GRAND FORKS — A lot of things went wrong for the University of North Dakota last season.

The Fighting Hawks lost 11 games in which they outshot their opponent by double digits. They lost to an Atlantic Hockey team, Canisius, for the first time ever. For every big win -- whether it was against top-ranked St. Cloud State, defending national champion Minnesota Duluth or No. 1 NCAA-tournament seed MSU-Mankato -- there was a step back that followed.

Frustration can mount in a season like that, and there's potential for things to go off the rails. But that never happened for UND. Offense dried up. Special teams struggled. But the team's effort and cohesiveness never changed.

That's why in a summer of changes for the UND hockey program -- the Fighting Hawks made an assistant coaching change and added a graduate transfer for the first time in recent history -- there was never a thought to have a different captain.

East Grand Forks Senior High graduate Colton Poolman was an easy pick to once again wear the 'C' for UND this season.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

UND officially announced Thursday afternoon, Aug. 1, that Poolman will wear the 'C' for a second-straight season, though head coach Brad Berry said it has long been known that would be the case. UND also announced that senior forward Cole Smith, junior forward Jordan Kawaguchi and junior defenseman Matt Kiersted will serve as alternate captains. It will be the first time wearing a letter for all three.

Poolman, a senior defenseman, had an opportunity to turn pro after last season, but opted to come back for one more season.

In doing so, he'll join a select group of people to wear the 'C' for two years at UND. Among them are Dave Hakstol, Scott Sandelin, Greg Johnson, Chay Genoway, Dane Litke and fellow East Grand Forks product Gage Ausmus.

"I thought he did a really good job last year of leading the team as a junior," Berry said. "He's one of those guys who does everything the right way on and off the ice. He does it to the fullest. He emulates everything you want in a leader in our program. He'll do an unreal job for us again."

Poolman was named the team's Most Valuable Player last season and was a finalist for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's MVP award. He had 17 points in 35 games while anchoring the defensive unit.

Off the ice, Poolman is one of the team's top students, earning academic All-American awards from American Hockey Coaches Association. He's majoring in biology and pre-health.

"We know Colton is going to do a great job," Berry said.

This offseason, UND waited until Aug. 1 to name all of its captains, which is much later than other years under Berry.

"Because we knew that Colton was going to be our captain, we felt like we could take our time and go through the process to make sure when we did our vote our players had a body of work (to judge), especially our freshmen," Berry said. "I liked taking some time and doing it. The results came in pretty resounding as to who those As were going to be.

"In saying that, just because some players aren't wearing letters doesn't mean they're not leaders. There are different upperclassmen who will be included in our leadership meetings going forward here. Our leadership goes outside of guys wearing letters. Others will be included in the fall."

Most of UND's players have been on campus throughout July to prepare for the season. They'll go home for a week before the start of the fall semester. Then, the Fighting Hawks will begin fall skates will the full roster present.

"We have to be better in a few different areas," Berry said. "We've identified those areas. With our leadership group going forward, we know how we want to attack those areas. The goal is to make the NCAA tournament and give ourselves a chance at winning a national title."

UND's two-year captains

Colton Poolman (2018-20)

Gage Ausmus (2015-17)

Chay Genoway (2009-11)

Dane Litke (1995-97)

Greg Johnson (1991-93)

Dave Hakstol (1990-92)

Scott Sandelin (1984-86)

Mark Taylor (1978-80)

Bob DePiero (1975-77)

Daryl Drader (1974-76)

Larry Drader (1973-75)

Brian DePiero (1970-72)

Sonny Roberge (1962-64)

John Gray (1960-62)

Ken Johannson (1951-53)