Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame
The Ralston Arena is the proud home of the Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame. Visit the Ralston Arena this fall and see the plaques of the players and builders who have contributed to Omaha's rich hockey history from 1939 to the present. The display will be locatecd on the west wall of the main arena and will be open to the public daily and can also be viewed at every Ralston Arena event this fall. Check back for the specific date the Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame wall will be open.
The Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc.
The Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame was first founded in 1960 by Omaha World-Herald sportswriter Robert Phipps and Omaha Knight general manager Ken Wilson. After the induction of Gordie Howe in 1961, there were no further additions to the Hall of Fame.
In 2001, the organization was re-founded by Gary Anderson and Jim Semerad. Since then, 24 more members have been added to the list.
The Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc., is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that has donated over $43,000 to charity. Its primary focus has been to recognize individuals who have made lasting contributions to Omaha’s hockey heritage. Those honored have been players, coaches, or builders.
In 2003, the Motto McLean Service to Hockey Award was started, honoring individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport through their longtime service to the sport.
The Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame Foundation is made up of nine individuals who serve on a volunteer board. For further information, contact President Gary Anderson.
Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame Members
Ted Baer - Owner/Builder - Inducted October 11, 2001
As the owner of the Omaha Lancers he brought the sport back to Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum in 1989, where the team won 10 league championships and played to nearly 300 consecutive sellout crowds. The Lancers captured the 2001 national junior championship, four United States Hockey League regular season titles and added six playoff titles.
Eddy Bruneteau - Player - Inducted: October 11, 2001
One of the original Omaha Knights in 1939, he played from 1939-41, then spent several seasons in the National Hockey League before returning to play for Omaha from 1949-51. He shares the all-time record for career goals with 98 with Wayne Schaab. He was one of the co-founders of youth hockey in Omaha and also served a half-season as coach of the Lancers.
Modere "Mud" Bruneteau - Coach - Inducted: February 11, 2005
Coach of the Omaha Knights from 1946-51 in the USHL and again for a half season in 1959-60 in the IHL. He led the team to three regular season titles and one playoff championship in the USHL and had an overall coaching record of 181-137-46. He was named The Hockey News coach of the year in pro hockey in 1951. As a Detroit Red Wing in 1936, he scored the only goal in the longest game ever played.
Andre Dupont - Player - Inducted February 11, 2005
A defenseman for the Omaha Knights for two seasons, from 1969-71, he helped the team win two straight regular season and playoff titles in the Central Hockey League. He was named CHL Rookie of the Year in 1970 and co-MVP in 1971. He went on to play over 800 NHL games and earned two Stanley Cup titles with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1974 and 1975.
Jack Egers - Player - Inducted February 2, 2007
A high-scoring forward with a booming slap shot, he won the Central Hockey League scoring title in 1969-70 with 42 goals and 48 assists. He was named The Hockey News minor league player of the year that season and spent parts of six seasons in the National Hockey League with the Rangers, St. Louis and Washington.
Bill Fairbairn - Player - Inducted October 10, 2003
A talented and hard-working forward, he played from 1966-69 as an Omaha Knight, scoring 51 goals and 80 assists in 141 games. He was named to the Central Hockey League's second all-star team in 1969 before embarking on a 10-year NHL career with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and St. Louis Blues, scoring 162 goals.
Jake Forbes - Player - Inducted October 10, 2001
He played 376 games, more than any other Omaha Knight in the team's history in regular season play from 1945-51. As an all-star defenseman and team captain, he was a teammate of some of the greatest hockey legends of all-time, such as Gordie Howe, Terry Sawchuk and Marcel Pronovost. After his Omaha career, he also was a player-coach in St. Louis and Sherbrooke before he returned to Omaha. He spent many years as a linesman in the International and Central Hockey Leagues and was a co-founder of youth hockey in Omaha. Among Jake's many playing accomplishments was scoring the longest goal ever in professional hockey with a goalie in the nets. It happened on February 8, 1949, in Omaha. Jake cleared the puck from deep in his own zone, banked the disc off the side boards and watched it slide under the stick of Kansas City goaltender Al Rollins. After the game, Jake and his teammates measured the distance at 215 feet. He also scored a goal as a defenseman and then filled in as a goalie because of an injury in the same game.
Mike Hastings - Coach - Inducted January 23, 2009
The all-time leader in wins in the United States Hockey League, he led the Omaha Lancers to regular season championships in 2001-02, 2004-05 and 2007-08 and playoff titles in 1997-98, 2000-01 and 2007-08. He stepped down as coach after winning the national junior hockey championship in 2008. He registered a 529-210-56 record over his 14 seasons behind the bench. He was twice named the USHL's coach of the year and five times was named the league's general manager of the year.
