Putting a “C” on a sophomore’s sweater, as Colorado College did for the first time in program history with Grant Cruikshank, may sound odd to outsiders. But Alex Berardinelli shrugged off any notion of surprise.
“Not at all. Grant is A-plus captain material,” Berardinelli said.
Cruikshank himself was a bit surprised, but mostly, “honored and humbled.”
There wasn’t one memorable moment for the coaching staff - all year, the freshman had worked hard, contributed consistently and conducted himself well.
They staff talked to departing and returning players. Cruikshank, though young, had widespread respect.
They announced in a meeting - amid chirps from teammates - that Cruikshank and Berardinelli, a senior, would be co-captains, and Nick Halloran, Chris Wilkie and Zach Berzolla would be alternate captains.
“That’s why we have a bigger group, to help him,” coach Mike Haviland said, adding that a large leadership group distributes the pressure. “ We have a lot of different personalities there.
“I know it’s the first time in program history, but it’s everything that we want our captain to stand for.”
The timing was surprising, but the “C” follows a pattern. Cruikshank captained the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals under-16 team and the British Columbia Hockey League’s Penticton Vees in his second year with each team. Being good in the locker room is something he values.
Returning after injuring his shoulder and missing most of a CC season, Berardinelli became known for his candor with his teammates. He “opened a lot of people’s eyes,” according to Haviland.
“I’m glad they have confidence in me,” Berardinelli said. “It gives me a lot of ability to go out there any play my game.”
The alternate captains are known to bring levity to the locker room, but not afraid to mix it up. The co-captains, by several accounts, are the serious ones.
Haviland has an appreciation for serious captains, as he spent a lot of time around Jonathan Toews - nicknamed “Captain Serious” - while working for the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Guys gravitate toward people who work, and they can guilt you into working too,” Haviland said.
Teams may take on the characteristics of their leaders, but according to the youngest captain ever on a team founded in 1938, the responsibility is shared.
“It doesn’t matter who’s got what on their sweater. We need to do it as a team and a group,” Cruikshank said.
Senior Cole Josefchak will not suit up for the Tigers this year, but will play an active role with the team. The 6-foot-3 defenseman (1 goal, 2 assists, all as a freshman) appeared in CC’s first five games last season and missed the rest due to injury. Haviland said that prompted the biochemistry major to “make some tough decisions.” “Sad, but he’s got a bright, bright future,” the coach added. Josefchak could follow in the footsteps of defenseman Nate Kwiecinski, who stepped away from the ice and focused on school in 2018, but remained involved and even took part in a ceremony for graduating seniors. … Haviland got a look at all three goaltender hopefuls on Tuesday - the backup, the transfer and the freshman. Jon Flakne, Ryan Ruck and Matt Vernon are in contention for the starting job, and will share the net through the preseason. All three looked “really good,” Haviland said.