Mike Fazio Hockey, Former Wheeling Nailers forward and ECHL Alumnus dies at 31 – Obituary

The world of hockey was struck by sorrow when news broke of the passing of former Wheeling Nailers forward and ECHL alumnus, Mike Fazio, at the young age of 31. The ECHL family has lost one of its own, leaving a void that cannot be filled. Mike Fazio’s journey through the world of hockey was marked by passion, dedication, and a deep love for the game, making his untimely departure all the more heartbreaking.

Mike Fazio’s hockey odyssey began in Bartlett, Illinois, where he honed his skills and nurtured his passion for the sport. As a young boy, Fazio laced up his skates at the Fox Valley Ice Arena, a rink that would witness the development of a promising talent. He became a proud member of the Geneva Cyclones Amateur Hockey Club, where he first began to showcase his exceptional abilities on the ice.

The next step in his hockey journey saw him donning the jersey of the University of Wisconsin – River Falls, where he competed in the highly competitive Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC). Fazio’s college years were pivotal in his development as a player and as a person. His dedication and work ethic shone brightly, earning him respect not only from his teammates but also from his coaches and rivals alike.

Fazio’s path took him through various levels of hockey, but his dreams and ambitions never wavered. He possessed a relentless desire to succeed and make his mark in the world of professional hockey. In pursuit of this dream, he ventured into the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), suiting up for the Evansville Thunderbolts in the season leading up to his memorable stint with the Wheeling Nailers.

The 2018-19 season marked a significant chapter in Mike Fazio’s career, as he donned the Wheeling Nailers jersey for 28 games. Playing in the ECHL, the second-tier professional hockey league in North America, is no small feat. It requires not only skill but also resilience and determination, qualities that Fazio embodied throughout his life. His time with the Nailers left an indelible mark on the organization and its fans.

However, Fazio’s contributions to the world of hockey extended far beyond his playing career. In 2019, he made the transition to coaching, where he continued to impact the lives of young athletes. Fazio’s dedication to the sport and his desire to give back were evident as he took on various coaching roles, each with its unique challenges and rewards.

One of his early coaching roles was as the Lead Instructor for MAP Hockey in Minnesota. Here, he had the opportunity to mold and mentor young players, passing on his knowledge and passion for the game. It was a role that suited him perfectly, as his affable nature and deep understanding of the sport made him an excellent teacher.

Fazio’s coaching journey continued with the Hudson Havoc of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL), where he served as the Director of Player Development and Assistant Coach. The USPHL is a developmental league that focuses on nurturing young talent and preparing them for the next level of their hockey careers. Fazio’s impact on these aspiring players was immeasurable, as he played a pivotal role in their growth and development.

His contributions to the sport also extended to scouting, as he took on the role of Minnesota regional scout for the Jamestown Rebels of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Scouting is a critical aspect of hockey, as it identifies emerging talent and provides opportunities for players to showcase their skills on a larger stage. Fazio’s keen eye for talent and his commitment to finding the best prospects made him an invaluable asset to the organization.

Most recently, Mike Fazio served as the Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Enhancement for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League (USHL). The USHL is the premier junior hockey league in the United States, serving as a stepping stone for many players on their way to collegiate and professional careers.