(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
In just their second season as an NCAA team, the Arizona State Sun Devils have plenty of new faces on the ice. One in particular, Dylan Hollman, has made one of the strongest early impressions and was rewarded for his efforts by being named the team’s captain for the 2016-17 season.
It came as a surprise to some that Hollman earned the title captain, as he is not among the 13 returning players who saw game action on last season’s team. However, Hollman is not short on experience. Having transfered over from established hockey power UMass-Lowell after the 2014-2015 season, where he only played one game, he was exposed to NCAA play earlier than most other players on the roster.
Hollman said that what he learned from his short time on the East Coast has prepared him for his duties as captain.
“They have had a really successful program over the last 3-4 years,” he said. “Their culture and practice habits were something that I was really exposed to in the year that I was there and I have really tried to bring that over to the culture here.”
Despite being forced to redshirt last season due to NCAA transfer rules, he was frequently around the team, so he isn’t a complete newcomer to the tradition the Sun Devils are building.
Hollman was able to gain a feel for the coaching style of the staff and gain their trust, which he mentioned as an advantage of his redshirt year.
For head coach Greg Powers, it was easy to name Hollman the captain, mentioning that his natural personality fits the captain persona well.
“It was really impressive last year as a redshirt to see a kid come here every day and be the best player in practice without having game time as a reward,” Powers said. “He is a kid with a ton of character, he is a 4.0 student, and he leads with a ton of character on and off the ice.”
For Hollman, the title is something he is proud to have. He has limited experience serving as a captain, although he did have the role for the Team Canada West U19 team at the World Junior A Classic three years ago.
That was a very different set of circumstances, as it was a tournament style format and the team was only together for a few weeks. Now that he is captain of an NCAA team, Hollman is ready to take on the additional challenges that face him.
“It is a real honor to know the coaches have that kind of faith in me,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for me to represent the team and I have a great group of alternate captains in place along with a lot of older guys who have really stepped up and made my job easier.”
The primary challenge that he will face is elevating the Sun Devils, who had an expectedly difficult season last year, to the next level.
“Our expectations are obviously way higher,” Hollman said. “Coming into this year, we feel really confident about the group that we put together. We feel we have a real chance to win every single night no matter who we are playing against, so I think that confidence is going to go a long ways towards our attitude on the bench and in the locker room, so hopefully that will translate into success on the ice.”
He is just one of many players that will lace up the skates this year, but Hollman’s impact as a leader will be a boost to a team in need of one. According to Powers, in order to be successful, he doesn’t have to do much different than he is already doing.
“He just needs to continue to be himself,” Powers said. “The guys follow, they listen to him, and they respect him. He’s done a great job.”