Gordie Howe - Player - Inducted August 24, 1960
As a 17-year-old wing, he quickly established himself as a player for the Omaha Knights in 1945-46. He earned second-team all-star honors while scoring 22 goals and adding 26 assists in his only minor league pro season. The next year, he began his legendary NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. Howe's impact on Omaha hockey and the game in general is indelible. In all, he played 26 NHL seasons and six more in the World Hockey Association, scoring 975 goals. He finally retired after playing a full season for the Hartford Whalers in the NHL in 1979-80 at the age of 52.
J.J. "Jake" Isaacson - Owner/Builder - Inducted February 2, 2007
He served as the general manager and executive secretary of the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben for 31 years, from 1932-63. Isaacson engineered an agreement to obtain the ice-making equipment from the Duluth, Minn., Arena, which had been damaged by a storm, and install it in the Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum in time for the 1939-40 season. He also obtained a working agreement with the Detroit Red Wings and gained entrance into the American Hockey Association. He helped arrange and promote three regular-season NHL games and two AHL games in the 1950s and brought back the Knights in 1959 in the International Hockey League.
Fred Knipscheer - Player - Inducted October 11, 2002
The native of Fort Wayne, Ind., scored the winning goal in overtime as the Omaha Lancers posted their first-ever victory in their second season in 1987-88. He went on to become the first Lancer to play in the NHL. Knipscheer was a second-team All-American at St. Cloud State. He was signed by Boston and played for the Bruins and the St. Louis Blues. He also played in the American Hockey League and in the International Hockey League.
Mike Kemp - Coach - Inducted February 5, 2010
The Duluth, Minn., native was the first coach for the University of Nebraska at Omaha, taking over the fledgling program in June, 1996. He guided the Mavericks to a 177-204-53 record in 12 seasons. Kemp coached UNO to the CCHA championship game in the school's first season in the league in 1999-2000 and to the NCAA tournament in 2006. Five players earned All-America honors and 12 were named to the all-CCHA team under Kemp. With the quick success of the program, UNO established itself among the top schools in the nation in attendance.
Sam Lavitt - Player - Inducted October 11, 2002
Sam Lavitt played three seasons, from 1946-49, for the Omaha Knights after returning from duty in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II as a pilot. He played 176 games and scored 29 goals and 52 assists as a defenseman before being traded by the parent Red Wings to Minneapolis. He returned to Omaha following his playing career and helped other ex-Knights in the formative years of youth hockey in the city. Lavitt was also a star with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League prior to World War II.
Don Luce - Player - Inducted October 11, 2002
A 6-2, 185-pound center for the Knights for two seasons, he scored 22 goals in each of the 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons as a prospect for the parent New York Rangers. In his second year, he was a first-team all-star and helped lead the Knights to the regular season and playoff titles as the team set CHL-era franchise attendance records. Luce played briefly for the Rangers before being traded to Detroit, then to Buffalo. With the Sabres, he developed into an all-star and enjoyed his best season in 1974-75 when he scored 33 goals and 43 assists and won the league's Bill Masterton Trophy. He finished his 12-year NHL career with Toronto and had 225 career goals. He later served as the director of player personnel for the Buffalo Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Motto McLean - Player - Inducted October 11, 2001
A native of Dalmeny, Scotland, Motto came to Omaha as a member of the Omaha Knights in 1947. He played a total of four seasons before continuing his career in Edmonton, St. Louis and Sherbrooke. After his playing career ended, he coached the junior Flin Flon Bombers, then returned to Omaha to raise his family. He made a brief comeback with the 1960-61 Omaha Knights before retiring for good. In all, he played 251 games for the Knights -- the second-most of anyone -- scoring 84 goals and 99 assists. He was one of the main founders of youth hockey in Omaha, and helped advance the sport at every level, from pee wees to adults His No. 8 was retired by the Omaha Lancers. In 2000, the Hitchcock Ice Arena was renamed the Motto McLean Ice Arena to honor his contributions to the sport.
Max McNab - Player - Inducted October 10, 2003
He played two seasons in Omaha, scoring 20 goals in 37 games in 1945-46 before scoring 44 goals in 44 games the following season for the Knights. He played for the Detroit Red Wings and was a member of the 1949-50 Stanley Cup champions. McNab's long career in hockey included serving as the president of the Central Hockey League and as a general manager and executive in the NHL.
Don Martineau - Player - Inducted February 11, 2005
A two-year Omaha Knight from 1972-74, he was a tough and talented wing who scored 34 goals and had 54 assists. His hard-checking style helped the Knights win the 1973 Adams Cup and finish second in the CHL both years. He went on to play in the NHL with the Atlanta Flames, Minnesota North Stars and Detroit Red Wings before retiring and settling in Waterloo, Neb.
