Omaha Lancers fined $20,000 by the USHL over travel policy, league has offered to revisit rule

Breaking a protocol set in place by the USHL, the Lancers received a $20,000 fine by the league for flying home from the Fall Classic instead of taking a bus back to Omaha as required.

The USHL Fall Classic is taking place at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex outside of Pittsburgh, which is also the practice facility for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Kirsten Krull / The Rink Live

OMAHA, Neb. — The Omaha Lancers have been fined $20,000 by the USHL for flying back from the Fall Classic in September instead of taking a bus back as outlined by the league.

In a statement released by the Lancers, they said the bus company they had booked months in advance told them they would be unable to provide a relay driver or a sleep-in bus for the drive back from Pittsburgh to Omaha, resulting in the Lancers facing a 28-hour trip home. Lancers owner Michael Picozzi reached out to USHL commissioner Bill Robertson asking for an exception to a rule that punishes teams for traveling by plane and the request was denied. Picozzi asked for the exception in order to prevent players from additional stress and missing extra school days.

"At the Omaha Lancers, the mental and physical health of our players is paramount. No nonsensical rule or politics can alter our decision-making process when it comes to the well-being of our players," Picozzi said in the statement. "The USHL is the best development league in North America. While we disagree with the league's position, we accept it and are ready to move on. However, hopefully the USHL will revisit this rule, which, in my opinion is harming players."

The Rink Live has obtained information from the USHL, and the league says that the USHL is proud of its record on the health, safety and care of its players. The league says it has a track record of putting player health and safety first and have multiple initiatives to promote player health and safety such as for mental health and concussions. The USHL also said it has canceled games due to inclement weather and have always been a leader in the area of player safety.

After watching his mom fight breast cancer as a kid, Tucker Shedd created The Mini Sticks Charitable Organization to help those impacted by cancer
The Green Bay Gamblers and the Omaha Lancers make a deal, Muskegon makes a trio of trades, rookies keep scoring and more.
Tri-City bolsters lineup by adding Muskegon's leading scorer and Sabres' sixth-round pick Jake Richard
USHL wins leader Jack Spicer continues strong rookie season and announces commitment to Nebraska-Omaha
RoughRiders team president and bench boss isn't interested in a team hall of fame, but he'd likely be the first inductee if there was one.
Muskegon trades two of its leading scorers in Owen Mehlenbacher and Tyler Dunbar to Fargo and Lincoln
Fargo remains a force, Black Hawks and Phantoms stay hot, and standings logjam continues
Minnesota native Anton Castro heads to opposite side of Border Battle while Matej Marinov will head to Quinnipiac
Jacob Fowler earns second straight weekly honor while Cole Knuble and Madison's Nick Wallace round out USHL Players of the Week
USHL writer Jordan McAlpine takes a look back at the weekend and previews what's on tap in the USHL

As far as the league's stance on fining the Lancers, Omaha said it informed the USHL days before traveling to Pittsburgh for the Sept. 24-25 games that the team didn't have relay travel and that the league provided numerous alternatives for return travel and also offered to pick up the associated costs for the return trip.


The rule prohibiting air travel has been longstanding and is in place to prevent competitive advantages. The USHL went on to say each team is faced with different financial situations, and all 15 other teams who participated in the Fall Classic abided by the rule without incident, and there were teams who had to drive farther than Omaha.

The USHL has offered to revisit this rule at their next board meeting this winter.

Kirsten Krull covers juniors and prospects for The Rink Live. She is a 2020 St. Cloud State graduate, and has been working in the hockey world for over six years, covering many levels of the game from juniors to the NHL.
What to read next
Friday rundown; Pair of Lancers commit to Western Michigan while two Fighting Saints also announce their commitment
USHL writer Jordan McAlpine gets you ready for the weekend and caught up on what's happening around the league
Lakeville South product and NHL Draft prospect Tanner Ludtke enjoys breakout season with the Lincoln Stars
Youngstown's Jacob Fowler and William Whitelaw named USHL Players of the Week along with Sioux City defenseman Ren Morque