Elon’s Club Ice Hockey announces the captains for the 2020-21 season after finishing their last game on Feb. 9 with a loss against UNC Chapel Hill. They end their regular season at 1-4-0 for the Carolina West Division of the ACCHL.
Forward Matt McGaffigan (‘22) will lead the team next year as Captain. Coach Paul Pechmann also appointed Goaltender Doug Connor (‘23), Forward Jack McAuliffe (‘23) and Defender Hunter Smith (‘21) as alternate captains.
Despite the loss on Sunday, McAuliffe was looking forward to next year for the team and his new leadership role.
“I’m excited,” McAuliffe said. “Just the progress we made this year and going to next year, hopefully getting a couple more guys coming in, sticking together as a team—we’re really growing together.”
Connor was also excited.
“It feels great,” Connor said. “It shows that Paul is putting trust in us to be leaders for next year and set an example.”
Reflecting back on his first season with the club this year, he had a lot of good things to say about the coaching staff and the growth of the team.
“When it comes to resources, unfortunately we’re a little understaffed, so we didn’t have a ton to work with. But what we did have, we used to the fullest extent. That’s a real hands up to the coaching staff for using what little we had. It was a good year,” he said. “The most important thing is we had fun. Everyone kind of got to know each other and make friends and connections. I think that’s what was most important about this year.”
While McAuliffe and Connor will take on their captaincy as only sophomores next year, Smith will be the only senior to hold the title. After quitting Club Ice Hockey after his first game during his first year at Elon, Smith rejoined the team again this year as a junior. At the final game, Smith said he was glad he decided to return and valued his new role as captain.
“It really meant a lot to me coming from Paul,” Smith said. “I’m so happy I made this decision and got the honor from Paul.”
The club may not have won very many games this season, but for McAuliffe and Smith, stepping out on the ice every weekend was about more than just the outcome. It was about the desire to play the sport and having heart.
“We just really came together,” Smith said. “A lot of these teams are a lot more skilled than us, but we just never stopped working. And I think that speaks to the core group we have here.”