Lincoln Stars General Manager and Head Coach Chris Michael announced Tuesday the team has added forwards Cross Hanas, Jack O’Brien, James Stefan and defensemen Clay Hanus, Charles-Alexis Legault and Michael Mastrodomenico.
"What these moves do is give us more depth up front and on the backend," Michael said. "If you look at the history of this league and the teams that have had success, depth at all positions is the common theme. Yesterday was Day One with the new faces, but credit to the guys that have been here. They elevated their game. When you make moves, that’s what you’re trying to do. Not only to bring in some fresh faces and new energy into your lineup and culture, but you’re trying elevating those that are here.
I absolutely loved what I saw in practice, not only from our new guys but our guys that have been here since Day One. They were adults about it, they understand what we’re trying to do. They’re excited; they felt that our team got better, as well. They went out and competed and had a great day on the ice yesterday."
Hanas, 18, broke out for 22 goals (three game-winners) and 27 assists in 60 games last year with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He finished third on the team in goals and sixth on the team in points. The Highland Village, TX-born winger has appeared in 127 WHL games, amassing 71 points. He was selected in the second round (55th overall) by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
O’Brien, 17, scored 14 goals and added 16 assists in 55 games last year while playing for Portland. The Denver, CO native posted 86 points in 62 games in 2018-19 with the Little Caesars program.
Stefan, 17, lit the lamp five times with four assists in 49 games in 2019-20 with the Winterhawks. A native of Laguna Beach, CA, Stefan also played for Little Caesars in 2018-19, registering 95 points. He is the son of former NHLer Patrik Stefan, who played over 400 games in the NHL from 1999-2007.
Hanus, 19, has spent three seasons in the WHL in Portland, compiling 60 points (18 goals, 42 assists) in 183 games. The left-handed defenseman hails from Excelsior, MN. He ranked second in points (27) among Winterhawk blueliners last season.
"These guys will go through an adjustment period as they enter a new league and get back into a rhythm of playing games for the first time in nine-plus months," Michael added. "The WHL is more of a controlled game; the USHL is high-paced and chaotic at times. But they’re elite, elite players, and I think they’ll adjust pretty quickly and fit in nicely.
And most importantly, all four kids are big-time people and that is what attracted us the most when we decided to go forward with this process. Getting to know all four of them, we knew we were bringing the right people into our culture."
Legault, 17, suited up for two games last season for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, but played a majority of the year in the QMAAA with the Lac St-Louis Lions. As captain, the right-handed defenseman was almost a point-per-game player (28 points in 29 appearances). At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Legault is committed to Boston University, the same place his father Alexandre played in 1989-91.
Mastrodomenico, 16, is committed to the University of Notre Dame and is projected to join the Fighting Irish in 2022-23. The 6-foot-2, 187-pound defenseman last played for Laval-Montréal Rousseau Royal in the QMAAA, putting up 17 points in 42 games. He is a native of Kirkland, QC.
"They can really skate and have good puck skills," Michael continued. "They get the puck to their hip and their eyes up the rink and they understand how to make a first efficient pass and join the rush. It’s not a secret that our d-core took a hit with the loss of [Jake Boltmann] going to Notre Dame and [Luke Mittelstadt] going back to high school. It was something we’ve been looking to shore up for a few weeks since we found that out. But we’re excited.
We have some young blood coming in, guys that are enthusiastic and hungry. Then you have another guy who has been a big-time player in the WHL for the past few seasons, so we are extremely excited and feel that our backend got better, which will help our overall game both five-on-five and on special teams.”
The Stars have also announced they have acquired a fifth-round pick in the 2021 Phase II USHL Draft from the Youngstown Phantoms in exchange for forward Winter Wallace.