If you think you had a hectic summer, check out what Brian Kaufman has been up to since May 31.
That's the day Kaufman took over the Omaha Lancers, one of the United States Hockey League's premier franchises.
As an assistant to Mike Aikens — who coached Kaufman for three years in junior hockey — Kaufman quickly learned the pressure that comes with piloting the Lancers.
Omaha didn't make the playoffs for the first time in more than two decades, and Aikens and the club parted ways. Kaufman coached the Lancers for the final two games.
After a search that took close to two months, Lancers President Ben Robert tabbed Kaufman as the next coach and general manager of his team.
At 29, Kaufman had earned a lane on the hockey coaching fast track.
Two other major life events, planned before his hiring, took place during Kaufman's busy summer. In August, he married former UNO volleyball player Chelsea Miller, then they moved into their first home.
“It's been a whirlwind summer,” Kaufman said. “Getting married, moving into a house, first time as a head coach and GM, it's been a learning experience every day. I wake up knowing I'm going to encounter something I've never faced before.”
Some of the challenges Kaufman has faced: running a tryout camp less than two weeks after getting the job, hiring a coaching staff, moving into a new office and building a team that will open its season at 7:05 p.m. Friday against the Fargo Force at Ralston Arena.
Former Miami (Ohio) teammate Chris Michael and former University of Nebraska at Omaha goalie John Faulkner are Kaufman's assistants.
Michael has been coaching the Chicago Mission midget organization the last six years, and the two former RedHawks have remained in touch.
“The biggest thing we wanted to do right away was to establish leaders on our team and the culture we wanted to create,” Kaufman said. “Bringing in Chris from the same background and culture as me was paramount to us. John fit in perfectly with that, and he also specializes in goaltending.”
Kaufman said both assistants likely will spend about 30 percent of their time on the road, but will be with the team the majority of the time. There won't be any situations like last year, where at times only Aikens or Kaufman were on the bench for games.
The Lancers return 11 players who were on the 2012-13 roster. Defenseman Tucker Poolman has been named team captain, while Gage Hough, Tyler Hynes and Jake Randolph were selected as assistant captains.
While the Lancers have more returning players than a year ago, Kaufman said it's as important to have the proper people back.
“It's more important to have the right guys than the amount, and I think we have both,” Kaufman said. “You could have two returners, and as long as they're the right guys and unbelievable leaders, you'd be fine.”
The team motto is a simple one that Kaufman said was accomplished during preseason camp — Get Better Every Day.
“Whether that's as a human being improving his character, being involved in the community, that's all encompassing,” Kaufman said. “We have high expectations of our players to be good people, students and athletes. We will hold them accountable to do that.”
The Lancers were 2-0-2 in the preseason, coming back from two deficits. Facing and overcoming game-time adversity has been a pleasant development, Kaufman said.
“Our resolve as a group has been very good,” he said. “Our energy level is good, we've had leaders emerge through this short preseason. I think we're a very skilled team.
“Maybe not the most skilled team in the league, but we have enough for sure where it will be exciting to see where we can go.”