SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich.- Lake Superior State hockey head coach Damon Whitten has announced the captains for the 51st season of Laker hockey. The captaincy group will be led by senior forward Gus Correale, the lone senior on the Lakers' roster this season.
"It's a unique honor to captain Laker hockey in a year where we celebrate the last 50 years of our program," said Whitten. "LSSU has a storied history with many tremendous leaders over that time and we are proud to name Gus [Correale] as the captain for the 2016-17 season."
Correale is the last remaining member from the 2013-14 freshman crop. A 5-10 forward from Prince George, B.C., Correale has been a staple on Whitten's penalty killing units during the previous two seasons and is often matched up against the opposing teams' top lines due to his relentless back-checking and keen defensive awareness.
As a junior in 2015-16, Correale ranked fifth in scoring for LSSU with five goals and eight assists. He was also named the team's most improved player following the 2014-15 season and has 11-16--27 in 108 career games.
"Gus has the ability and willingness to lead this year's team, both by example and with a strong voice in the locker room," said Whitten. "He possesses a tremendous work ethic and has the respect of his teammates which will allow him to steer our ship this season. We're appreciative of Gus' dedication to Laker hockey and are expecting a great season from him."
Having never missed a game in his collegiate career, Wright delivers dependability and leadership to the Lakers' blue line- a unit that hopes to be among the best the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) has to offer this season. Whitten also lauds Wright's success in the classroom as one of nine Lakers to earn WCHA Scholar Athlete accolades in 2015-16, for achieving a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
"He's a great example of how we want our team to carry themselves as student-athletes at LSSU and will lead by example. He's a strong extension of our coaching staff into the locker room and has played a lot of quality minutes for our team."
A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Wright was a late pick up by Whitten and staff prior to the 2014-15 season and quickly developed into a top pairing defenseman, often alongside two-time assistant captain Eric Drapluk during his first two seasons. Since donning the anchor for the first time as a freshman against a formidable Michigan Tech squad in the season opener, Wright has not been taken out of the lineup and has contributed two goals and seven assists in 79 games.
"Aidan is one of those special players that coaches love in their program. We know that he will do the right thing on and off the ice in all situations."
Another junior defenseman that was thrust directly into an everyday role as a freshman in 2014-15, Renz has become a vocal leader in the locker room and productive player on the ice. Though hobbled by injuries last season, the native of Castlegar, B.C., produced the team's top plus-minus rating on the season and was a +2 in back-to-back wins over rivals Northern Michigan and Michigan State.
"Ryan is a steadying voice in our locker room and a guy our players turn to for many reasons. He has a great ability and timing to know when his voice is needed in the locker room."
Renz refined his leadership qualities by serving as team captain for the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) during a run at the Royal Bank Cup in his final season of juniors.
As a freshman last year Nenadal quickly became a fan favorite for his bone-crushing hits and a never-quit attitude that encompasses his workman-like approach to the game. A testament to the appreciation bestowed upon him by LSSU fans, the Soo Blue Liners awarded Nenadal with the 2016 Blue Liners Award at the annual team banquet as the fan favorite for his on and off ice behavior.
The Brecksville, Ohio native was also a two-time captain during his junior playing days with the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League (USHL).
"Josh makes Laker hockey better every day," noted Whitten. "He never takes a day off or a shift off."
"What our fans see on the weekends with Josh's energy and compete level, we see every day. Those attributes elevate our program and give Josh a prominent role as a leader. He also brings a strong vocal presence to our team and has the ability to motivate his teammates when needed and to hold guys accountable."
We're looking forward to an exciting season of Laker hockey led in part by this year's captains. We're proud to celebrate the last 50 years of Laker hockey with this team as we look to 'Return to Glory'."
The Lakers open play on Oct. 2 with an exhibition game against Laurentian University at 5 p.m. inside Taffy Abel Arena. The following weekend the team will hold the annual Blue vs. Gold scrimmage game and the culmination of the 50th anniversary of Laker hockey will culminate Oct. 14-15 during Great Lake State Weekend as the Lakers host in-state rivals Michigan State.
Season tickets for all 17 home games are now available online through lssutickets.universitytickets.com or at the Norris Center Guest Services Desk during summer hours. LSSU faculty/staff and retirees must pick up tickets at the Norris Center. Returning season ticket holders have until Sept. 9 to reclaim their seats.
Adult season packages are $199 and include the first round of the WCHA playoff games, of the Lakers are to host a first round series. Child season tickets are $95 and also include the potential playoff series. The Snowbird package includes the Lakers' first nine home games for $90. Single-game tickets will again be $12 for adults and $6 for children 17 and under. LSSU is also introducing a new senior citizen single-game ticket rate of $10 for seniors 60 and over.