Don Morrison - Player & Owner - Inducted February 11, 2011
He played 105 games in two seasons for the Knights in 1945-46 and 1946-47, scoring 64 goals and handing out 68 assists. He went on to play parts of two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings and one season with the Chicago Blackhawks. After his career, Don and his brother, Rod, returned to Omaha and started a construction firm. The Morrisons took over all ice operations at Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum in the summer of 1960. Don served as team president and Rod as the vice president. The brothers operated the team in the IHL for three seasons, then oversaw the operation of the Knights in the first two seasons of the Central Professional Hockey League from 1963-65. Attendance under the Morrisons increased four straight seasons and in 1963-64, the team led the league.
Rod Morrison - Player & Owner - Inducted February 11, 2011
Rod played 36 games and had eight goals and seven assists in the 1945-46 season. He played six seasons in the American Hockey League with the Indianapolis Capitals and spent a half season with the Red Wings in 1947-48. After his career, Rod and brother Don returned to Omaha and started a construction firm. The Morrisons took over all ice operations at Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum in the summer of 1960. Don served as team president and Rod as the vice president.
Jed Ortmeyer - Player - Inducted February 20, 2015
He rose from the ranks of Omaha’s youth hockey program to star for the Omaha Lancers from 1997-99 before going on to a standout collegiate career at the University of Michigan, from 1999 through 2003. Jed then became the first native-Omahan to forge a career in the National Hockey League when he joined the New York Rangers in 2003-04. Jed played parts of nine seasons in the NHL for Nashville, San Jose and Minnesota in addition to the Rangers, appearing in a total of 345 games.
Marcel Pronovost - Player - Inducted October 11, 2002
He was a 19-year-old rookie when he made his professional debut as an Omaha Knight defenseman in 1949. The French-speaking Pronovost played for coach Mud Bruneteau, who also spoke French, and scored 13 goals and 39 assists and was a first-team all-star and rookie of the year as the Knights captured the regular season championship. After a 20-year NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, he coached in the minor leagues before compiling a 52-29-13 record in two seasons behind the Buffalo Sabres bench. A veteran of 1,206 NHL games, he played on Stanley Cup teams in Detroit and Toronto. He is in the NHL Hall of Fame.
Angelo Ricci - Player - Inducted February 3, 2006
He established the Omaha Lancer record for scoring during his two-year stay in 1989-91. Ricci scored 72 goals and handed out 104 assists for 176 points and helped the team to one Anderson Cup and two Clark Cub titles. He went on to score 64 goals and 97 assists during a four-year career at the University of Denver. He then played three seasons in minor pro hockey.
Terry Sawchuk - Player - Inducted October 10, 2003
Regarded as the greatest goaltender ever, he came to Omaha as a 17-year-old rookie in 1947-48 and was the United States Hockey League's rookie of the year. His career nearly ended when he was stuck in the eye with a stick on his eighteenth birthday late in December. He received three stitches in his eyeball, missed five games and returned to play every game the rest of the season. The next season, he was rookie of the year in the American Hockey League and the following year won the title in the NHL with Detroit. He won the Vezina Trophy three times in his 20-year NHL career and led his teams to four Stanley Cup titles while recording 501 victories and 115 shutouts in regular season and playoff action.
Frank Serratore - Coach - Inducted October 10, 2003
He became coach and general manager in 1988-89 of a last-place Omaha Lancer team that had won just 19 games in three seasons and led the team to the regular season and playoff titles and a runner-up finish in the national junior tournament. The success spurred a rise in attendance and popularity in hockey and the Lancers. He went on to serve as the head coach at the University of Denver, the Minnesota Moose of the IHL and since 2002 has been head coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Wayne Schaab - Player - Inducted February 8, 2008
A player for three seasons for the Omaha Knights from 1972-75, he was a two-time Central Hockey League leading scorer and the league's MVP in 1974-75. Schaab shares the record for career goals for the Knights with Eddy Bruneteau with 98. He ranks third in games and assists and second in scoring with 240 points. He helped the team win the 1973 playoff title and skate into the playoff semifinals the final two years. Schaab scored the team's final goal in its final game April 19, 1975.
Johnny Wilson - Player - Inducted February 3, 2006
As a rookie pro, he scored 41 goals and had 39 assists for the United States Hockey League champion Omaha Knights in 1949-50. He went on to an NHL career in which he played in a then-record 580 consecutive regular season games. His NHL career included stays with Detroit, Chicago and Toronto, scoring 161 goals and 171 assists. He played on four Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Red Wings. Wilson later coached in the NHL seven seasons for four teams.
