SCHENECTADY — They still don’t know when the ship will leave port, but the Union men’s hockey team will have not one, but two captains to sail it when it does.
On Monday, head coach Rick Bennett named senior forwards Josh Kosack and Sean Harrison as co-captains for the 2020-21 season, which is still waiting for a schedule to materialize.
During parts of the rocky 2019-20 season, in which Union won just eight games, Kosack and Harrison each were assigned to be assistant captains. Then-senior Vas Kolias and goalie Darion Hanson had been named co-captains, then had that designation removed in-season.
Kosack, the most diligent shot blocker on the team, and Harrison, who was third in scoring last year among players who are back, are known for their rock-solid approach to hockey and academics and should bring a steadying presence in the locker room for a young team trying to rebound.
“I was very excited and honored,” Kosack said by phone on Tuesday morning. “The way I’m going to approach it is try to model what Cole Maier did the first two years. I don’t think you can create a better captain than he was, just how he went about his daily life, in the classroom, on the ice, in the community, the way he was as a person.”
“I don’t think much needs to change from us,” Harrison said. “If guys are going to be looking up to us, we can be more vocal, reaching out to them more.”
“Josh and Sean are ‘follow me’ types of leaders,” Bennett said in a release. “They represent Union in incredible fashion with their diligence in the classroom and work ethic on the ice. Josh and Sean have an ability to connect with everyone on the team, and are upfront and direct when they need to be. They have always demonstrated a team-first mindset that has earned the respect of their teammates and the coaching. Josh and Sean have earned this honor by making the right choices as student-athletes, and through their involvement with community service events.”
The co-captains face a different landscape than they typically would, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That put limitations on what players could do during the summer and what they can do now.
The Dutchmen began on-ice work last Tuesday, with a “pod” approach in which only four forwards and four defensemen are on the ice, at opposite ends of Messa Rink, for each practice session, which for now are no-contact and focus on individual skill development.
“There’s so much uncertainty this year, so things are going to be handled a little bit differently, especially with the rules Union has put in place,” Harrison said. “We’re trying to build camaraderie with all the limitations, so it’s a different year and we’re trying to work within the rules.”
“I think I’m a little more vocal than Cole was, from a personality standpoint, but sometimes it’s not always the easiest thing having difficult talks with guys, and Cole did a great job with that,” Kosack said.
“He’s [Harrison] probably one of the most mature players I’ve ever played with. He comes to work every day, is very good in the classroom and is probably not as loud as I am, but maybe he can calm me down sometimes. Guys really respect him and really look up to him, and he has that ability to tell guys how it is when it’s not always easy to hear. I think we’ll mesh really well together.”