Omaha jr hockey team idle as player treatment investigated
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha junior hockey team has had its next three games postponed as its league investigates management’s treatment of players.
Omaha Lancers players had threatened to boycott the games and coaches and support staff have resigned in response to management’s budget cuts, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
The Lancers play in the United States Hockey League, the top junior league in the nation and a pathway to college hockey for many of its players, who are ages 16 to 21.
The USHL said in a statement Thursday night league representatives would be in Omaha on Friday to meet with the Lancers ownership group and that it was in the best interest of the players to postpone their three games this weekend.
“The USHL will begin an investigation into the reports regarding the Omaha Lancers,” the statement said. “The Omaha ownership has pledged its full cooperation and support.”
The Lancers cut in half the budget for buying hockey sticks, team meals were inadequate, and a contract to use video scouting software was not renewed, former assistant coach Tate Maris told the World-Herald.
At least two assistant coaches and the team’s athletic trainer have resigned, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources.
The Lancers announced they have hired Gary Graham as interim coach. Graham had been coaching the Indiana Jr. Fuel U18 team. He replaces Sean Walsh, who had been named interim coach Wednesday.
The Lancers also announced the formation of a hockey advisory board to provide advice to senior management on leadership and to counsel players, coaches and staff.
Lancers president David DeLuca did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment.
The Lancers are 8-4-2 and in fourth place in their eight-team division.