Augustana names new hockey captains
Augustana Vikings goalie Curtis Skip stops NAIT Ooks Jarid Hauptman during ACAC action in Camrose on Friday. NAIT won 3-2 in double OT. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
The University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings hockey team will have two new players leading the charge this season.
Patrick Thompson-Gale and Evan Warmington will be co-captains as they look to get back to the ACAC championship.
Both will be looking for a better showing than what the club put forward during the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Men’s Hockey opening weekend. The Vikings lost 3-2 in double overtime to the NAIT Ooks on Friday at Encana Arena, and then lost 5-1 to the hated Ooks in Edmonton on Saturday.
The Friday loss in particular was a painful one, considering the history between the two teams and a 2-0 lead that slipped away.
“We let them back in the game when good teams will put them away, like make it 3-0 instead of 2-1, we’ve got to get that killer instinct,” said Thompson-Gale.
Thompson-Gale is in his fourth year with the Vikings and will graduate at the end of the season. He scored 21 points in 28 games last year for Augustana, but was selected to wear a ‘C’ for more than his scoring exploits.
“Pat’s a veteran guy here, a four-year guy for us, he’s a real true leader for us,” said head coach Blaine Gusdal. “He’s a rock, very solid character and real quiet guy who leads by example. When he has something to say guys listen.”
Thompson-Gale says he has learned much from previous Vikings captains and on other teams.
“It’s a pretty big honour … I’ve seen a lot of pretty good guys wear the ‘C’ before me and I’ve seen how to do it properly,” he said, adding this will be his final year at the school and will graduate with a business management in economics degree though he is not sure what he will do with it yet.
“I knew over the summer talking to Gusdal, so I was ready for it.”
Warmington had 18 points in 24 games last season, his second with Augustana. He was also identified early by Gusdal to wear a ‘C’, as he has been one of the hardest working Vikings since he arrived on campus 25 months ago.
“He’s worn the ‘C’ many places he’s been before, and those are the kinds of guys we’re going to lean on,” said Gusdal, noting Dylan McCombie and Brett Ponich are the assistant captains for the Vikings this year.
“We’ve got so many guys who have worn letters at other levels, and in net we have three goaltenders who are real leaders that we’re going to lean on.”
Warmington says it is an honour to be given this responsibility.
“It’s pretty special, there’s a long history with this program and a lot of great captains that have come through, what I want to do is lead by example and show the guys and be an active voice in the room,” said Warmington. “It means a lot for the coach to trust me in my leadership and my play.”
Both will be key in setting the tone in rebounding from a disappointing opening two games for the Vikings. In the opener on Friday, they blew a two-goal lead in the second period and then had the game slip away in the fifth period on a penalty kill. Travis Mayan and Mitch McMullin scored for Augustana while Curtis Skip made 46 saves in the loss.
“We just got off our game plan for a little while and then got tentative,” said Gusdal. “NAIT was engaging, they had to, they were down two goals so they were engaging their defencemen on the rush and they were able to do that as a result of our turnovers at the offensive blue line.”
In the return game in Edmonton the next night, they were overwhelmed, trailing 4-0 in the third period before freshman defenceman Joe Tambasco finally scored with 8:18 left in the game. Skip was once again shelled, stopping 46 of 51 shots in the contest.
They were short five key players entering the weekend — Lucas Biensh, Logan Sproule, Ryan Groom, Harry Fredeman, and Ponich — but nothing long term as most should return soon. Groom made his Vikings debut in Saturday’s loss.
The Vikings will be looking for a better effort this weekend against the Red Deer College Kings, playing in Penhold on Friday and then hosting on Saturday at 6 p.m.
“(Recovering players) are guys who are going to add big things and have a big impact,” said Gusdal. “We had guys filling in for them and playing really well … but I think it’s that team mojo where guys maybe feel a little more comfortable when a Brett Ponich or a Lucas Biensch are in the lineup. They’re really going to help us.”