Thursday, May 30, 2024

Menke Family Captain’s Scholarship To Support Omaha Hockey


Menke Family Establishes Scholarship for Omaha Hockey Captain                                                          

The family of Brandon M. Menke, M.D., has established the Menke Family Captain’s Scholarship for the captain of the Omaha Hockey program. This is the first position-specific scholarship for any sport within Omaha Athletics.
The investment in the Maverick Hockey program will assist Omaha Hockey head coach Mike Gabinet in recruiting and retaining prospective student-athletes who excel on the rink and demonstrate excellent leadership qualities. The scholarship will be in place for five years.
“I’m grateful to the Menke family for their investment in our program and our student-athletes,” Gabinet said. “Their gift demonstrates to our players just how much Maverick fans care about the success of this team and its players, on and off the ice. The team captain is a difference-maker for our hockey program, and I’m pleased to have this as a named position.”
Dr. Menke made a generous gift commitment through the University of Nebraska Foundation to establish the full scholarship. The amount of the gift is not being disclosed at the donor’s request.
He is a partner and ophthalmologist at Ilumin Eye Center in Omaha and a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. His wife, Dr. Kristen Menke, is a psychologist at Omaha Integrative Care. The couple has two daughters, Sloane and Blaire.
“To me, a great captain is not someone who scores the most goals or most assists but rather helps others achieve their goals to help the team as a whole,” Dr. Menke said. “A captain does not care who scores the winning goal as long as the team wins. A captain is a leader.”
He said he grew up playing hockey and loves the sport. He brought older daughter Sloane to her first hockey game when she was just 2 years old, and now younger daughter Blaire attends games, too. Maverick Hockey has become a family affair.
Dr. Menke said he hopes the family’s gift will inspire others to support the Maverick Hockey program.
“The close community and small college feel that UNO has, coupled with great hockey, made for the perfect match for my family to connect to,” he said. “My wife’s parents and my parents also instilled a mindset of giving back and philanthropy. Whether it be time, money or simply caring, giving back is what helps anything succeed.”
The inaugural recipient of the Menke Family Captain’s Scholarship will be announced by fall 2024. The scholarship can be renewed if the recipient continues to serve as team captain and is in good academic standing. The gift was made as part of Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future. The campaign is a historic effort to engage 150,000 benefactors to give $3 billion to support University of Nebraska students, faculty, academic and clinical programs and research to address the needs of the state. Scholarships are a top priority of the campaign.
“We are so grateful to the Menke family for their incredible generosity in support of Maverick Hockey student-athletes,” Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Adrian Dowell said. “The momentum of our hockey program is exciting and made possible by an incredible fanbase and donors like the Menke family.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Mike Kemp Presented With NCHC’s 2024 Distinguished Service Award

Mike Kemp

For his work as an administrator at the University of Nebraska Omaha and ambassador of college hockey, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) has honored Omaha Executive Associate Athletics Director Mike Kemp with the 2024 NCHC Distinguished Service Award. Kemp is retiring in May after a 48-year career in college athletics as a coach and administrator.

