Inspired and Inspiring Through Hockey

Photo courtesy of OMavs

Elizabeth Haag

Mike Gabinet will be starting his second season this year at UNO as the head coach of the men’s hockey team. After replacing past head coach Dean Blais in April of 2017, Gabinet went on to lead the Mavericks’ hockey team in a 17-17-2 season in 2017-2018. They ended the year eliminated from the NCHC playoffs, finishing ranked 6th in the conference.

Mike Gabinet first came to UNO as an associate head coach in April of 2016. Asked where he got his inspiration and passion to compete in hockey, both at the college level and professional level, Coach Gabinet said that he started playing at a young age with his buddies growing up, and was lucky enough to play competitively. This led him to scholarships, which allowed him to play Division I hockey at UNO from 2000 to 2004.

His biggest inspiration from coaches over the years was on a more personal level. His father was a football coach, and his grandfather was a hockey coach. Both left a lasting impression on him that helped drive him as a coach today.

When asked what he learned from these inspiring men, Gabinet said, “I learned that you need to earn respect from the people you care about. We try and teach these young men to earn respect from their professors and their teammates by the choices and the actions they make for themselves in the daily. If you respect others you will earn respect as a player.”

Coach Gabinet knows what leadership skills he looks to inspire or instill in his players, on and off the rink.

“Responsibility! We want our players to learn responsibility for themselves. Their parents or classmate are not going to make success happen for them,” Gabinet said. “They have to make their actions match their words.”

The men’s hockey team at UNO goes against some of the most competitive college teams in the nation. In the NCHC conference, they will go against teams such as number 6 St. Cloud State from Minnesota, number 5 Denver, and Minnesota Duluth – ranked first overall in Division I hockey.

How does Gabinet and his coaching staff prepare the men on the team to face elite squads under his leadership?

“The biggest thing is to take one step at a time,” Gabinet said. “We try to take the daily choices we make to the next level, so it can lead us one step closer to the future. Our long-distance goal is to be the best program out there in the country for men’s Division I hockey.”

Omaha students are all looking forward to what this coach can bring to the hockey program at UNO. He has learned lessons of responsibility and respect from his father and grandfather, and he continues to pass these lessons down to the young men who compete on the UNO rink today.

Professional hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” Like a great hockey player, Coach Gabinet is preparing the UNO Mavericks for a great hockey program, both now and in the future.