Nebraska-Omaha Picks Alum Gabinet as New Coach
CHN Staff Report
Nebraska-Omaha has selected Mike Gabinet, an alumnus and recent assistant coach, as the third head coach in its program's history. He replaces Dean Blais, who stepped down last month after eight seasons.
“We undertook an extensive search, and Mike rose to the top of our candidate pool because of his detailed, comprehensive approach to creating a sustainable culture of excellence,” UNO athletic director Trev Alberts said in a statement. “He has the passion and understanding of what it means to be a Maverick, and he has the ability to institute the kind of structure and attention to detail that will allow us to be successful in college hockey’s toughest conference.
“It also was very important to us to get the feedback from the players and to a man, they all endorsed Mike as the kind of coach who is a great teacher and someone who could help our program take the next step.”
Gabinet rejoined the program as an assistant coach last year, after a stint as head coach of Northern Alberta. At 35 years old, he becomes the youngest active head coach in Division I.
According the Associated Press, Gabinet received a five-year contract, taking him through 2021-22, and will receive $250,000 annual base pay, with incentives.
“I came to Omaha last year because of my passion for this program and the great experience I had here as a student-athlete," Gabinet said. "That’s one of the reasons why my wife and I are looking forward to raising our family here.
“The Omaha community has been a great supporter of our program, and I’m looking forward to building that bond with our fans and my fellow alumni, many of whom still live in the area. I’m amazed by how far UNO has come since my playing days and I’m excited about where we’re going.”
Gabinet played for Nebraska-Omaha in the early stages of the program's history, and was recruited by the team's first head coach, Mike Kemp, who is now the school's associate athletic director.
“I have known Mike since he was a junior player in Canada, and I always admired him as a character person who was a great leader and someone who cared about his teammates," Kemp said. "As a player, he analyzed what we did and made respectful suggestions. He was a student of the game, even as a student-athlete.
“As I followed his career, I saw the same traits. He has a great mind for the game and is a great on-ice teacher. That was evident in our power play this year. Mike coached our power play unit to be the best in the NCHC this past season, one year after it was ranked seventh out of eight teams. In fact, it was best power play we’ve had since we led the nation in 2007-08."
With NAIT, Gabinet won the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Championship in 2015-16 with a 36-0 record, only the second time in 51 years that a team had finished undefeated in the conference. He was named ACAC Coach of the Year and became the first rookie head coach to guide his team to an undefeated season in Canadian college hockey history.
Prior to that, he was an associate coach at NAIT for three seasons.
A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Gabinet played defense for the Mavericks from 2000-04 and was an alternate captain as a senior. In 130 career games, he scored six goals and 41 assists for 47 points.
Gabinet was a draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2001 and played professionally in the American Hockey League, the ECHL and in Europe before turning to coaching in 2012.