It’s been a busy three years for forward Vincent Hinostroza, who was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012. Since then, he’s finished two seasons at Notre Dame before signing an entry-level contract with the Blackhawks in March. However, it doesn’t seem like things will be slowing down anytime soon for the 21-year-old, as he prepares for his first full professional hockey season.
“I never planned this,” he said. “I always knew I wanted to sign with the Blackhawks after being drafted, but I never knew if or when it was going to happen.”
One thing Hinostroza was sure of was the timing to make the switch from collegiate to professional hockey after having two successful seasons with the Fighting Irish.
“I felt like I was ready to leave, and I think the Blackhawks did too. I think after seeing some guys I knew play in the AHL, I felt like I could compete and be successful there and hopefully earn a spot in the NHL,” he said.
The Bartlett, Ill., native has no regrets about his time at Notre Dame and is thankful for the opportunity to compete there. Over two seasons, he compiled 19 goals and 57 assists in 76 games. NCAA hockey prepared Hinostroza for this next step, but the hours spent off the ice also played a major role in his success.
“I worked a lot with our trainer at Notre Dame, Tony Rolinski, and he helped me put on a few pounds and really get stronger,” he said. “That made a big difference for my game.”
Hinostroza finished his sophomore season with a team-high 44 points (11G, 33A) in 42 games and was named to the Hockey East All-Conference First Team. After signing his ELC, he reported to Rockford to finish out the season with the IceHogs.
Hinostroza played with fellow IceHog and Illinois native Ryan Hartman (a 2013 first-round pick) when he was younger, and knew a few of his new teammates such as Mark McNeill and Garret Ross from previous Prospect Camps, but Hinostroza said there was still some adjusting to do when he arrived in Rockford.
“One of the biggest challenges was coming into the team as a younger guy. In my situation, the guys played the whole season together, so coming in at the end and trying to fit in is tough, but they took me in and are all great guys.”
For Hinostroza, getting the opportunity to represent his hometown team is an advantage that most players don’t get. Whether he’s craving a home-cooked meal or wants to spend time with his family, Hinostroza is only an hour away from home.
“I’m really happy my family and friends can experience this journey with me,” he said. “My family always comes to Prospect Camp, but this year is extra special since I signed with the Blackhawks.”
After showcasing his skills at this year’s Prospect Camp at Johnny’s IceHouse West, which ends Friday, Hinostroza will attend his first Blackhawks Convention to meet even more Blackhawks fans curious to catch a glimpse of the organization’s future. Afterward, he still has a couple months to get ready for his first professional season, and plans on using that time to focus on his speed and spend more time in the weight room preparing his body.
“I’m really excited to get to the grind, and I’m ready to get my pro career started.”