Motto McLean Service to Hockey Award
Presented to individuals who have made a significant contribution through service to the hockey community.
LaVerle Bails 2008
Joe Cupich 2003
Bert Duffy 2003
Don Leahy 2007
Margie Lowndes 2008
John Maun 2005
Dave Murphy 2015
Walt Johnson 2015
Jim Regan 2009
Bev Sanders 2010
Jerry Sanders 2010
Jim Semerad 2005
Shawn Spencer 2009
Bill Swarbrick 2011
George Swarbrick 2011
Omaha Hockey History
While Omaha today can boast of a thriving junior hockey team that plays to sellout crowds, and an NCAA Division I program that ranks among the top five in attendance, the roots can be traced to before many of today's fans were born – to 1939, to be exact.
The first hockey team in the city came that year, when the minor league professional Omaha Knights were formed as a farm club of the Detroit Red Wings. The fierce, fast tempo of the sport immediately appealed to the fans and the Knights played to sellout crowds of 6,000 at the old Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum. Except for a three-year hiatus because of World War II, the Knights continued to be Omaha's top sports attraction into the early 1950s.
Many of those original Knights made their permanent homes here and started the youth hockey programs that established the foundation for the sport's growth.
When the minor leagues blossomed again in the 1960s, Omaha was again at the hockey forefront, until, finally, the Knights' franchise was moved in 1975. But the flame remained, and in 1986, the Omaha Lancers picked up the torch and rekindled hockey interest.
The Lancers have been one of the attendance leaders in the United States Hockey League since then and have repaid their loyal fans with league championships and countless nights of entertainment while developing players for college and the professional ranks.
In 1996, the University of Nebraska at Omaha launched its Division I hockey program and hungry fans gobbled up 6,400 season tickets in just 10 days. The Mavericks have earned three NCAA Tournament trips and have produced several National Hockey League players.
The list of players and coaches who have contributed to Omaha's rich hockey heritage are impressive. Gordie Howe was a 17-year-old rookie pro in Omaha in 1945-46; Terry Sawchuk was just 18 when he turned pro with Omaha; Marcel Pronovost skated through Omaha on his way to the Hall of Fame. Scotty Bowman's first pro coaching job was in Omaha and Fred Shero won league and playoff titles here before doing the same with the Philadelphia Flyers.
But the real heroes of Omaha hockey were people like Motto McLean, Jake Forbes, Jimmy Jamieson, Sam Lavitt, Eddy Bruneteau, Sandy Ross and others. These former players are the reason hockey continues to thrive in Omaha more than 75 years later.
Omaha Hockey Timeline
Detroit Red Wings establish an American Hockey Association farm team in Omaha. First game is played, November 15, 1939
AHA ceases to operate because of World War II.
United States Hockey League is formed. Omaha is a farm club of the Red Wings.
USHL ceases to operate.
Two regular season AHL games are played between Cleveland and Providence.
Chicago Blackhawks play Detroit and Montreal in regular season games at Ak-Sar-Ben.
Chicago and New York Rangers play a regular season NHL game at Ak-Sar-Ben.
Omaha becomes a member of the International Hockey League.
Omaha is a charter member of the Central Professional Hockey League as a Montreal farm team.
Montreal moves team to Houston; Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum is renovated.
New York Rangers move St. Paul franchise to Omaha.
Atlanta Flames take over Omaha franchise.
Flames move Omaha Knights franchise to Tulsa.
Omaha Lancers begin play in Junior A United States Hockey League at Hitchcock Arena.
Lancers play first game at Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum in December.
Lancers move all home games to Ak-Sar-Ben.
University of Nebraska at Omaha begins play as an NCAA Division I program with home games at Omaha Civic Auditorium. First game is played on October 17
Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame is revived. Ted Baer, Eddy Bruneteau, Motto McLean and Jake Forbes are the inductees, joining Gordie Howe.
Lancers play their final game at Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum and move team to Council Bluffs, Iowa. The team is renamed the River City Lancers for two seasons.
UNO moves its home games from the Civic Auditorium to the new Qwest Center.
Calgary Flames move their American Hockey League franchise to Omaha, naming the team the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights and play their home games at Civic Auditorium.
Calgary moves the Omaha AHL franchise to the Quad Cities. The Knights play their final game in April, 2007.
The Lancers move their home games from the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs to the Omaha Civic Auditorium.
The Lancers move their games to the new Ralston Arena.
The Omaha Lancers and UNO play their first outdoor hockey games at TD Ameritrade Park in February. Omaha defeats Lincoln and North Dakota downs UNO.
University of Nebraska at Omaha begins play in its new on-campus venue, the Baxter Arena.