Sault Ste. Marie - The Soo Greyhounds Hockey Program made a significant announcement this afternoon with the creation of the team’s Leadership Group including naming Captains and Alternates for the upcoming 2013-14 Ontario Hockey League Season.
DARNELL NURSE has been named TEAM CAPTAIN for the 2013-2014 Campaign by General Manager Kyle Dubas and Head Coach Sheldon Keefe.
"Darnell possesses all the qualities you want in a captain. His work ethic, discipline and character on the ice, in the gym and in the classroom make him a natural leader who represents precisely what we want the Soo Greyhounds to be about” began Keefe.
"He is an obvious choice by not just our staff but more importantly, his teammates."
Nurse, who is set to enter his 3rd season with the Program, is coming off a banner year where he had 12 goals and 29 assists (41 points) in the regular season. The Hamilton, ON native had his season highlighted by being named Alternate Captain at the Home Hardware Top Prospects game for Team Cherry and was voted the Hounds Scholastic Player of the Year and Player’s Player before taking home the Bobby Smith Award as the OHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year. Nurse became just the 2nd player in Hounds history to win the OHL's Scholastic Player of the Year, which is awarded annually to the student-athlete best exemplifying success in the classroom and on the ice.
“It is an honour to be named Captain on a team with so much tradition. Having the opportunity to be around a captain like Colin (Miller) last year has given me the opportunity to see exactly what the leader of a team should be. With that said, a team is made up of over 20 players and each person will lead in their own way. I am looking forward to being a part of something special this year” stated Nurse.
Joining Nurse as member's of the Leadership Group will be ANDREW FRITSCH, ALEX GUDBRANSON and TYLER GANLY, who have been named Alternate Captains. Goaltender MATT MURRAY,who cannot formally wear the alternate captain's "A" will join his teammates as part of the leadership group.
The five veteran players will be relied upon heavily by team management and coaches to guide the Program through this crucial stage in its development.
Fritsch, who joined the Hounds in August 2011, will enter his overage season with the Hounds. The Brantford, ON native will be entering his 5th season in the OHL and brings over 200 games experience to this year’s edition of the Program.
"As our most experienced player Andrew will be relied upon a lot this season and he brings a great deal of leadership to our team. He's a positive person who is motivated to make his final season his best” commented Keefe.
For Fritsch, nothing will change from his approach to the season despite being an Alternate Captain.
“It’s an honour to be named an Alternate Captain for the upcoming season and to be recognized by Kyle and the entire coaching staff and also to be wearing the A in my last season in the league is pretty special. I believe I can provide experience to the team, especially the younger players like I would with, or without the A. To know the coaches have this type of confidence in me to be a leader this year feels good”
In Gudbranson, the acquisition from he summer of 2012, will be entering his 4th season in the OHL and second with the Hounds. A native of Orleans, ON, Gudbranson is well respected by the team’s staff, players and fans. He is known for his hard work, reliable and physical play that saw him named the team’s Unsung Hero at the conclusion of 2012-13.
"Alex carries himself like a leader and our players are drawn to him. He consistently puts the team ahead of himself and is trustworthy and reliable both on and off the ice” commented Keefe.
Stated Gudbranson, “We have a young team this year, so for Darnell, Andrew, Matt, Tyler and myself it is very important to be pillars for this team in terms of leadership.”
With Ganly, the Hounds look towards the 18-year old who enters his second season on the blueline. The Milton, ON product capped off his inaugural campaign with the Hounds with 17 assists and a Corsi rating of +72 once Head Coach Sheldon Keefe took over as bench boss on December 3. With injuries and suspension early in the year on the team’s blueline, Ganly was relied upon heavily in many different situations with the club as he grew and matured at the Major Junior level.
"As a rookie last season Tyler's great development came through a positive attitude and commitment to putting in the necessary work to get better every day which earned him the confidence of the coaching staff and respect of all his teammates. Those qualities bode well for continued improvement and will be a great example for our younger players” explained Keefe.
For Ganly, he is ready and excited for the opportunity.
“After playing one season behind our past leaders of Colin, Ryan, Darnell and Brandon I feel honoured to be put into the team’s leadership. Having a young team this year, I believe leadership will be key to the team’s success and I am willing and ready to step up into this role.”
While with Murray, the Hounds completed their leadership group with the soon-to-be 4th year goaltender of the club. The Thunder Bay, ON product is coming off a season where he played in 53 regular season games and posted a career best wins (26), GAA (3.67) and SV% (.894). In the post-season Murray was superb backstopping the Hounds to a hard-fought six game series with Owen Sound where he bettered those stats.
"The longest tenured Greyhound on our roster, Matt's calm and positive demeanor allow him to remain focused both on the ice and in the classroom. As the goaltender he is the backbone of our team and serves as a great compliment to our group of captains” said Keefe.
“I’m humbled to be named to the leadership group. The four guys that will be wearing letters for us this year embody what it means to be a leader, and although I won’t be wearing a letter hope to do the same” stated Murray.
With just over two months until Training Camp 2013, which begins on Wednesday, August 28th, Hounds management and coaches will be in New Jersey for the NHL Entry Draft this weekend before readying for the CHL Import Draft on July 3rd.
"As a staff we are confident that with this leadership group along with other players that will be added as the season progresses we have great liaisons between the coaches and players and they will serve as excellent representatives of The Program" concluded the Hounds Head Coach.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)