Kemp was bestowed with the NCHC Distinguished Service Award in person on Monday night, April 29, at the NCHC Annual Meeting dinner and reception at the Naples Grande Beach Resort. NCHC staff presented Kemp with the Distinguished Service Award with representatives from the entire membership in attendance.
While Kemp made a massive impact during his coaching career, his move to the ‘front office’ as an administrator was just influential. His biggest contribution to the NCHC, along with helping Omaha be a founding member of the Conference, is serving as the director of the NCHC Pod. In addition, Kemp has served on the NCHC’s Athletic Council during the entirety of the Conference (11 years).
“We are honored to present Mike with our Distinguished Service Award. He has been an important and influential dignitary in college hockey for many years,” said NCHC Commissioner Heather Weems. “As the first hockey coach at Omaha, he helped put the Mavericks on the map and has only continued to build the program in his administrative role. From serving as Chair of the Ice Hockey Championship Committee to hosting the NCHC Pod, Mike has always had the NCHC’s and college hockey’s best interest at heart. He is more than deserving of this award.”
Kemp played a major role in UNO’s Baxter Arena serving as the host venue for the NCHC Pod, which was held in Omaha in December of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kemp oversaw the unprecedented task of playing 38 NCHC games in 21 days with eight teams in one venue – something never done in any college sport – while helping complete it safely and successfully, which it was. From team arrivals, to locker room set-up and rotation, to practice and morning skate schedules, to venue operations and COVID-19 testing, Kemp had a hand in making sure the Pod was run smoothly while providing a secure environment for all.
In April 2021, Kemp was awarded the NCHC’s first Commissioner’s Award for his work in hosting and overseeing the NCHC Pod.
Kemp also served on the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship Committee for five years from 2017-22, including holding the role of Chair for two years in 2021 and 2022. While Chair, Kemp and his committee had to hand-select the 2021 NCAA Tournament field during the pandemic due to a lack of non-conference games and no Pairwise Ratings. He also had to adjust a regional location on short notice in 2021, while ensuring a safe and successful tournament. During his two years as Chair, Kemp presented the National Championship trophy to UMass (2021) in Pittsburgh and NCHC member Denver (2022) in Boston.
Along with coaching Omaha to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006, Kemp also secured Omaha’s first on-campus arena in his position as a UNO administrator. He played a key role in the design and construction of Baxter Arena, which opened in 2015. The Mavericks announced on April 19 that the ice at Baxter Arena would be renamed 'Kemp Ice’ in honor of their first head coach.
"This is another honor to highlight the impactful career of Mike Kemp." said Adrian Dowell, Vice Chancellor / Director of Athletics at Omaha. "We are very appreciative to the NCHC for appropriately recognizing Mike's contributions over decades to not only UNO but also the conference and college hockey."
Kemp has been a part of the Omaha Mavericks’ family for 27 years, serving in multiple functions. He has been in his current role as Omaha senior associate AD for events and facilities since being promoted in March of 2019. Prior to that, he was an associate athletic director at UNO for 12 years, moving into that role in 2009 after completing a 12-year run as the program’s first head hockey coach. A member of the Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame and Omaha Sports Hall of Fame, Kemp helped start the Omaha hockey program in 1997, joining the staff in 1996. He now oversees UNO’s hockey program and Baxter Arena in his current position.
Kemp is the seventh recipient of the NCHC Distinguished Service Award, which is not necessarily bestowed upon someone annually, but is presented to an individual who has served, supported and promoted the goals and ideals of the NCHC and who, through personal effort and dedication, has enhanced the ability of the Conference and/or its member institutions to provide a positive experience for the stu­dent-athletes enrolled at NCHC member institutions.
The inaugural NCHC Distinguished Service Award was presented to Mr. Bill Hybl, the Chairman and CEO of El Pomar Foundation, in 2016, while former Denver Director of Athletics Ron Grahame received the honor in 2017. In 2018, Peg Bradley-Doppes, former University of Denver Vice Chancellor for Athletics, and Brian Faison, former University of North Dakota Director of Athletics, were co-honorees, both of whom were heavily involved in the founding of the NCHC, along with 2019 winner Ken Ralph, the former Colorado College Director of Athletics. The most recent recipient is nine-year NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton, who received it in 2022 following his final season.
2016 – Bill Hybl, Chairman and CEO of El Pomar Foundation
2017 – Ron Grahame, former Athletics Director at University of Denver
2018 – Peg Bradley-Doppes, former University of Denver Vice Chancellor for Athletics
2018 – Brian Faison, former University of North Dakota Director of Athletics
2019 – Ken Ralph, former Colorado College Director of Athletics
2022 – Josh Fenton, former NCHC Commissioner

Friday, April 19, 2024

2024-25 Omaha Hockey Schedule

We’re starting to put together the pieces of the 2024-25 Omaha Hockey schedule. (Let us know if you hear of any games/series!)

