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Tri-City at Stars, 3/24/17

The Lincoln Stars' Christian Evers (15) puts a hard check on Tri-City's Chase Pilawski at the Ice Box in 2017. Pilawski now plays for the Stars, his fifth USHL team.

Chase Pilawski has had a long journey in the USHL, playing for five league teams over the course of the past five seasons — including his current stop, the Lincoln Stars.

"It's been interesting, Pilawski said. "You get to see all sides of the game. I've played in the East and the West (divisions). I've seen both styles of play in each division and have played for a lot of coaches."

The Lutz, Florida, native began his USHL career in 2016-17 with the Tri-City Storm and skated in only 15 games. He spent the next 40 games with the Waterloo Black Hawks. Pilawski then made the the long journey to the eastern side of the league, spending 16 games with the Madison Capitols in 2017-18 before playing in 40 games in the North American Hockey League with the Austin Bruins.

In 2018-19, Pilawaski rejoined the USHL, getting into a career-high 58 games and posting a career-high 19 points with three goals and 16 assists with the Green Bay Gamblers. Pilawaski also reached 100 career USHL games.

"On one hand, you would love to stay in one spot for your whole career," Pilawski said. "On the other hand, I've enjoyed all the places I've played. 

"The first week or so is hard getting used to everything, but after that, the guys take you in and they've been really good to me here. I wouldn't do it any other way." 

Pilawski did not waste any time getting to know his new Stars teammates — he's been down this road before.

In his third game with Lincoln on Saturday, he picked up his first point of the season on the power play with an assist to Brock Bremer against Sioux Falls.

"I came here about a week and a half ago," Pilawski said. "New group of guys, but right away I saw a lot of team chemistry here. I think that plays a big part of the power play. Everyone is comfortable with each other and knows where we are going to be.

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"When we get out there, I don't want to say it's effortless, but it's a lot easier."

Pilawski has learned a lot from each stop.

"How to treat yourself around the rink and how to carry yourself," he said. "With those five teams, just try and show younger guys how it's done and how to carry yourself around the rink and off the rink.

"I've been a part of some winning teams and some losing teams, so I've gotten to see what a winning culture looks like, and I think we have a winning culture here and it will take us pretty far this year."

The Stars want to get back to that winning culture, and Pilawski is a big piece in that, Lincoln coach Cody Chupp said.

"He brings an understanding of how hard it is to be successful in the league and what it takes on a daily basis to have that success," Chupp said. "It's a very difficult league to be successful to put up points, to do any of those things. When he speaks, it carries weight, especially around our younger guys, because he's been through it.

"(Pilawski) has seen good, he's seen bad and he has been through the good and the bad personally. It's nice to have him around. He's a great kid, good in the locker room, all those things that are extremely important to us."

The Stars host Sioux Falls in their home opener at 7 p.m. Friday.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or tgray@journalstar.com.

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