Girls ice hockey goalie starts off new season with a bang

The talented and celebrated goalie of the combined Staples and Trumbull girls ice hockey team, Casey Bang ’14, certainly had an untraditional start in the sport.

“I did it on a whim,” Bang said. “I was a sophomore when my close friend came up to me and was telling me her concern about the team. The only goaltender on the team had graduated, and so they were left with no one to fill that space. So I became the team’s goaltender.”

When initially filling the spot, Bang did not even know how to skate and had never played a sport before. Science teacher David Rollison was the first to teach her the basics when she initially started. Bang was awkward on skates, he recalled.

“Casey could barely stand up. She was holding onto the boards just to keep from falling,” he said.

During practices with Rollison, Bang skated without her hocky stick, to focus better on her balance and legs, a technique that paid off with quick improvement.

“Casey managed to learn to skate faster than anyone else I have taught. Within two or three practice sessions she was able to skate forward and backward with confidence,” Rollison said.

She’s come a long way from that first practice, stopping nearly every goal during the team’s games.

Not only is Bang talented, she is also personable— her teammates can’t compliment her enough.

New team member Kit Epstein ’17 praised Bang’s character both on and off of the ice. “I haven’t known Casey for long because I’m a freshman, but from what I have seen, she is super positive. She is always smiling and you can tell that she’s having fun on the ice,” she said.

Sarah Reilly ’16 echoed Epstein’s praises of Bang. “She always has a positive attitude towards experienced as well as non-experienced players,” she said.

Indeed, Bang makes an effort to be welcoming and positive for her team. “I aim to be a good friend and upperclassman to everybody on the team,” she said, adding that she tries to “give honest advice when asked and give support when needed.”

Bang explained that although the team is only training in preseason now, she anticipates that their upcoming season will be a good one; many players have been training outside of practice.

To prepare, the team does a variety of workouts, including those for strength and endurance, which Bang explains help make skating on the ice easier. During practice, the team works on land exercises such as stick handling, passing, and shooting. On the ice, skating drills, plays, shooting, and scrimmages are incorporated.

As for what she hopes to accomplish this season, Bang’s goals are humble for such a valuable player.“I want to be a reliable goalie for my team [and] be able to consistently block most of the shots,” she said.

Such dedication makes Bang successful in the rink. Rollison explained that her determination and fearlessness have helped propel her to where she is today. “Part of learning is the willingness to fail…Casey kept pushing herself. Casey learned to skate and play goalie very quickly because she never stopped working,” he said.

While sports may just be another extracurricular activity for other students, for Bang hockey is so much more. “I can’t explain just how much good this sport did for me. I made friends that I would have never met. I became stronger,” she said.

The team’s first game of the season is a home game against Ridgefield on Wednesday, Dec. 11 from 8:40-10:10 p.m. at Terry Connors Rink.