By Kim Wrona
6/20/16 – DeKalb, IL | The faces behind the benches of NIU Hockey’s Division-II and Division-III teams will look slightly different for the 2016-17 season.
Former DIII head coach Nick Madonia has been promoted to DII head coach for the upcoming year. Chuck Rinaldo is stepping back from his head coaching duties after manning the DII Huskies’ bench for four seasons. He will now serve as a DII Assistant Coach and will concentrate more as the Director of Hockey Operations. John Luciana will remain a DII Assistant Coach for the Huskies for his second season behind the bench.
“We wanted to help create a balance with Chuck’s busy work schedule so this move allows him to focus on more administrative and recruiting type of responsibilities while still being in a coaching role,” General Manager Ian Kalanges said. “Instead of looking outside of the organization, we were easily able to move Nick right into the DII Head Coach position.”
“I’m thankful and excited for the opportunity,” Madonia said about his new role. “Chuck has done a great job over the last few years of elevating the DII team and I look forward to building off of everything that he has done.”
Madonia is entering his third year of coaching in the NIU Hockey organization. In his two years as Head Coach of the DIII Huskies, he piloted the team to back-to-back MACHA Bronze championships in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
To replace Madonia, Mark Plantery has been hired as Head Coach of the DIII Huskies for the 2016-17 season. Brian Hyken will remain as assistant coach for the DIII Huskies as he enters his third season behind the bench for NIU.
Plantery brings a rich hockey background to the organization. From 1979 to 1986, he played in the CHL, AHL, IHL and 25 games in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets. Currently, he is a scout for the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints and the NAHL’s Kenai River Brown Bears. Plantery has also served as the varsity Head Coach for Fenwick High School and as President of the Cyclones Hockey Club at Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva. Plantery will also serve as NIU’s Director of Junior Hockey Recruitment.
“We had a previous relationship with Mark Plantery when we were playing out of the Fox Valley Ice Arena,” Kalanges said. “He reached out to us after he heard of the position opening and the past few weeks moved very quickly to get him on board.”
The DII and DIII Huskies will officially begin the 2016-17 season on Friday September 16. Both teams will start on the road and both will take on Lewis University.