Stoffers brings energry to huskie hockey By Aliyah depersio of northern star: northern illinois university student news organization September 14, 2022
NIU hockey welcomed its newest head coach, Brad Stoffers, to the team this offseason. Stoffers is an energetic addition with a lot of hockey knowledge and experience. He has been a hockey coach for 15 years and has coached all over the country.
“I came to Chicago to start a junior hockey team in 2015,” Stoffers said. “Junior hockey is a level in between high school and college.”
It was through this team that Stoffers started to become familiar with NIU. The players at the level he was coaching were being recruited by colleges, one of those being NIU. Stoffers also began to cross paths with staff and players by sharing the same rink as the team.
“He coached against us, but he’s never coached for us,” said Rodahn Evans, president of the hockey club. “So we’re all pretty excited to see him actually coach.”
Stoffers was in talks to start coaching the team back in 2019. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those plans were put on pause until this past summer.
Once a player, now a coach
Stoffers grew up in St. Louis and started playing hockey at the age of six. Out of all the sports he was involved in, he played hockey the longest. Stoffers continued to play into his college years, when he attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
“I played all sports growing up, but I loved hockey the most,” Stoffers said.
His love for playing hockey allowed for a seamless transition into coaching. Not wanting to give up the sport he had been a part of for so long, Stoffers decided to become a coach. What started as a potential part-time job to stay connected to hockey, turned into a ten-year, full-time coaching career. However, Stoffers now coaches for NIU part time.
First-year coach dreaming big
Stoffers has big plans for the NIU hockey program, and plans on using his time as a coach to develop the team. He is all about giving back to the sport that gave him so much; and he plans to do so by mentoring the next generation of players.
“I expect Stoffers to have the drive to get us a couple more wins this year,” Evans said. The team has yet to play their first game with Stoffers as coach, but they have held practices with him.
The addition of a new coach seems to have positive feedback among the team. Wayne Bower, the associate coach, general manager and director of operations for NIU hockey, also had praise for Stoffers.
“He’s bringing a lot of energy to the program,” Bower said. “I was pretty happy to see him be available and take the position.”
Bower also said Stoffers possesses a lot of good energy that he is bringing forth to the team. There is a lot of excitement and buzz within the team. Bower believes it will be a good season and that Stoffers will lay a good foundation for the future.
Stoffers’ first game as the head coach of NIU hockey will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Canlan Ice Sports in West Dundee. This game also marks the start of hockey’s 2022-23 season.
About The USPHL
The United States Premier Hockey League of 2022-23 is the nation’s largest junior amateur ice hockey league and the only league to span the continental United States, from Maine to California, and from Florida to Washington State.
The USPHL includes over 100 organizations comprised of 11,000 players spanning the ages of 6 through 20, including Youth and Midget Division teams in the Tier 1 Hockey Federation.
Overall, across all its divisions, the USPHL see more than 3,100 alumni playing college hockey each year and more than 250 playing pro hockey, including in the NHL.
The league’s top level, the Tuition Free Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference, led all North American Tier II leagues with three players selected in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and has seen more than 200 NCAA Division I commitments since its 2017 inception. The NCDC will also expand to include the NCDC West, with teams in Colorado, Utah and Idaho for 2023-24.
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