Friday, September 20, 2013

Guess the Captains

I thought this might be a good topic to blog about since we are getting very close to the start of the 2013-14 USHL regular season.  As I mentioned in the previous article, the 2013-14 season begins tonight (9/20), but the Stars do not play their first regular season game until Friday, September 27th at the IceBox against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.

Since we now have a good idea on which players will be in the lineup on opening night, I figured I'd throw this article together to see what the fans think in regards to the captains next season.  In the past, Chad Johnson let the players vote on captains, but Jimmy McGroarty is the big chief once again and I'm not sure how he does it.  When he was head coach a few years ago, I thought I remember reading that he picked the captains.  I'm not 100% sure about that.

Last year, the Stars had two captains (Dominick Shine, Mike McKee) and two alternate captains (Will Suter, Paul Ladue).  One captain at forward, and one captain on defense (same with the alternate captains).  I assume the Stars will do that same thing this next season, but there's a chance they could go back to the more traditional system of one captain, and two alternate captains.

Returning "vets" from last season are:

D - Zach Frye
D - Zack Pittman
D - Daniel Willett
F - Max Humitz
F - David Parrottino

I am not including goaltender Michael Bitzer here because goaltenders are not allowed to be named captain, or alternate captain in the USHL.

This is certainly not a news flash, but compared to last season, the Stars do not return a lot of depth.  At this time last season, the Stars were returning 11 players with a lot of USHL experience.  This year, there are a LOT of new faces.  So because of that, I believe there is a very good chance this season that a first-year player will be given a letter to wear on his jersey.

Because of so many new players, maybe the smart thing would be to rotate some of the captains and alternate captains early on.  With so many new faces, maybe you distribute the wealth, so to speak, and allow a number of players the opportunity to wear a letter.  Having said that, wearing a letter is not the be all, end all.  As a friend told me today, "You don't need to wear a letter to be a leader."

So looking at the returning players from last season, who would you guess is given the captain, and alternate captain titles?  Pick two captains, and two alternate captains.  You can leave your guesses in the comment section below.  I'd also appreciate if you'd comment as to why you think your guesses are deserving.

Here are my guesses:

Captain:  Zach Frye
Far and away, Zach has played the most games (107) in a Stars uniform than any current player on Lincoln's protected roster.  This will be Zach's fourth season in Lincoln, so he is very well known to the fans.  I think most think of his style of play as being a physical, shutdown d-man, but I think his offensive game is a bit underrated.  Hoping to see him more on Lincoln's PP this upcoming season.  Like Mike McKee last season, Frye is definitely more valuable on the ice than he is sitting in the penalty box.

Captain:  John Simonson
He may not have any USHL experience, but John Simonson is a veteran of junior hockey, having played 120+ games with the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).  John is considered an "overager" in the eyes of the USHL because he was born in 1993.  Each USHL team can roster a maximum of four overagers each season, so automatically Simonson will take on a leadership role on this team because of his age and experience.

Alternate Captain:  Zack Pittman
Although he is still very young, Pittman is a grizzled vet on Lincoln's blueline after playing 56 regular season games in 2012-13.  Going into last season, Pittman was a unknown to most fans.  I'm not sure most expected him to play so many minutes as a '95, but Pittman eased into his role as a shutdown d-man and played it very, very well.  Considering his position is very hard for a young rookie in the USHL, his +24 rating in 56 games was exceptional.  I'm a big fan of this kid, and hope to see him wearing a letter this season.

Alternate Captain:  Christian Lampasso
When the Stars made the trade with Sioux City to bring in Lampasso, I have to admit I was pretty excited.  As a Stars fan, you occasionally get to see some kids come to the IceBox and play great against Lincoln.  You might catch yourself saying, "Man, I wish we had that kid on our roster."  That's Lampasso for me.  He's a bit on the small side, but he's fearless.  Great wheels, and soft hands around the net.  Although he doesn't have a ton of USHL experience, he did play 53 games last season with the Des Moines Bucs and the Sioux City Musketeers.

So those are my predictions.  Now I'd like to hear from the readers out there.  Which players are your team captains?  Please leave a comment below.  You do not need to register to leave a comment.  Thanks!

Go Stars.

1 comment:

Wade said...

I couldn't agree more with your pick of Zach Frye, he seems to be a lock for at least one of the captains--and deservedly so.
Pittman also would seem to be a logical choice given his level of play as a Star last year and the experience he brings.
After that.....wow.....it's pretty wide open. I will say that of the players I've seen during the pre-season, Lampasso has certainly stood out, his energy and hustle on the ice has been great and he seems to be a tad bit faster than the rest of the guys to me--I don't have a trained eye, so I may be wrong about that but it has sure seemed that way to me.
Just how much of a "leader" on the ice some of these new kids are and how much the rest of the team looks up to them is pretty much a guessing game for me, but it wouldn't surprise me if Hunter Anderson works his way into the captain mix as well.