Lakers name their leaders

September 26, 2015

Lake Superior State University Lakers head coach Damon Whitten has confirmed his on-ice leaders for the 2015-2016 Western Collegiate Hockey Association season.

Three seniors will wear letters for the Lakers with Austin McKay being named captain and Bryce Schmitt and Eric Drapluk being tabbed as assistant captains.

McKay, a Toronto native, registered a career-high five goals last season while playing in a career-high 35 games. He was named a WCHA scholar athlete for achieving a 3.50 grade-point average for the second straight season.

“It means a great deal to me,” McKay said of receiving the captain’s C. “It’s especially an honor with how much tradition our great program has and all the great players that have played here. It’s such a surreal feeling and a big responsibility that I take seriously.”

Whitten noted the presence that McKay has in the locker room.

“Austin has the respect of the team and the command of the room. His passion for the game and for Laker hockey is without parallel,” said Whitten. “We know as a staff that Austin will say and do the right things at all times and will be a great extension of the coaching staff in the dressing room.”

Schmitt, a fourth-year forward from Minot, N.D., has seen his production steadily climb over the last three seasons. Last season, Schmitt finished second on the team in goals and points after collecting career highs of 7 goals, 8 assists, 15 points.

“A goal for me as a captain is to lead this team by example,” said Schmitt. “I may not be a guy who comes up with a pre-game pep talk but I plan on doing the right things day in and day out to help this team succeed.”

Schmitt returns with the third-most career points among active Lakers with 17-15-32 totals. His 17 career goals tie him with junior Alex Globke for the team’s highest active career total.

“Bryce is a guy you love to coach,” Whitten said. “He never requires additional attention for outside matters. He shows up every day and brings a high compete level to the ice. He demands teammates to match his work ethic and commitment on a daily basis. With those attributes he will lead by example and aid our team in being prepared to play every day.”

The Lakers expect McKay and Schmitt to set lasting examples of hard work and dedication on a young crop of forwards.

As for Drapluk, he earned the role of assistant captain last season and will continue to hold that status this season. The senior from Pembroke Pines, Fla. will continue to be counted on to support a young defensive corps.

Drapluk led Laker blue liners in scoring last season with 3 goals, 8 assists, 11 points and was named the team’s most valuable defenseman.

“I am honoured to be recognized as a leader and a captain by my teammates and the coaching staff,” Drapluk said of his second tour of duty as an assistant captain. “We are very excited to get to work and strive to be one of the top teams in the nation.”

Drapluk leads by example, according to Whitten.

“Eric’s leadership style tends to be more of a lead by example approach, but he also has a great ability to know when he needs to speak up and make his voice heard,” praised Whitten.

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