Gage Ausmus is one of only nine players in UND hockey history to guide his team to a national championship while wearing the "C" on his sweater
It’s that time of year again when the focus of the hockey world is squarely on two teams battling it out for king of the 200 x 85 in the Stanley Cup Finals.
This time it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins of the East trying to foil the hopes of the San Jose Sharks in the West. Typically, teams that make it this far are led by special players who wear the “C” of the captain – calm usually, fiery when needed, but always respected. This year is no exception.
Sidney “Sid the Kid” Crosby is the clubhouse leader for the Penguins, facing off against former University of Wisconsin Badger Joe Pavelski for the Sharks. Both Crosby and Pavelski have crossed paths with the University of North Dakota in recent years, with Crosby leading Team Canada to gold in the memorable 2005-06 World Junior Championships that were hosted at Ralph Englestad Arena, the home venue of UND’s hockey teams. Pavelski also visited The Ralph as a member of UND’s archrival Badgers, from 2004-2006.
Speaking of UND hockey and captains, Gage Ausmus, UND’s current men’s team captain, recently sat down with Studio One, the school’s student-produced television show, to talk about the responsibilities and traits of a good captain and what makes a winning team.
As captain, East Grand Forks native Ausmus, led this year’s UND men’s hockey squad to the school’s eighth national championship after an inspired run through the 2016 NCAA tournament, culminating in a dominating 5-1 victory over the Quinnipiac University Bobcats. With the win, Ausmus joined elite company as one of nine captains to guide national champion hockey teams at UND ( the others are Bill Steenson, Sonny Roberge, Mark Taylor, Cary Eades and Phil Sykes, Bob Joyce, Dane Litke and Peter Armbrust).
UND also is the alma mater of one of the more storied modern-day NHL captains: Jonathan Toews, who, begrudgingly goes by the nickname “Captain Serious,” due to his determined and no-nonsense style on the ice. Interestingly, Toews was not a captain in his two years at UND, but he did serve as an assistant to future NHLer Chris Porter in 2006-07.
Here are a few more fun facts about the history and tradition surrounding UND hockey captains:
There have been 78 UND student-athletes who have donned sweaters emblazoned with the “C”
Many former UND hockey captains have gone on to play in the NHL, including Taylor, Porter, Marc Chorney, Phil Sykes, Rick Zombo, Bob Joyce, Greg Johnson, Brad Bombardir, Matt Greene and Matt Smaby.
Also a good number of UND captains have parlayed their leadership skills into coaching gigs at various levels, including Eades, Bob May, John “Gino” Gasparini, Rick Wilson, Scott Sandelin, Steve Johnson, Grant Paranika, and, of course, Dave Hakstol, the current clubhouse general for the Philadelphia Flyers.
What about Bob? The most popular first name for UND captains over the years has been the hypocorism of Robert (in fact, there were two years when UND had two captains that went by “Bob” on the same team – 1950-51 and 1968-69): Bob Murray, Bob May, Bob Krumholz, Bob Munro, Bob Tuff, Bob DePiero and Bob Joyce.
There have been 12 student-athletes who have been two-time hockey captains at UND: Ken Johannson, John Gray, Sonny Roberge, Larry Drader and his brother, Daryl, Scott Marvin, Dane Litke, Chay Genoway, DePiero, Taylor, Sandelin and Hakstol.
There have been six years when UND had as many as three captains (non-assistant) on its roster: ’67, ’72,’74,’75,’78 and ’85.
UND had no captains listed in ’46, ’53, ’54 and ’55.