Lincoln Stars have a group of key players returning for the 2022-23 season
Cameron Whitehead and Antonio Fernandez are a couple of notable names from last season coming back to the stars this year, but the team is also excited about the players they have coming in that head coach Rocky Russo says will be a part of something special.
LINCOLN, Neb. — After an upset at the hand of the Waterloo Black Hawks in the 2022 Clark Cup playoffs, the Lincoln Stars have key returners from last season and have added new faces in the mix, making this a team the Stars are excited about.
"Our veteran players have an opportunity to learn from that (last season's playoff loss to Waterloo)," said head coach Rocky Russo. "They're gonna come back a bit hungry with a chip on their shoulder. They felt like we had a really good opportunity to take a deep run, and hats off to Waterloo for finding a way to beat us but we're excited about our group. We've added a lot of fresh blood and those guys are gonna be a part of something special here this year."
The 2021-22 Lincoln Stars went on to finish with a 35-20-0-7 record with Rocky Russo in his first season as head coach with the team. Aidan Thompson led the squad last season in points with 82, where Lucas Wahlin was the team leader in goals with 31. Between their goaltenders Kaidan Mbereko and Cameron Whitehead, their goaltending had a 3.22 GAA and a .891 save percentage. The Stars were upset in the first round of the 2022 Clark Cup playoffs, as they lost the three-game series in a heartbreaking 5-3 OT loss.
- Former Stars assistant coach George Lewis left the organization and accepted a position at Penn State as the director of hockey operations.
- Yu Sato signed to play for the Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in the KHL after playing two seasons in Lincoln.
- The Stars traded Griffin Jurecki to the Omaha Lancers in exchange for forward Michael Mesic and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 USHL Phase II Draft.
- The Stars hired Mike Zannella as an assistant coach, who spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach for Elmira College.
- Michael Mesic is a player to keep an eye on after being traded to the Stars from the Lancers. Mesic led the North Iowa Bulls of the NAHL in assists with 31 and accumulated 49 points last season. He is committed to Northern Michigan.
- Antonio Fernandez will be returning this year and is committed to Princeton. The defenseman had 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points in 2021-22.
- Henry Nelson is will be another key returner on the Stars blue line this year. Last season he had 14 points.
- Mason Marcellus is returning to the Stars this year as a Quinnipiac commit. Last year he had 10 goals and 36 assists in 62 games.
- Cameron Whitehead was drafted by the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and after a strong season last year with the Stars head coach Rocky Russo says they expect him to be one of the best goaltenders in the USHL this year.
The Stars play at the Ice Box in Lincoln, Neb. The arena seats just over 5,000 fans, and became the home site for the organization upon their arrival in 1997. The rink is located on the Nebraska State Fairgrounds.
The Lincoln Stars will begin their season on Sept. 22 in Pittsburgh at the Dick's Sporting Goods Classic, where they will face-off against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.