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Dominick Mersch is used to picking up pucks after practice — he's a rookie.

It's what he does with that extra ice time that separates him from a lot of players in the United States Hockey League.

The Lincoln Stars forward uses that time to work hard for not only himself, but his teammates as well. Working on shots and passing skills post-practice.

It's a work ethic his brother Michael taught him, and their father, Mike, taught Michael.

When Dominick was 2 years old, their father was diagnosed with cancer, and died in October 2000, leaving Michael to teach the game of hockey to his younger brother.

Dominick Mersch knows it is something special to learn from his older brother, who now plays for the NHL's Los Angeles Kings. Michael made his NHL debut Dec. 11, and has recorded a goal and an assist in 12 games played thus far.

“For me it is something to strive for,” Dominick said. “I want to try and follow in his steps and work hard and know it's possible, this route (junior hockey). He has worked really hard to make it to the NHL, going through all the steps of junior and college hockey.”

The brothers are six years apart, but that has not stopped the two from enjoying the game they love together. From driveway hockey in Parkridge, Illinois, to playing shin hockey in the basement, Dominick said Michael taught him a lot about about the sport.

“Just out in the driveway, or on Rollerblades he taught me to shoot and stick handle,” the Stars rookie said. “I would always get a little pissed off at him or (be) crying and throwing a shinny-stick across the basement floor, but he was always looking to do the best thing for me. He taught me hockey.”

Growing up, Dominick knew it was a game he always wanted to play, watching his father teach his brother.

Mike Mersch finished his hockey career in 1990 with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, formerly of the International Hockey League.

“He taught my brother and of course I saw them playing, so I wanted to do it,” Dominick said. “I want to follow in my dad's footsteps and my brother's as well.”

Following a legacy before him, Dominick knows he is on the right path.

“They show hard work pays off,” he said. “All the time you spend away from home and giving up things that regular high school kids get to do. Working hard and going the extra mile really pays off.”

Mersch has two goals and four assists for the Stars this season.

Lincoln (19-13-0) hosts the Omaha Lancers at 7 p.m. Friday at the Ice Box.

Briefly

* Former Star Mike Gillespie is back with the team. Lincoln added the forward from Ohio State on Thursday. Gillespie shared the team lead with 34 points last season, recording 18 goals and 16 assists for Lincoln. He had one goal in eight games at Ohio State.

* Lincoln's Biagio Lerario committed to Northeastern University. Lerario will join Stars teammate Grant Jozefek and former Stars Colton Saucerman, Kevin Roy and Zach Aston-Reese at Northeastern. In his third season with Lincoln, Lerario has 11 goals and nine assists in 27 games.

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