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Stars staff brings whole new 'old school' feel

Stars staff brings whole new 'old school' feel

Chris Michael, Lincoln Stars

Chris Michael (right) talks with player Casey Dornbach  during a practice at the Ice Box in 2017. Michael officially became the Lincoln Stars' head coach and general manager in April.

The Lincoln Stars had one of the smallest coaching staffs in the 2019-20 season. Things are about to look a lot different on the bench heading into 2020-21.

Lincoln officially had two coaches on its staff, tied with the Madison Capitols of the USHL for the smallest coaching staffs in the league this year. The 2019-20 USHL season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Stars have made some coaching moves, including shifting Chris Michael from associate head coach to general manager and head coach. In the offseason, Lincoln hired associate head coach Nick Peruzzi, assistant coach Michael Sdao and goalie coach Jason Power.

"It was the most important piece, in reality," Michael said of filling out a coaching staff. "Every person in our organization serves a purpose. Whether that is front office, coaches, players or billets; our rink crew. Everybody that is associated with us, we all serve a very important role.

"It's all about the people, and the most important thing to me is surrounding yourself around the right people and right mindset — guys that are willing to do stuff the right way no matter the situation."

From a player perspective, it means a lot more insight on and off the ice for returning and upcoming athletes to the Stars roster from guys that went through the same process.

"It's huge for the players to be able to have multiple coaches to talk to and get advice from," Stars forward Zach Urdahl said. "It's really important. More minds that can work together to find the right game plan to win."

With the recent hires, Michael wants to bring that old school Stars feeling back to the Ice Box and the USHL. The Stars made the USHL playoffs 12 of their first 13 years in the league, winning two Clark Cup Championships including in the inaugural season in 1996-97.

"I played in this league. I played against the Lincoln Stars," Michael said. "...I'll never forget every game I played at the Ice Box in front of 5,010 people that didn't like me at the time. I loved it. That was junior hockey.

"That's the mystique of Lincoln and for us, 'old school.' The biggest word to describe it is 'proud.' A lot of people were proud to be a Lincoln Star, a lot of people were proud to support the Lincoln Stars, and when you talk about back in the day or the building being full and all those things that happened on the ice whether you are scoring goals, big hits or fights here and there, people were proud. If you really do your homework and have stayed in Nebraska long enough and around Lincoln, they are blue-collar people. They expect you to work, they expect you to compete and they expect you not to back down to any situation you are presented towards you. That's what we are and that is what we are building here. That's the team we will have. A team Lincoln can be proud of."


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