The Maryland Black Bears announced their on-ice leadership on Thursday, with Conor Cole being named the fifth captain in Black Bears team history. Alternates for Cole will be Aden Bruich, Philip Törnqvist, Branden Piku, and Brad McNeil.
Cole is in his second season with the Black Bears after posting nine goals and 25 points last season, netting him a spot in the Top Prospects Tournament in June. An alternate captain last year, Cole was proficient in the face off circle, as well as on special teams.
“Conor is an extremely well-respected player within the room, and within the league,” mentioned Black Bears head coach and GM Clint Mylymok. “He plays the game the right way, always portrays himself in a professional manner, and is a fierce competitor. He is such a good person and his maturity reflects well with the values we want to portray as an organization, on and off the ice. He has big expectations for himself and our organization, and we feel there is no one better to lead the Maryland Black Bears in 2021-22 than Conor Cole”
On the alternate side, four returnees will don the “A” this season, starting with three-year Black Bear Aden Bruich, a former first round pick. A physical presence, Bruich has 14 goals and 25 points over his two seasons with Maryland and is looking to hone his game before heading off to Clarkson University.
With a clutch scoring ability, Brad McNeil is looking to build off his first season in the NAHL. With five goals and 11 points, McNeil potted some timely goals for Maryland down the stretch, aiding in the first playoff berth in team history.
Despite only playing 32 games, Philip Törnqvist caught fire late in the season, finishing with six goals and 10 points before netting two goals and four points in the playoffs. With his training this off-season, look for the Swede to make a splash in his last year of junior hockey.
One of the spark plugs on the team, Branden Piku was limited to 28 games after joining mid-season, but still provided a lot of energy and scoring for the Black Bears. With six goals and 13 points, Piku will look to create more energy and excitement before he heads to Lake State next year.
Looking at this leadership group, you can’t go wrong with any of the choices. Whether it be by example on the ice or behind closed doors off it, these five players will help boost this squad up and continue the path they started to lay last year. I think the most crucial part is they’re all returnees; a first for the Black Bears in that instance. For all of them to know what is expected from Coach Mylymok and the staff will only help push the process forward for this team. They know what is expected, they know how to get to that point, and they won’t let others get left behind.