Brannon McManus didn’t need much of an introduction to the city of Omaha or the UNO hockey program before transferring here this past summer.
A member of the Omaha Lancers (USHL) for parts of two seasons, he was playing in Omaha when Baxter Arena first opened its doors in 2015. It’s now come full circle as McManus is back in a city he’s familiar with after four years at the University of Minnesota.
“It played a big factor,” he said. “I had options in the (transfer) portal, and it was a crazy experience, but I knew right away I was comfortable with Omaha. I went to school here for a year, I have my billet family from the Lancers here and I knew a lot of people on this roster before coming in. Hockey is a small world in that regard.
“So after just talking to some of those people, it seemed like a good fit, and the coaching staff had a lot of interest in me right away. It’s a place I feel very comfortable.”
McManus, who played a part in ending the Mavericks season last spring with the Gophers, skated in 136 career games in the maroon and gold. An offensive-minded forward, he put up 39 goals and added 48 assists in that time, including 9-16-25 last season.
The California native has accomplished a lot in his hockey career since his youth days on the roller hockey rink, but the process this summer was a whirlwind at first. He’s excited for this next step.
“It didn’t really sink in how crazy of a time it was until I was finalizing my decision to go to Omaha,” McManus said. “My process was pretty quick compared to some of the other kids in the transfer portal, but that first week was kind of hectic as all of these coaches are coming after you. And I get it, coaches are trying to prepare for the season so they have to know rather quickly.
“I’d be lying if I said it was easy though. I was at Minnesota for four years and I had a life and a lot of memories there, so that was a tough part. I had it narrowed down to about four teams after that first week and that’s when you get a little more excited, but ultimately the opportunity here was too hard to pass up.”
Standing at 5-foot-11, McManus adds speed, skill and another right-shot option to an already-deep Omaha lineup. Like several other players around the country, he fell victim to a numbers game and a roster log jam thanks to the extra year of eligibility. He also had to search for a school with a graduate program in Business Marketing.
He’s now the fifth member of the current Omaha roster who has transferred in from another Division I program. McManus has actually previously played with two of them. He and Nate Knoepke were teammates as freshmen at Minnesota and he was both a teammate and roommate of Jack Randl while playing for the Lancers.
With less than a month until the puck drops this season, McManus has grown comfortable with his new group. He said he felt part of the team after his first week here and the transition was a smooth one. Now, he just wants to make the most of the opportunity.
“I came here to win,” he said. “We had a team meeting when we got here this fall and we all kind of agreed it’s time for redemption. We have all the right pieces coming back—a lot of older guys are staying—and I’m confident that we have the team to do something special this year.”