EDMONTON – Not often is a vote of any kind unanimous, but it was when the MacEwan Griffins men's hockey team set out to choose a new captain.
Kole Gable was everyone's choice.
So, the third-year forward will trade in the 'A' he wore last season for a 'C' in 2022-23.
He'll lead the Griffins into their home-opening weekend as they kick off the Canada West season vs. Regina on Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (3 p.m., both Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV).
"I just think he embodies what we're looking for in this program," said interim head coach Zack Dailey. "He comes to the rink every day with a great attitude, ready to get better. He treats people and his teammates with respect and in a positive way. He lifts them up and helps them out."
Then there is Gable's work ethic, which sets an example on the ice.
"He's a guy who doesn't complain about much, he just comes to practice and games every day and puts in his best effort," said Dailey, the longtime Griffins assistant who is taking over bench boss duties this season while head coach Mike Ringrose takes a parental leave. "Those are definitely qualities that we see in a leader and things that his teammates see as well. We put it to a vote this year. Coaches have their say, but everyone voted for him to be captain, so it was an easy pick for us."
M��| PREVIEW@MacEwanHockey's @CanadaWest home opener is tomorrow!— MacEwan Griffins (@MacEwanGriffins) September 29, 2022
New captain Kole Gable leads @MacEwanU into action vs. @ReginaCougars on Friday (7 PM) & Saturday (3 PM, both DCA).#GriffNation
Gable, who is one of just seven Griffins players remaining from their successful ACAC era (which ended in 2020), hasn't been a captain since his minor hockey days, but his leadership is evident in the way he approaches the game.
"I think I'm a pretty vocal guy," he said. "I'm always laughing and joking in the room. I like to be friends with everyone on the team. I just go out and play the right way and hopefully people follow me."
He's had some great role models wearing the 'C' already during his time at MacEwan – Cam Gotaas in his first season and Ethan Price in 2021-22.
"I definitely learned the importance of school, for sure – that's a big part," explained Gable. "And then just being there for everyone. You're looked up to not only on the ice, but off of it at school, as well. I think you need to be approachable and there for everyone."
He will have support in a solid leadership group that features assistant captains Curtis Roach and Sean Comrie. Additionally, Zach Webb will wear an 'A' during home games, while Jordan Taupert will have an 'A' on the road.
"All of those guys are leaders in their own right," said Dailey, noting all were also voted to their positions. "They all work hard, they all come with great attitudes. They're guys that other teammates look up to and the coaching staff feels do a great job of embodying the program.
"One thing to add, though, these are the guys wearing the A's, but we have a ton of leaders in our dressing room. We're lucky in that sense that we have a whole bunch of leaders on our team."
Sean Comrie will be one of four assistant captains on the Griffins this season (Joel Kingston photo).
And that will be important as the Griffins head into their second U SPORTS season with a goal of making the Canada West post-season for the first time.
"I think the playoffs would be a great steppingstone for us," said Gable. "Last year, we weren't very happy with how the season was cut short.
"This year, we've got a great group of young guys coming in and a good core group, so hopefully that will lead us towards the playoffs, for sure."
They certainly have the right leader in place, one with a championship under his belt that few have experienced. In 2017-18, Gable was a member of the Western Hockey League champion Swift Current Broncos – a teammate of Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner.
"It was a great experience," said Gable, who later finished his junior career with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. "Winning any time is good. You learn how to grind it out. We played 102 games that season, so you learn you've got to take care of your body, practice hard and obviously results happen."
That's his message for the Griffins, too, because university hockey, although it features fewer games, can be a grind also with the multi-faceted demands placed on a student-athlete.
"When you get into the grind, it's hard to keep pushing forward, but when the results are there at the end, you follow the process and work towards it," said Gable.
Interim head coach Zack Dailey aims to guide the Griffins to a Canada West post-season berth in 2022-23 (Joel Kingston photo).
Bolstered by a promising recruiting class that includes top junior players and NCAA transfers, the Griffins aim to take another step forward in 2022-23.
"I think Mike did a great job recruiting," said Dailey. "The recruits coming in are going to be a big part of this team to help push the program forward.
"I think we're a team that skates well and works hard. We just need to work on consistent efforts. We've seen throughout the preseason at times we've been quite good and at times we haven't been very good. So, we're just trying to build that consistency, bring the effort and the attitude every single day, and continue to get better.
"I see a bright future for this team and this program. I'm excited to see how the season goes."