On Monday, the University of North Dakota hockey team announced that junior defenseman Gage Ausmus was selected to be the next captain. Ausmus is the first junior to be named captain since junior defenseman Matt Smaby was named captain during the 2005-06 season.
Next season, UND will have six players wearing letters. That’s the most in UND history. The following players were named assistant captains: Drake Caggiula, Bryn Chyzyk, Colten St. Clair, Paul LaDue and Troy Stecher. (UND Sports)
Leadership by Committee
This fall, UND has a very large incoming freshman class. This is one of the reasons head coach Brad Berry gave for selecting so many assistant captains.
“Not only are they good leaders,” Berry said, “roughly 38 percent of our team will be freshmen. That’s a huge chunk of new players coming into our lineup. I really wanted to develop a mentorship program where it’s not a burden on one or two or three guys. It’s leadership by committee. They can mentor these guys on an individual or small-group basis so they can get these guys up to speed right away.”
While some UND fans might have been surprised with Ausmus being named team captain, Berry strongly endorsed his junior defenseman’s selection.
“Gage possesses all the qualities of our culture,” Berry said. “He has a strong work ethic, loyalty, respect, humility. He has that even-keelness and that work ethic that’s the backbone of our culture.”
Berry continue, “He’s a guy who had a tough freshman year here. He knew right away what he had to do to be a solid person in the lineup. When you deal with adversity, and a hockey season has adversity to it, it’s how you respond. I think he’s a great guy to lead our program.”
The local boy shared his thoughts on being selected captain of the 2015-16 UND hockey team.
“It’s an honor to be one of the captains of this team,” Ausmus said. It’s honor growing up here watching the Sioux.
Ausmus has some big shoes to fill, and I asked him if he had reached out to any previous captains after he had been selected.
“Yeah, I talked to Steph, he congratulated me right after he found out,” Ausmus said. “I learned so many things from him – last year and my freshman year when he was an assistant captain. And from Dillion Simpson. It’s nice to have those guys leading the way and showing us the style, the right way.”
List of Juniors Named UND Captain
According to the UND SID Jayson Hajdu: Previous juniors to have served as UND men’s hockey captain include (asterisk indicates co-captain): Bob Murray (1948-49), Bob Krumholz (1950-51), Ken Johannson (1951-52), John Gray (1960-61), Maurice “Sonny” Roberge (1962-63), Brian DePiero* (1970-71), Larry Drader* (1973-74), Alan Hangsleben* (1973-74), Daryl Drader* (1974-75), Bob DePiero* (1975-76), Mark Taylor* (1978-79), Rick Zombo* (1983-84), Scott Sandelin* (1984-85), Bob Joyce (1986-87), Dave Hakstol (1990-91), Greg Johnson* (1991-92), Dane Litke (1995-96), Andy Schneider (2003-04), Matt Greene (2004-05), and Matt Smaby (2005-06).
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.