"I think whenever you have a vote come out the way it did, it just shows what a leader Dalts is,” Russo said. "His presence in the locker room on the ice, the way he handles himself with his play and in the community, it was a no-brainer decision for our coaching staff for him to wear the ‘C.' His teammates respect and appreciate what he brings and they were able to see the same things we saw.”
Thompson, 19, put up 33 points in his first full USHL season with Lincoln in 2020-21. Despite the new letter on his jersey moving forward in his second year, the Fort Collins, CO will look to lead in a similar fashion.
"I was very appreciative of my teammates,” Thompson said. "It’s a big role. I’m going to try and help the guys both on and off the ice as much as I can. Having the “A” on my jersey, I’ll act the same, it’s just a great recognition from teammates. It means a lot from them.”
Thompson’s hungriness to take on a larger role began this past summer.
"Aidan told me right away that he wanted to be a leader and he made it a point to take that very seriously," Russo explained. "He’s been a great influence on the younger guys, he’s very mature. Obviously, his experience both in a Lincoln Stars jersey and as a veteran USHL player will be a big help for us. He leads by example at times and picks the right moments to speak and when he does, the guys are very receptive.
Lemay, 19, has yet to play a USHL game, but he has certainly proved his worth since being selected 160th overall by Lincoln in the 2020 USHL Entry Draft. The Canadian-born defenseman shined in a brief tenure with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL) last season, potting 10 assists in 15 games.
"I was pretty happy, but that won’t change anything I’ve been doing with the boys so far,” Lemay said. "We’ve been having a lot of fun together. We are going to be a team that wants to come to the rink every day and get to work."
The eyes around the future UNO Maverick increased further following his fourth-round selection in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals. Lincoln’s coaching staff believes it’s well-deserved.
"Jo is such a workhorse," Russo elaborated. "He’s always hungry to learn and do the extra stuff. He’s a student of the game and his passion for becoming a great player shows in the way he approaches things every day. I think his teammates see him as a guy they want to model their game and work ethic after.”
Every player on Lincoln's roster will have the chance to embody a similar mentality in the 2021-22 season.
"I think you win with culture,” Russo said. "You need great players but more importantly, you need great people. Our ability to have leaders amongst leaders is what’s important to our success. When our guys make our culture come to life and hold each other accountable, you don’t have to be a captain in order to be a leader.”
Norris, Thompson and Lemay will sport their new letters for the first time when Lincoln opens the regular season in Cranberry Township, PA on Thursday night against the Youngstown Phantoms. However, a larger (and shinier) goal looms in the minds of the leadership core.
"I think all three of us are going to work really well together and lead our team to the Clark Cup," Thompson said.