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New benches at Ice Box honor longtime fan
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New benches at Ice Box honor longtime fan

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Section G, row 2, seat 14 belonged to Phyllis Eliker for many years at the Ice Box — a seat that has seen the trials and triumphs of the Lincoln Stars.

Eliker, who has attended Stars games for the past 24 seasons, passed away July 28, but her memory lives on in the Ice Box with two new wooden benches in her memory.

“The benches were kind of my idea of what we could give back,” Tim Eliker, Phyllis' son, said. “What could we do to honor my mom? She liked the Stars.”

The benches were built by another former Stars season ticket holder, Adam Kohl.

Tim Eliker, better known as "Swede" and who provides intermission entertainment shooting hot dogs to fans, started watching the Stars on the North Zone stage with Phyllis before eventually getting season tickets in the 2000-01 season in section G under the visiting announcers booth.

Phyllis rarely missed a game even after suffering from thyroid cancer 10 years ago, moving the Elikers from the top of section G to behind the glass. After having MRSA from an infection from foot surgery that ate away at her ninth and 10th vertebra, Phyllis watched the Stars from a wheelchair the past three seasons.

“Every Friday, Saturday when the Stars played, we'd go,” Swede said. "And every time we'd go to the away games — Omaha, Sioux City, and me and my mom even went to Thunder Bay (Ontario) together. We went to Green Bay, we went to Chicago, we even flew on an airplane just to go see them play.”

Phyllis was even a hero for the Stars early on in the team's 25-year history, after former Stars defenseman Nick Fuher (1999-01) was going to be a healthy scratch for the Stars on the road in Des Moines, Iowa. A late injury to another Stars player left an open spot, but with Fuher's gear back in Lincoln, Phyllis made a stop at the Ice Box before making the nearly three-hour and 189-mile trip with Fuher's gear so he could dress that evening.

“That's the testament of what the Lincoln Stars are,” Stars head coach and general manager Chris Michael said. “What they mean to people and what we are trying to bring back, in that sense. There is so much pride, so much support from so many people. Not just Phyllis, but there are countless people in this town that have been following the Stars around for the 25 years that they've been around.

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“It's people like her and it's people that have been around and supported this place for so long. That's why we are doing what we are doing. That's what it's all about. It's about the fans, because without the fans we are nothing.”

Lincoln begins the 2020-21 regular season at 7 p.m. Saturday against Tri-City in Kearney.

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