The Ferris State University men's ice hockey program invited Derek Lalonde, former assistant coach and current Detroit Red Wings head coach, back to Big Rapids to announce the team's captains for the upcoming season on Monday.
The Bulldog Captains for the 2023-24 season will be: Brenden MacLaren, Jason Brancheau, Stepan Pokorny and Nick Hale.
Senior Brenden MacLaren will wear the captain's patch for the second year in a row. While wearing the patch last year, MacLaren set a career-high with 16 points (12 assists). The fifth-year senior earned CCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors on Dec. 19 and will look to build upon what was a strong senior season in his fifth year. MacLaren's leadership abilities, locker and weight room presence and excellence in the classroom are a few of the many reasons he was selected to wear the captain's patch in 2023-24.
"It's a tremendous honor," McLaren said. "Our leadership group is more than us four guys. It's more than one guy wearing a letter that leads the team."
Senior Jason Brancheau will wear an assistant captain's patch for 2023-24. After scoring just one goal in his first four seasons with Ferris State, Brancheau broke out in a huge way last year. He led the team with 13 goals and finished second on the team with 21 points. He also led the team with three power-play goals. In his fifth season with FSU and first wearing a captain's patch, "Branch" will look to build on an impressive offensive output from 2022-23 as he heads into 2023-24.
"It's (feels) awesome for the guys to pick me," Brancheau said. "It's tremendous honor with all the other "A's" and "C's" that have been here before me."
Senior Stepan Pokorny will join the captain's group in 2023-24 while wearing an assistant captain's patch. Pokorny led the Bulldogs with 22 points, 16 assists and 79 shots a year ago. The top line center for FSU, Pokorny's offensive production was a driving force behind the team's ability to score. Now in his fourth season with the Bulldogs, "Poky" will once again be a focal point offensively but will also wear a patch for the first time in his career.
"I'm really happy for the coaches and the players to trust me to lead the team," Pokorny said.
Graduate transfer Nick Hale (Holy Cross) will wear an assistant captain's patch for the upcoming season. Hale follows in former Bulldog Matt Slick's steps, as Slick also transferred from Holy Cross and became a captain in his first season with FSU on last year's squad. Hale brings strong offensive ability to the Bulldog blueline, as he scored 39 points in his final two seasons with Holy Cross. He integrated into the Bulldog culture rapidly upon arrival, and his strong leadership and voice in the locker room earned him the captain's patch for 2023-24.
"(An) unbelieveable honor," Hale said. "It didn't take long to get to know the guys well and just excited to get things going now."
The Bulldogs begin their season Oct. 7 against Miami (Ohio) inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. (ET).