Former Blazer guides Mavericks

By Jamie Harkins

April 19, 2017 2:56 PM

TAKING THE HELM Former Lloydminster Blazers defenceman Mike Gabinet has been named the new head coach of the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Lloydminster’s junior A hockey program regularly produces National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) players, but now it’s stepping into the coaching ranks.
Edmonton’s Mike Gabinet, who lined up on the blueline for the 1999-00 Lloydminster Blazers junior A club was announced as the new head coach of the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) Mavericks hockey team on April 5.
Gabinet, 35, played four seasons for the Mavericks on a NCAA hockey scholarship following his tour of duty with the Blazers and returned to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Division 1 club in 2016-17 as an associate coach.
“First off I love the City of Omaha and secondly to work for the team that you once played for is pretty neat,” said Gabinet, who served as an alternate captain in his senior year with the Mavericks. “I have such fond memories, so coming back to the program that I once played for was pretty special to me and something that was an attractive opportunity.”
Gabinet said it was his year with the Blazers that paved the way to continued success in the NCAA. He said they had a great team that season led by former head coach Gord Thibodeau and there are still many people from that club he stays in touch with.
“I’m still really good friends with Kris Wiebe who is an assistant coach with the team now,” he said. “It was your first year away from home, so I think that helps you mature as a young adult and I had a really good billet family there. Then also you’re playing at a higher level of hockey, so it was a perfect stepping ground.”
Coaching became Gabinet’s career in the 2012-13 season as an assistant with Edmonton’s Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks hockey team after completing his playing career with the East Coast Hockey League’s Ontario Reign the previous winter. He served as the Ooks head coach in 2015-16 and guided the team to 36-0 record before taking up associate duties with former Mavericks head coach Dean Blais last season.
Gabinet said the opportunity to be around the club for a year and learn from Blais was an incredible help in getting familiarized with the program again. He added the role as an associate coach allowed him to take on a large responsibility with the team and gain valuable work experience in the day-to-day matters of the Mavericks.
“You have to continue to evolve as a coach and get better,” said Gabinet, noting he keeps in touch with the Bobcats coaching staff regularly in an attempt to find future Mavericks players.
“I’m fortunate to have a lot of people in my life who I consider to have been very good mentors who I’m constantly learning from. So, I think that’s very important if you want to have success. You have to continue to grow and challenge your comfort zone and continue to get better.”

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