the AA youth program. He then moved onto the Chicago Chill before being recruited to the Chicago Mission.

It was in 2006 that Sorensen started his journey in with the Mission, a position where Hahn helped brought him to coach. His work, according to her, was incredible as he wore several hats that went from coaching, to director of coaching, and then to player development.

“He was the backbone of building a world class organization,” Hahn said, “Every team he was involved in immediately began progressing and seeing success. He was our first coach at the Mission to win a national championship at the midget major level. You could see he would rise through the ranks very quickly.”

With Hahn then running the Mission, she knew what they needed and explained that youth hockey is more than the players on the ice. It’s building a program that teaches life lessons and builds a culture with quality human beings. So when finding the right people to propel the Mission, Sorensen was the perfect person to be in the organization.

“Anders, better than anyone I’ve met, encompassed all of those things,” Hahn said. “Players wanted to play for him and wanted to succeed under him.”

It’s his work that got him the call from the Illinois Hall, something Sorensen called both “humbling and exciting.” But before that one came, it earned him a call to even higher levels of hockey.

Anders Sorensen ‘Excels’ With Coaching, Development

Sorensen began his career with the Blackhawks organization when he was hired as a development coach in 2014. The Blackhawks saw what Hahn did–a teacher, coach, and astute observer of the game who could relate to the players and get the most out of them. From there, he was named an assistant coach with the IceHogs in 2018-19 and then was given the interim role when current Hawks assistant coach Derek King was named the bench boss for Chicago in 2022. Sorensen’s work with Rockford was impressive and the organization made him the permanent head coach.

IceHogs President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Mark Bernard describes his team as being the “lifeblood” of the Blackhawks because in his words, if they fail at developing that talent, they “set the organization back for years.” Sorensen, Bernard points out, who takes this seriously and has the precise skills to make sure those players make it at the next level.

“He exceptional at leading the young players and exceptional at leading his staff,” Bernard said. “His communication skills are very strong, both with the staff and the players. He excels at developing and noticing what players need to develop to that next level.”

Bernard’s son played for the Mission and was ecstatic at the chance to play for Sorensen, which for Bernard, shows the unique skill Sorensen possesses in reaching his players.

“He’s a great developer of young men and has a great knack for teaching,” Bernard said.

Bernard, and Hahn spoke extensively to the number of players who he’s tutored that are now playing at higher levels–from the college ranks, the AHL and and in the NHL. William Nylander is one such player. So is David Pastrnak.

In Chicago, it’s guys like Alex Vlasic, Arvid Soderblom, and Lukas Reichel who have all learned from him.

“He was huge for me,” Reichel said. “Especially for all the young guys–he knows how we feel about being sent down. He’s good at just talking to the guys and making them feel comfortable. He always told us to enjoy it.”

Greg Tam, Director Amateur Hockey with the Blackhawks, coached with Sorensen with the Mission, and explains that players flourish with him because of his approach.

“He’s pretty even keel,” Tam said.  “And I think for young guys to be around that–to be able to see how well he controls his emotions. I don’t want to say it’s uncommon, but it’s a real privilege for those players to be around someone like that.”

Sorensen the coach is the same man off the ice, too.

‘Hockey is Family’

In a profession that demands much of her husband’s time, Theresa Sorensen said her family unconditionally supports one another in everything.

“When Anders first got into coaching, I felt like he’d found his niche, that thing he whole-heartedly loved doing so we just always made that work for us,” Theresa Sorensen said.  “I didn’t grow up with hockey like he did but after so many years, cliché as it’s going to sound, I understand the truth in that ‘Hockey is Family.’ I see his level of commitment to, and the regard for his players, is really just an extension of our normal family mode of operation.”

Tam says Sorensen richly deserves the call to the Illinois Hall.

“This is a huge honor for him to be inducted in the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame,” Tam said. “It is so well deserved on so many different levels, not just from from all of his credentials as a as a hockey player and a hockey coach and everything he continues to do in regards to the hockey but you know, I think it’s, it’s so well deserved on the other side of things too, right?”

The way he lives his life. He’s a great family man, he’s a great dad and husband and he’s a great friend.”

Now he’ll be a member of the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame, too.