Meet the Seawolf: Chris Crowell
TNL: First off, congrats on becoming captain. Where and how did you get the news that you being named captain and what was your reaction?
CC: Coach brought me in one day and told me one-on-one in his office and then he told the rest of the team a couple days later. I was pretty happy, it was something I really wanted to do. It’s a big responsibility but I’d definitely say I’m excited for it.
You’ve been an assistant captain the past two years. Do you feel like this changes anything or does it feel pretty similar?
I’d say it will be a little more responsibility. In the past, (the co-captains) shared the responsibilities and there was four of us. This year, more stuff will fall on my shoulders but I’m fine with it.
So what are the advantages and disadvantages to having one voice as the soul captain compared to the voice of four co-captains?
It’s good to have four captains if everyone is on the same page. But if there is different guys with different opinions and different philosophies, not so much. So it’s good with one captain because its that one person and he has the final say and I feel like it’s a lot better going forward with just one. You’re voice carries more weight as one captain.
If you had to pick one or two, who would be your favorite captains that you’ve always admired in the pros?
Oh man, there’s always the famous ones like (Joe) Sakic and (Mark) Messier. I think Messier for sure would be probably the ultimate captain. Wendell Clark even is up there.
Do you prepare differently at all or approach practices and gamedays differently being a captain as opposed to being another guy on the team?
Not really, I just try and focus on myself and make sure I’m ready to go. In practice, you want to make sure everyone on the team is into it mentally. But there isn’t too much to it other than that. Just try and lead by example and work hard everyday. If the older guys and captains are going about things the right way, the younger guys will do the same and fall into place.
What are some of the perks of being a college hockey captain here at UAA?
I guess you get to eat first as a senior or upperclassmen. You talk to the refs during warm-ups (laughs). That’s kind of fun and you get out of warm-ups a bit. Other than that, I wouldn’t say a captain gets more or puts himself above others on the team.
How about downsides to wearing the “C” then?
Ah, yeah downsides. You get a bit more criticism if things are bad. Obviously, the coaches, the captain and the leadership group have things sort of fall on their shoulders. There’s definitely more pressure and you have to step up and face the music, if you will, if things start to go bad. So, I guess when things are going good, you look really good and when things aren’t, everyone thinks it’s your fault (laughs).
Describe your role as a player on the team? You seem to be more of a defensive-minded forward and one who gets matched up with the other teams top forwards.
Yeah, it’s a pretty simple, I’m a fourth-line checker. I like to play physical, kill penalties, simple things like that. I’m not as much of an offensive guy but that’s the game I’ve always played. It didn’t change when I came here to UAA. I’ve always been more of a grinder, or “sandpaper” kind of player and I take pride in it and I’m not ashamed of it. Every team needs guys like that because you need balance. You can’t have 20 of the same kind of players on a team.
If you could, compare your style of play to someone in today’s NHL? Who do you resemble or model your game after?
I look around and see Chris Neil on Ottawa, Raffi Torres on Phoenix, Shawn Thornton on Boston. Physical guys who are third or fourth-line checkers, so yeah, probably those kind of players.
What’s the offseason been like? Did you get a rest period or has it gotten right into workouts already?
Yeah we got a week and a half or so off after the season ended. Guys took some time away from the rink and I think everyone needed a break, mentally and physically. Then we started doing team workouts three-days-a-week with (?) Friese, our strength and conditioning coach, which have been good. We also have the optional skates but a lot of guys have been coming out to those as well. It’s a bit more relaxed now that season is over but guys are still working hard regardless.
Talk about last season and give us your thoughts on how it played out.
It was frustrating on a lot of levels. I think we started well with the two tournament wins but when league play started we just couldn’t find a grove and we were pretty inconsistent. We lost a lot of close games that could’ve gone our way. It was frustrating with a few guys leaving here and there as well. But I think it’s good that a lot of the guys have put that behind them. We don’t talk a whole lot about it. We’re trying to look forward to next year and changing some of the things we didn’t get right and get back to where we can be.
Speaking of next year, it will be your senior and final year for college hockey. Has it begun to hit you yet?
No not at all actually (laughs). When I think to next year, everyone is looking forward to it and everyone’s morale has been up since we’ve turned the page on last season. We want to improve and, like I said, get back to where we can be. We all want to get back to the WCHA Final Five. It was a pretty special thing and everyone’s has that goal and focus to make it happen.
Do you feel like you have the pieces in place to make it happen again?
Oh, definitely, it’s totally do-able. Obviously, we’re not going to be on paper as skilled as the Wisconsin’s or the Minnesota’s of our league, but if we can commit to playing our way and buying into the systems, like we did two years ago, we can make it happen again. Every year, you see these Cinderella teams, make a run at it. Look at Ferris State this season who went all the way to the National finals. Maybe on paper they don’t quite match up but they made it happen. A lot of our guys looked at that and were like ‘well, if Ferris can do that, why can’t we?’
Well before you get to next year, you got a whole summer ahead of you. How are your planning to spend your summer away from school?
Yep, it’s time to head back. I spend summer back home in Kelowna. I’ll train and work a bit there before we head back here to school. Summers are pretty good there though so hopefully I’ll get to play some golf, fish, and hang out a bit. But then, back to work..