Succeeding on and off the ice are just a few of the goals for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ leadership team.
The five-player team is made up of Jordan Sandhu, captain, Quinn Syrydiuk and Tristan Bukovec, alternate captains and Paul Savage and Malik Kaila, rotating alternate captains.
Juggling school, community involvement and a full hockey schedule, the players on the leadership team not only aspire to win the B.C. Hockey League championship but also aim to work hard and continue with post-secondary education.
The four alternating captains are enrolled in classes at North Island College or online upgrading and Sandhu will begin his second semester at Alberni District Secondary School shortly.
In addition to school, hockey practices, training and games, the boys visit various elementary schools in the district two days a week to engage with the students and help them read.
“We have to balance a lot,” said Syrydiuk, who is studying anthropology.
This is Syrydiuk’s second season with the Bulldogs.
“It’s an honour to be assistant captain,” he said. “It’s good that the guys look at us as the leaders and we can lead on and off the ice.
“Being in this role before I know what to expect and through our leadership group last year.”
Syrydiuk, 20, said the role of the alternate captains is to support the captain and set a good example for the rest of the team.
“We kind of keep everyone in line and we’re the voices for the coaches, and players’ connection to the coaches,” he said.
The rotating alternate captains share the position between home and away games.
“I wear an ‘A’ on the white jerseys and Malik has it on the black jerseys,” Savage said.
“It’s cool to be looked up to by some of the younger guys and be there as a voice for some of the younger guys.”
Even though the rotating alternate captains only wear the “A” during home or away games, the players said they remain in a leadership role no matter where they’re playing and don’t treat the games any differently.
“We have a good group of guys and everybody gets along so we don’t really have too many problems,” Kaila said.
Sandhu, the team captain, agrees with his teammates that being in a leadership role is an honour and the 17-year-old is grateful to have the support from his four alternate captains.
“You look at a guy like Quinn [Syrydiuk] who is 20 years old…he’s got a lot of experience. I look to him to guide me. [Tristan] is probably the hardest working guy on the ice. He’s always there for the guys to talk to,” Sandhu said.
“Malik was captain of the Merritt Centennials last year. I think between the five of us we have a good leadership group.”
“Everyone on the team is a leader; everyone brings their own type of leadership to the team. Having five guys, it’s a different perspective.”
Sharing the goal of the rest of the team, Sandhu hopes to help lead the ‘Dogs to a league championship.
“For an individual, my goal coming in was to help this team get as far as they can. The guys we have in the locker room, everyone’s on the same page and we want to get to the end.
“It’s not just my goal to win a championship, it’s everyone’s goal,” Sandhu said.
The leadership team is ultimately picked by head coach, Kevin Willison and assistant coach, Alex Evin, but all the players provide suggestions on who they think would best fit the positions.
“We get the players’ input because they know what’s going on in the locker room,” Willison said.
Willison believes this year’s leadership team is made up of five very mature players who all support and help each other succeed.
“Obviously there’s a lot of weight added to Jordan’s jersey but at the end of the day with the guys that surround him he’s going to do a good job and learn a lot,” Willison said.