Oct. 5, 2024 

Oct. 11-12, 2024
Ice Breaker Tournament – Las Vegas, Nevada
Omaha, Minnesota, Air Force Academy, Massachusetts

Friday, Oct. 11 
Saturday, Oct. 12

Oct. 25-26, 2024
@ Minnesota State Mankato (Mankato, MN)

Nov. 8-9, 2024
Western Michigan at Baxter Arena

Nov. 15-16, 2024
@ Arizona State (Tempe, AZ)

Nov. 22-23, 2024
Miami at Baxter Arena

Dec. 6-7, 2024
@ St. Cloud State (St. Cloud, MN)

Dec. 13-14, 2024
Lindenwood at Baxter Arena

Jan. 3-4, 2025
Coachella Valley Cactus Cup – Palm Springs, California

Friday, Jan. 3 – 3:30 p.m. – Omaha vs. Holy Cross
Saturday, Jan. 4 – 3:30 p.m. OR 7 p.m. – Omaha vs. Michigan Tech or UMass Lowell

Jan. 10-11, 2025
Colorado College at Baxter Arena

Jan. 17-18, 2025
@ Miami (Oxford, OH)

Jan. 24-25, 2025
St. Cloud State at Baxter Arena

Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2025
@ Denver (Denver, CO)

Feb. 7-8, 2025
Minnesota Duluth at Baxter Arena

Feb. 14-15, 2025
@ Western Michigan (Kalamazoo, MI)

Feb. 28-March 1, 2025
Arizona State at Baxter Arena

March 7-8, 2025
@ North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND)

March 14-16, 2025
First Round NCHC Playoffs (campus sites)

March 21-22, 2025
NCHC Frozen Faceoff (St. Paul, MN)

March 27-30, 2025
NCAA Tournament Regionals
Allentown, PA
Fargo, ND
Toledo, OH
Manchester, NH

April 10 & 12, 2025
Frozen Four
Enterprise Center (St. Louis, MO)

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Transfer Profile (2024): Defenseman Dylan Gratton (Penn State ➡️ Omaha)


Sophomore Defenseman Dylan Gratton

Former School: Penn State (Nittany Lions)

Hometown: Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Birthday: Feb. 25, 2003

Height: 6' 0"

Weight: 180

Shoots: Left

@DylanGratton1 (Twitter)

Junior Hockey Career: 

  • Played with the Sioux City Musketeers in 2021-22 (3 goals, 15 assists – 18 points), the Youngstown Phantoms in 2020-21 (4 goals, 13 assists – 17 points), and the Muskegon Lumberjacks in 2019-20 (1 goal, 8 assists – 9 points). Helped lead the Musketeers to its fourth Clark Cup Championship.
  • Had a +19 rating in the 2021-22 season with the Musketeers.

College Hockey Career:

  • 24 points (5 goals, 19 assists) in 69 games (2022-2024). 
  • Played in 36 games as a sophomore. 
  • As a freshman, led all Nittany Lion freshmen with 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists). His first goal for PSU was the game-winning goal in a 6-3 victory vs. Mercyhurst.

News articles:
“Gratton started most of his sophomore season alongside linemate Simon Mack. In December coach Guy Gadowsky called the duo his most consistent pairing and applauded Gratton’s individual performance throughout the year.”

Our thanks to the Sacred Heart Hockey blog for the inspiration for the blog post concept. 

Transfer Profile (2024): Forward Sam Stange (Wisconsin ➡️ Omaha)

Senior Forward Sam Stange

Former School: Wisconsin (Badgers)

Hometown: Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Birthday: April 20, 2001

Height: 6' 1"

Weight: 208

Shoots: Right

Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL Draft

@sam_stange3 (Twitter)

@samstange3 (Instagram)

Junior Hockey Career: 

  • Played with the Sioux City Musketeers and Sioux Falls Stampede (2019-20) in the USHL. Scored 45 points in 48 games (26 goals, 19 assists). Tied for fifth in scoring in the USHL that year. Named 2020 Third-Team All-USHL. 
  • Played for both Team Wisconsin (UMHSEHL) and Eau Claire North during the 2019-19 season. Named 2019 Wisconsin State Player of the Year. Named to the U.S. High School All-USA Hockey Second Team by USA Today. Named 2019 Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association All-State First Team.

