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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Hockey welcomes new coach, fall to Marauders

Huskies introduce Bangs as coach in loss to UMary
Courtesy NIU Hockey
Freshman forward Walker Smith pressures Midland senior defender Jack Royer NIU Hockey’s game on Oct. 27. The Huskies welcomed new head coach Mychal Bangs to the bench in their 5-2 loss to the University of Mary on Friday. (Courtesy of NIU Hockey)

WEST DUNDEE – After the release of former head coach Brad Stoffers on Oct. 27, NIU Hockey (1-19-2, 0-11 MCH) welcomed its new head coach to the bench in its 5-2 loss to No. 6 ranked University of Mary (13-4, 9-1 MCH) on Friday. 

The Huskies have now dropped five straight games and are yet to find their first conference win. 

The Huskies held with UMary for most of the game, never trailing by more than three goals.

“I thought we played pretty good,” said fifth-year defenseman Alec Porzondek. “We stuck with them for, I’d say, two periods. Then we had a solid seven minutes where it kind of just fell apart penalty-wise, and that kind of just put us down in the region where we didn’t want to go.”


After going over a month without a head coach, the Huskies introduced Mychal Bangs as their new bench boss. 

Despite the loss, Bangs said he was excited to get his first game under his belt and hopes to help the Huskies reach their potential. 

“It (Bangs’ first game) was really good,” Bangs said. “Good group of guys, good team, a lot of potential and that was a good first game. Definitely some things we can work on and looking forward to getting to the second game.” 

After the first game with a new bench boss, freshman forward Walker Smith said the energy Bangs brings is refreshing for the struggling team.

“I think the change of scenery is what we needed – he brings a lot of positive energy,” Smith said. “A lot of good qualities that we need in a coach. So, I think it’s only up from here.”


Smith scored his first collegiate goal in Friday’s loss – a bar-down power play snipe during the second period to get NIU on the board. 

Coming off an MCL injury that had him sidelined until late October, Smith was relieved to finally put a goal on the board. 

“I’ve been getting my chances in a couple games now,” Smith said. “It was good to finally get one home and hopefully it brings more – opens the floodgates a bit.”

A goal for one of the top recruits of the offseason is an encouraging sight for the one-win Huskies. 

Bangs said unlocking Smith’s offensive abilities is crucial to the team’s success. 

“It’s (Smith’s goal) extremely important,” Bangs said. “He’s one of our freshmen – a really good incoming player. The first goal gives a ton of confidence.” 


The consistent struggle of the second period continued even with new-coach Bangs behind the bench.

The Huskies allowed three goals in the frame, one of which came on a UMary power play in the final minute of the period shortly after Smith’s goal got NIU within two goals. 

“It’s really just a mental mindset that we have to have,” Porzondek said. “After we score a goal, the next two shifts are the most important shifts in the game that we should put in our mind. Because we just did all that work to gain ahead and we don’t want to give it back so easily.” 


The Huskies have a rematch with UMary on Saturday – the final game before a month-long break. 

Bangs said the key to success lies in tightening up the defensive zone and getting more active in the offensive zone.

“We’re going to make a quick adjustment to our D-zone coverage to be able to take care of the front of the net a little bit better,” Bangs said. “Then we got to get more shots. I think we only had about 10 shots on goal tonight and we got to get that up over 20 or 25.” 

The Huskies meet UMary at 5 p.m. Saturday at Canlan Ice Sports in West Dundee. 

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

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