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Leading in unprecedented times: How UMD’s captains have stepped up

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Duluth, Minn. -- To say that this has been a "different" start to a college hockey season for junior captain Noah Cates would be an understatement. It was back in the Spring that the Stillwater-native took over the "C" for Nick Wolff and Hunter Shepard. It's now about eight months later, and Noah and company have yet to see a game.

So what is it like to have to lead the charge in unprecedented times? Because of COVID health and safety restrictions, players have to dress away from the arena. The only time they really see one another altogether is on the ice.

"It's a huge part of any team and kind of building a championship team. Like I saw my freshman year, how close we were and how big that was in playing to our success. In the Pod we're hoping to be together more. Play some cards, have that bus trip, that time in the hotel, the little stories, just kind of having fun. Being able to be around each other so. We're looking forward to that but there has definitely been those challenges."

Noah says it's been a challenge to navigate at times, saying that the team has done what they can. They've scheduled golf outings and other socially distanced outdoor activities.

"It's a huge part of any team and kind of building a championship team. Like I saw my freshman year, how close we were and how big that was in playing to our success," said Cates. "In the Pod we're hoping to be together more. Play some cards, have that bus trip, that time in the hotel, the little stories, just kind of having fun. Being able to be around each other so. We're looking forward to that but there has definitely been those challenges."

Head coach Scott Sandelin speaks to Noah and the other three captains as well as the other upperclassmen in their leadership during this time as well.

"He's such an example as a leader. I think that's one of the things that has impressed me the most since I've been here," said head coach Scott Sandelin. "Every day he comes to the rink and he has a purpose to what he's doing, he wants to get better. He's one of the last guys on the rink if he's not one of the first guys on and off. He's always doing something to make his game better. He's not told by a coach that he's gotta do this. To me as a coach and a coaching staff, that's what you love in your leaders is guys that you don't have to say a lot to and I think he's one of those guys that does that."

UMD drops the puck against Denver in the NCHC pod on December 2nd. You can watch that game on My9 Sports.

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Kelly Hinseth

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