LANCERS NAME MIKE AIKENS HEAD COACH/GM FOR 2012-2013 SEASON
Thursday, April 12, 2012 - Submitted by Dan Fremuth
OMAHA, Neb. – The Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) are pleased to announce that Mike Aikens has been named Head Coach/GM for the 2012-2013 season. Michael Zucker will remain on as the team’s Associate Head Coach. Aikens becomes the 10th Head Coach in the 26-year history of the Lancers.
“Both Coach Aikens and Coach Zucker have done a tremendous job this season,” Lancers President/Managing Partner Ben Robert said. “They have obviously guided our team to a great deal of success on the ice but have also created a sense of camaraderie within our entire organization.”
Since taking over on November 30, 2011, Aikens and Zucker have guided the Lancers to a 27-11-1 mark, which has pushed Omaha to a 36-19-3 record overall this season. The Lancers are currently second in the highly competitive Western Conference and sit just one standings point back of the Conference-leading Lincoln Stars with two games to play. Under their guidance, the Lancers have registered two separate five-game winning streaks and have recorded five or more goals in a single game 15 times.
“Coach Aikens and Coach Zucker relate incredibly well to today’s athlete,” Robert said. “They have demonstrated the ability to both instruct and motivate our team while providing a nurturing environment for our players to develop.”
Aikens and Zucker are both in their second season with the Lancers and were promoted to Interim Head Coach and Interim Associate Head Coach respectively when former Lancers Head Coach/GM Bliss Littler was relieved of his duties.
“There was obviously a great deal of pressure on both of them this season,” Robert said. “But they have responded admirably to that pressure. Their ability to guide our team on the ice coupled with their interactions with our fans, housing families and parents make them perfectly suited to lead this team.”
Aikens previously served as a Head Coach in the USHL with the Rochester Mustangs during the 1998-99 season. After one season in Rochester, Aikens remained in the USHL serving as an Assistant Coach for both the Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks (1999-2000) and Chicago Steel (2000-2001). Aikens then shifted to the North American Hockey League (NAHL) where he guided the Billings Bulls over the next four seasons to an impressive 150-59-15 overall record and two Borne Cup championships. Aikens’ coaching career began in Omaha with the Lancers where he served as an Assistant Coach from 1995-1998.
“I’m incredibly excited and grateful to have this opportunity,” Aikens said. “The Lancers are one of the most storied franchises in junior hockey and I’m looking forward to continuing the history and tradition of this team. I want to thank Ben and the entire ownership group for having the confidence in both myself and Coach Zucker to be able to guide this team into all the excitement surrounding next season.”
Before coming to Omaha before the start of last season, Zucker had spent the previous two years as a Volunteer Assistant Coach at the University of Denver. Before joining the Pioneers, Zucker spent three seasons as an Assistant Coach for the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League (WHL).
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to continue working with the most prestigious organization in the USHL,” Zucker said. “I look forward to working with Ben, Coach Aikens and the rest of the Lancers staff for many years to come. Between the new rink, the Mutual of Omaha Battles on Ice and the best fans in the USHL, I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this team and look forward to bringing another championship back to Omaha.”
Omaha (36-19-3, 75 pts.) returns to action Friday evening when the team travels to Des Moines for its final road game of the 2011-2012 regular season. The Lancers will have their final tune-up before tomorrow’s showdown when the team practices today at the Civic Auditorium beginning at 3 PM. For more information, visit www.lancers.com.