Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Hildenbrand, Ferraro and Makar newest UMass hockey captains

Trio to take over for graduating senior Jake Horton

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

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Last week the Massachusetts hockey team announced Niko Hildenbrand, Mario Ferraro and Cale Makar will be team captains for the 2018-19 season.

Hildenbrand wrapped up his sophomore year this past season with UMass while Ferraro and Makar closed out their freshmen seasons on the Minutemen blueline in 2017-18.

“Obviously first off, it’s a huge honor,” Hildenbrand said. “To be able to lead a program that’s kind of coming from the bottom of Hockey East and having such high goals for the future and stuff, it really is an honor. To be able to do it at such a young age I think it means even more to me.”

“I mean it’s a huge honor to be recognized as a leader, on a team full of leaders,” Ferraro added. “Everybody on this team leads by example and works hard so it’s just a huge honor to be recognized as a leader on this team.”

As the fourth-youngest team in Hockey East last season, UMass is dominated by underclassmen and with a heavy dose of freshmen expected to arrive this summer, the newly appointed Minutemen leaders are among the youth movement.

Caroline O’Connor

“Having a lot of guys kind of be around the same age and everybody be familiar with what the leadership style is on the team from everybody in general is a big thing for us moving forward,” Makar said. “One of the things that I like to touch on, even though you’re identified as a leader, everybody on the team is still a leader regardless. That’s kind of the tempo and mindset that we want to set for everybody else.”

Now the front men of responsibility for UMass, the trio each touched on breaking out of their comfort zones as challenges they expect to face as captains.

“Having that title now I think it helps the other guys recognize that and lets me lead in a more vocal way I guess you could say,” Hildenbrand said. “That’s always something I’ve been trying to work on and I think now that this is kind of out there it helps with that.”

“Being more vocal and giving my teammates constructive criticism in a positive way is something I need to look to doing this year,” Ferraro said. “Especially because we’re going to have more freshmen coming in next year, they’ve got to know their role and they’ve got to be ready and they’ve got to be led into this year knowing what to expect.”

Jake Horton was this past year’s lone captain for the Minutemen after being announced midway through the season. Now in their former teammate’s shoes, the fresh-faced captains reflected back on previous leaders they looked up to, including Horton.

“I think last year the first one that comes to mind is Steven Iacobellis,” Hildenbrand said. “He was a really good leader in the fact that he always worked hard on and off the ice and that’s something I want to do and be able to have the guys in the locker room look at me and be like ‘wow, that guy works really hard.’”

Caroline O’Connor

“This year, one of the best leaders I’ve had, Jake Horton,” Ferraro said. “He’s a guy that I look up to along with the other veterans that are on our team.”

It hasn’t been determined if one will wear the “C” on game days and the other two to wear the “A,” but it shouldn’t be much of an issue as the three of them don’t seem to care about out-doing the other.

“I think we have very different but at the same time kind of similar leadership styles, and I think we’ll mesh well together. Like I touched on, we have a lot of other leaders on the team that could be recognized as well,” Makar said. “[There’s] just a lot of different guys that could be in the same position and you don’t need a letter to be a leader.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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