Northern Star




Northern Star

Northern Illinois University’s student news organization since 1899


Ensure student journalism survives. Donate today.

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Hockey preparing to usher in new standard

New players and new culture to define NIU hockey’s turnaround
Courtesy NIU hockey
Then-senior forward Rodahn Evans celebrates with NIU hockey after scoring a goal against Drury University on Jan. 28. The Huskies won the game 4-0. (Photo courtesy NIU hockey)

DeKALB – With scorching heat in the forecast daily, the frigid ice rink has been as alive as ever.

After winning just four games in the 2022-2023 season, NIU hockey is gearing up to enter a new era for the 2023-2024 season. 


The Huskies enter the season with eight new players with junior hockey experience to bolster the lineup from last season. 

After a busy summer of recruiting, head coach Brad Stoffers finally got a chance to see his vision on the ice and work out how his team with multiple new players will gel together. 

“You try to piece together guys that you think will work well – compliment one another,” Stoffers said of finally seeing his new squad on the ice. “To see everybody mold and come together … that’s always fun to see and then just see it all come to fruition.”

With a new-look team full of fresh talent, a new excitement has taken over the locker room in West Dundee compared to previous years.

“Last year, we had a new coach come in in the summer, and everybody didn’t really know what was going on, and a lot of guys weren’t as excited for the season,” junior defenseman Luke Marks said. “This year, every single person I’ve talked to is super excited to get started.”

Training camp was also the first opportunity for new players to get a taste of NIU and mesh with their new teammates. 

During his first week, freshman forward Robbie Zimmerman already feels the family atmosphere around the team will lead to the success the program is searching for. 

“Everybody’s close. There’s no groups hanging out here and here,” Zimmerman said. “The first step to having a good hockey team is everybody being together. It shouldn’t be a team, it should be a brotherhood.”


For the upcoming season, the team has adopted a “new standard” motto to help establish a winning culture at NIU hockey. 

“The standard” involves building a winning mindset and no longer settling for less than everyone’s best performance. 

“We don’t want to be satisfied with the way things used to be done here,” Stoffers said. “If we want to achieve … the potential of this program, we’re going to have to take it up a notch, and that’s what ‘new standard’ is all about, is elevating and raising our expectations.” 

The standard doesn’t only apply to the broader program, but comes down to how the players conduct themselves in all aspects of being a college athlete. 

“In the weight room, it’s not going in and doing half reps and not maxing out,” Marks said. “In practice, it’s actually playing the body and playing 100% speed game scenarios and not taking it 75% because we’re in practice. It’s watching film when you don’t have to. It’s just doing that extra step.” 


Having laid a foundation for a winning mindset during a tough 2022-2023 season, Stoffers said the expectations grow now that new talent is in the room, and the standard has been set. 

“Every time we step on the ice, we should be able to be competitive with our opponent,” Stoffers said. “In every game for the full 60 minutes.”

With a new standard comes new expectations for the performance of the team. 

Zimmerman said he is aware of the recent struggles of NIU hockey and expects the teams’ record to reflect the standard they are holding themselves to. 

“I want us to be a winning team,” Zimmerman said “We have a good, deep group … I think everybody knowing their role, ready to work hard and ready to go … we can be a definite winning team.”

Marks, who endured the last two seasons with eight wins combined, has his eyes on a larger goal by the end of the season. 

“I expect us to win far more games than we did last season,” Marks said. “I expect us to be in playoffs by February.”


NIU hockey kicks off the season against Kent State University at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 15 at Canlan Ice Sports in West Dundee. 

Entry is free to all students with their OneCard. Tickets for non-students are available at the door for $5. 

The game will be streamed on the NIU hockey YouTube channel. 

More to Discover