Senior captain trio lead way for men’s hockey

first_imgJen SmallWith the array of upperclassmen the Wisconsin men’s hockey team has this year, which includes nine seniors, there’s certainly no shortage of experience present on the Badgers’ roster. And going hand-in-hand with that experience is leadership, which Wisconsin (3-1-1) doesn’t lack either, as 78 percent of Wisconsin’s scoring returned from last season.But considering how many veterans the Badgers have — 16 upperclassmen in all out of 26 players — the players and coaches had a tough decision in front of them when it came to voting for captains before the season began, assistant coach Gary Shuchuk said.“Just because you don’t have a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ on doesn’t mean anything. [But] you can’t give seven or eight guys letters. You’re only allowed three, so you have to pick and choose who the right guys are,” he said.But when it came down to the voting, it was hardly a tough decision for the players who nominated senior defenseman Frankie Simonelli captain and junior defenseman Jake McCabe and senior forward Jefferson Dahl assistants without any discrepancies.The three captains selected just so happened to be the three that Shuchuk had in mind, each of whom bring differing leadership traits to the table, resulting in a blend of leadership roles.“It kind of differs on every team because, based on our team, Frankie is kind of a lead-by-example kind of guy. When he speaks, guys will listen,” Shuchuk said. “He’s not the rah-rah type, but he leads by example on and off the ice, so he’s the quiet captain.“Jefferson Dahl, the assistant captain, he’s one of those guys that doesn’t say much, but he leads by example on the ice and what he does that shows – guys feed off the way he plays. Jake McCabe is one of those guys that’s more rah-rah, more vocal, one of those guys that, when he speaks, guys are going to listen. He won’t get in your face.“But it’s kind of a different make-up of captain this year. Usually you have one guy that’s hard-nosed, in your face like John Ramage was last year and guys that are kind of the rah-rah type. So it’s kind of a unique blend. They’re all unique in their own way.”Although there may be differing leadership styles among Simonelli, McCabe and Dahl, they have seen firsthand the expectations for captains at Wisconsin from those before them. For a Wisconsin program steeped in tradition with a lineage of captainship that includes Shuchuk and head coach Mike Eaves, along with recent players such as Adam Burish and Blake Geoffrion, wearing a ‘C’ on the Wisconsin sweater is nothing to be taken lightly.“There’s a standard when we first rolled in here as freshman, just the way they do everything,” Dahl said. “I remember looking back to our freshman year and the way our captains acted with us. They were very positive and able to work with us, which was nice. I just try to pass that on to the younger guys, even though we don’t have as many of them. I just try to instill the same standards that we have all had to grow to and just try to continue to grow as a team.”It’s not just Dahl who works to inculcate the values that have been passed onto him by former captains but a collaborative effort between the three captains. Hockey presents an interesting dynamic in that, instead of only one captain, there are oftentimes a head captain flanked by two assistants, distributing the duties among more than one player.But despite the fact that there is a designated head captain aided by assistants, Simonelli mentioned the term assistant doesn’t carry with it lesser meaning or duties.“We work as a group,” Simonelli said. “It’s not just me and they’re my little assistants or anything like that. We work as a group, setting the example on and off the ice, and then when things need to be done, whether it’s on the ice or off the ice, we need to step up and make sure those are getting done.”McCabe added the leadership duties aren’t just limited to the trio of captains, but are shared by many other players like seniors Mark Zengerle, Michael Mersch and Keegan Meuer.“We’re a real close knit team and it just goes to show that there’s so many leaders on this team,” McCabe said. “Because it’s a form of leadership, you’ve got guys that play different roles. You’ve got goal scorers that are consistent game-in and game-out, so here it’s a leadership by committee.”It didn’t take long for the captains and leadership of this year’s Wisconsin team to get tested, as it faced a fair amount of adversity when the Badgers traveled to Boston in their second series of the year only to get thumped by Boston College and Boston University 9-2 and 7-3, respectively. The three captains took it in stride and met with Eaves the Monday following the series to discuss ways to remedy the situation and improve going forward.And behind the leadership of the captains and their different roles, the Badgers rebounded from their first taste of adversity this season to take their next series from Lake Superior State, nearly two weekends ago.“When something needs to be said, I think me and Frank both do a pretty good job of that,” McCabe said. “Jefferson is always Mr. Steady out there. He’s always the most consistent player on the ice, game-in and game-out, so that’s what you expect from him.”At first glance, Simonelli, McCabe and Dahl may not seem like the prototypical captains, but they earned the right to represent their teammates and have already past their first adversity test of the season. Now it will be seen if the three can lead their teammates and programs to even higher heights.“Usually the captain is someone that you respect, guys respect in the locker room, on and off the ice – when he says something, you’re going to listen,” Shuchuck said. “Frankie was that guy. He’s that guy that when he says something when he has to say something, guys will step up and do it. I don’t think he’s afraid to get in guys faces and tell them they’re making mistakes. He’s also the kind of guy that will give a guy a pat on the back and say, ‘Hey, you’re doing a good job. Keep your head up.’ They’re all the right guys.”last_img read more