College Hockey Career:

  • 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 106 games (2020-2024).
  • Saw limited playing time in the 2023-24 season, appearing in only 7 games. According to an article on, “Stange missed the last 16 games of the season as either a healthy scratch or because of a lower-body injury he suffered.” 
  • Impressive academic career – majored in neurobiology at Wisconsin. Named Academic All-Big Ten in 2022-23 and 2023-24, and was the Ivan B. Williamson Scholastic Award recipient in 2022-23.

News articles:
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to play at Omaha for my fifth year. The chance to develop under this coaching staff and play in front of the Baxter faithful is something I could not pass up,” Stange said. “The top-notch facilities and resources available to us, along with a great locker room, is also something I’m very excited for. I’m grateful to be a Maverick and I can’t wait to get started.”

“Stange comes off the Red Wings’ reserve list Aug. 15, and this move suggests they aren’t going to sign him.” 

Our thanks to the Sacred Heart Hockey blog for the inspiration for the blog post concept. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

Transfer Profile (2024): Forward Harrison Israels (Alaska ➡️ Omaha)


Senior Forward Harrison Israels 

Former School: Alaska (Nanooks) 

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

Birthday: Sept. 1, 1999

Height: 6' 1"

Weight: 200

Shoots: Left

Junior Hockey Career: 

  • Played with the Oakville Blades in the OJHL (2019-20). Scored 86 points (29 goals, 57 assists). Named the OJHL MVP.
  • In two seasons with the Blades, he recorded a total of 134 points (27 goals and 21 assists for 48 points in 2018-19).

College Hockey Career:

  • 53 points (33 goals, 20 assists) in 96 games (2021-2024).
  • Finished the 2023-24 season third in scoring with 26 points (20 goals, 6 assists).
  • Solid on special teams  – scored eight power play goals and 3 short-handed goals.
  • Impressive in face-offs: won 355 face-offs (.583 FO win percentage, a team-high)
  • Personal bests: 3 points in a game (Jan. 26, 2024 vs. LIU); hat trick (Jan. 26, 2024, first career hat trick, Alaska vs. Stonehill)
  • Scored two goals in a single game five separate times.
  • Appeared in 33 of 34 games for the Nanooks in 2023-24.
  • Finished with a +10 plus/minus rating.
  • Captain for the Nanooks (2022-23 and 2023-24)

Our thanks to the Sacred Heart Hockey blog for the inspiration for the blog post concept. 

Transfer Profile (2024): Forward Brady Risk (Alaska ➡️ Omaha)


Senior Forward Brady Risk

Former School: Alaska (Nanooks) 

Hometown: Medicine Hat, Alberta

Birthday: March 16, 1999

Height: 5' 9"

Weight: 175

Shoots: Right

Junior Hockey Career: 

  • Played with the Drumheller Dragons “A” of the AJHL in 2019-20. Scored 36 goals with 27 assists in 54 games.
  • In three previous seasons with the Dragons, he recorded 101 points (14 points in 2016-17, 33 points in 2017-18, and 54 points in 2018-19).

College Hockey Career:

  • 80 points (36 goals, 44 assists) in 97 games (2021-2024).
  • Finished the 2023-24 season with 13 goals and 20 assists (33 points). 
  • Personal bests: 4 points in a game (twice, most recently March 6, 2024 vs. Stonehill); hat trick (Jan. 7, 2022, Alaska vs. Maine)
  • Scored two or more points in a game 10 times in the 2023-24 season.
  • Finished the year with a +5 plus/minus rating
  • Alternate captain for the Nanooks (2023-24)

Our thanks to the Sacred Heart Hockey blog for the inspiration for the blog post concept.