Captain to captain

Kelowna Chiefs captain Marshall Porteous and North Okanagan Knights captain Bryan Brew congratulate each other after last season’s playoff series.

Captains in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League provide leadership in their own way. There are different things to shoulder off the ice for a leadership group.

What is it like being a leader in a pandemic-impacted season? That’s what has been asked of this group. Here they share what they have been doing to help get their teammates through an unusual time, especially when league play has been forced to pause until at least the first week of 2021.

In Kelowna, Chiefs captain Marshall Porteous has been proactive in supporting teammates and keeping the group positive.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs,” he explains. “But I’m a huge advocate for mental health and it’s been pretty big for me to check in on guys. You want to be sure other guys are remaining vigilant and try to keep their hopes up to a potential restart to the season.

“We also want to make sure that we’re being responsible and creating a great example of what Dr. Bonnie Henry has asked of us,” he added.

North Okanagan Knights assistant captain Bryan Brew says in some ways it’s easier because they are not around the team as much.

“It’s just trying to keep everyone going, which is a bit difficult sometimes,” he says. “We’ve got guys who haven’t played a game in so long. They are away from home and we have had guys head home for Christmas early. It's tough to keep guys going.”

Brew talks to teammates to find out how they are doing. As a strong leadership group that tries to do things together, he says it was tough for them to watch practice from the stands.

“It’s definitely unusual,” concurs Osoyoos Coyotes captain Andrew Smiley. “I try and do what I normally do and keep the fellas focused. In practice, it’s just trying to keep our habits good and making sure everyone is working hard on and off the ice. A lot of it is out of our control, so we do what we can.”

Not being on the ice has made it challenging, but he tries to keep spirits up. Smiley leads by example, encouraging good habits away from the rink and in the gym. He talks to teammates to make sure everyone is good.

It’s a also been big change for Princeton Posse captain Trevor Gulenchyn.

“Coming into the captain role, it’s just making sure that everyone is wearing their mask,” he says. “It’s making sure everyone is staying accountable.”

He’s a lead-by-example type and provides leadership by being “somebody that everyone can count on.”

“It’s just been such a change with not being able to hang out with the guys in the lounge or not looking up in the stands and seeing fans. It’s just been weird.”