At its annual banquet, the Harvard men’s hockey program named its captains for the 2018-2019 season while also honoring the accomplishments of players in the past year. Rising seniors and forwards Michael Floodstrand and Lewis Zerter-Gossage will wear the “C” for the Crimson, becoming the 131st and 132nd captains in program history.
“I’ve had the privilege of being around...pretty stellar guys and great leaders,” said Zerter-Gossage, alluding to the captains of years past. “But it’s a big responsibility, and now it’s up to us, the seniors, to be really setting the tone and having the younger guys follow.”
Zerter-Gossage (32 GP, 10–19—29) played on Harvard’s productive top line this past season, also chipping in on the premier power play unit and helping out with faceoff duties with linemate and fellow junior Ryan Donato. Floodstrand (33 GP, 4–6—10) spent time on the wing of tri-captain Jake Horton this past year, slotting in on an energetic and shutdown third line.
Both Zerter-Gossage and Floodstrand knew, after the 2017-2018 season, that they would have to step up to leadership roles regardless of the election’s results. The Crimson will bid farewell to its winningest senior class (83), which beat out a twelve-year record to earn that distinction. The class of 2018 also supplied the team with a trio of captains—the program’s first of its kind—in Horton, goaltender Merrick Madsen, and forward Eddie Ellis.
“Me and [Zerter-Gossage] are the ones that are going to be wearing the Cs,” Floodstrand acknowledged. “But when you look back at past years that have had a lot of success, the entire senior class and even the junior class are leaders on the team.”
Leadership by committee isn’t a new principle for Harvard. Even before this season’s three captains, the class of 2017 graduated as the highest-scoring senior class in the NCAA and was at the helm of the team’s 2017 Frozen Four run. Floodstrand and Zerter-Gossage agree that the entire class of rising seniors will be a part of next year’s leadership core. Floodstrand pointed to net-minder Michael Lackey and defensemen Adam Baughman and Jacob Olson as teammates he will rely on to step up.
“All of them have a tremendous amount of respect from guys in the locker room,” Floodstrand said. “Any one of them could have been a captain…. To have extra voices in the locker room that can communicate things, that can really resonate with the guys, is huge.”
Current sophomores, too, must rise to the occasion. Zerter-Gossage cited defensemen John Marino and Adam Fox, as well as his own linemate Ty Pelton-Byce, as critical to upholding the Crimson’s culture. A major aspect of that culture, one that Harvard has emphasized since its resurgence as a program, is establishing goals in advance of the season. Very often, the primary goal is crystal clear.
“Everybody on the team truly believes that next year we can win a national championship, or get really close,” Floodstrand said. “That’s obviously the number one goal. You obviously want to win a Beanpot championship, an ECAC championship, an Ivy League championship...and then there’s day-to-day things to hold yourself to, as a standard.”
Any incoming captain must adapt to a more accountable dynamic with his coaching staff. Zerter-Gossage and Floodstrand, however, have unique perspectives in their relationships with Crimson bench boss Ted Donato ’91 due to their concurrent roles as classmates and friends of the coach’s son Ryan.
“I was always...seeing [coach Donato] in more of a relaxed setting than most players do with their coaches,” Floodstrand said. “[Zerter-Gossage] is in the same situation as me, where we’re very comfortable talking to him about stuff, and that’s huge…. It’s always good to have that extra bit of transparency.”
Any college hockey club must deal with the reality of a rotating cast of personnel. With a locked-in group of rising upperclassmen, the Crimson has its sights firmly set on accomplishing more of its goals in the 2018-2019 season. The squad has already lost its top scorer, Donato, to the NHL’s Boston Bruins, but otherwise returns eight of the next nine names on the points table.
That group contains several rookies who enjoyed success in their debut campaign: forwards Jack Badini (10–7—17) and Henry Bowlby (8–8—16) and puck-moving defenseman Reilly Walsh (7–13—20). Harvard will look for its young, talented sophomore scoring corps to continue doing what it does best alongside Fox, Pelton-Byce, and Zerter-Gossage.
“There’s not a doubt in anyone’s mind that we can be a national championship type team next year,” Floodstrand emphasized. “That’s our goal, and everything that we do from here on out has got to be towards that.”
—Staff writer Stuti R. Telidevara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @StutiTelidevara.
—Men's hockey co-beat Spencer R. Morris conducted the interviews for this story. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMorrisTHC.
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