Four hockey standouts to lead on the ice

As the UAA hockey team gears into season, head coach Matt Thomas made the official announcement that senior forward Matt Anholt will take the role as team captain for the 2017-18 season. In addition, senior goalie Olivier Mantha, senior forward Tad Kozun and sophomore Nolan Nicholas will be the assistant captains.

Tad Kozun steps out on the ice at the Sullivan Arena after now-captain Matt Anholt. Kozun is serving as one of three assistant captains for the 2017-18 hockey season. Photo credit: Adam Phillips

Anholt and Mantha return as captains, after serving in the role last year, but Kozun and Nicholas are new to the leadership.

Anholt originally started off as assistant captain during his sophomore season in 2015-16 and transitioned to captain during his junior season the following year

“Matt [Anholt] is a consistent performer and an intense individual that demands a standard that we want to strive for. As a three-time captain, he is more than ready to lead our team,” Thomas said.

As a junior, Anholt dressed as captain in all 34 games and made combined impressive stats including leading the team in assists (17), points (22) and plus-minus (+4). In addition, he tallied UAA season-high 3 assists at Lake Superior State, Feb. 10.

Anholt not only made impressive athletic accomplishments, but academic ones as well. He was one of nine Seawolves named as WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient and a member of WCHA All-Academic Team. Due to his achievements, Anholt was nominated for UAA’s Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year honor and also awarded the team’s McEnaney/Kraft Most Inspirational Player Award.

The first assistant captain is senior goalie Mantha, who impressively ranks in the top-five in program history in five career categories: first in save percentage (.910), second in saves (2,503), third in goals against average (2.87) and third in minutes played (5,188:56).

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“Olivier [Mantha] is a guy that our players respect. He competes hard and prepares diligently on a daily basis. He will continue to push our team to achieve new heights,” Thomas said.

Olivier Mantha stops the puck in a 2016 game versus Michigan Tech. Mantha sports a 4.0 GPA, and is serving a second season as assistant captain. Photo credit: Adam Phillips

Now entering his senior year, Mantha spent the previous season dressed as assistant captain, starting in 29 games and seeing action 30 times. During the season, he made 867 saves, tying former UAA and current NHL player Nathan Lawson (2004-05) for second-most on the single-season list.

In addition, Mantha recorded 2.82 goals-against average, making it the ninth-best by an UAA player in the history of the program. By playing in 5,189 minutes over his career, Mantha finished his junior season with second-most saves (2,503) and games played (91) by any UAA goalie.

Mantha also boasts academic achievements such as being one the nine Seawolves named as WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient and a two-time member of WCHA All-Academic Team.

These accomplishments gained Mantha a lot of respect, resulting in him winning the Craig Homan Most Valuable Player Award for third consecutive year at team awards and also being voted by fans as Leon Thompson Fan Favorite for second time.

Mantha also made it on all-time UAA career goaltender list, No. 1 for save percentage (.908), tied for No. 13 for wins (17), No. 13 for minutes played (3,424.21), No. 3 for goals-against average (2.89), No. 10 for saves (1,636) and tied for No. 5 for shutouts (2).

Kozun is also on the list for assistant captains. He has appeared in 100 career games and also, impressively, leads the team in both career goals (24) and points (54).

“Tad [Kozun] brings a dedicated and relentless pursuit to the leadership group. His intensity will show our young players what it takes to be a Division I athlete on a daily basis,” Thomas said.

In the previous 2016-17 season, Kozun recorded 5-14-19 totals in 32 of 34 games. Throughout the 32 games he played, he fired 63 shots on target, recording 5 shots on three occasions and averaging 1.97 per game. This record moved Kozun into a tie for 56th on UAA’s all-time career goal list.

Just like Mantha and Anholt, Kozun was also named as a WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient and was a member of WCHA All-Academic Team for both his junior and sophomore year.

During the 2015-16 season, Kozun also managed to make a record for accumulating the second most penalties on team with 17, serving a team-high 64 minutes.

Sophomore Nolan Nicholas picked up the role as assistant captain after completing his freshmen season playing in 30 of the 34 total games.

“Nolan [Nicholas] was voted our rookie of the year because of his character and team first attitude,” Thomas said. “He is a player that knows how to lead and will be a great supporting leader for our underclassmen.”

Nicholas collegiate debut with the Seawolves allowed him to accumulate a team-leading 57 blocked shots in 30 games. His impressive stats earned him the title of the team’s Dean Larson Rookie of the Year Award.

Nolan Nicholas reaches out to defend the goal from Alabama Huntsville during a Nov. 2016 home game at the Sullivan Arena. Nicholas was awarded the Dean Larson Rookie of the Year Award in his freshman season. Photo credit: Adam Phillips

Before coming to UAA, Nicholas played for USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede and got leadership experience there while dressed as team captain.

The four captains and the rest of their team just debuted their 2017-18 season, beating Simon Fraser in an exhibition on Sept. 30, and splitting a weekend with North Dakota on Oct. 6 and 7. They return to the Sullivan Arena on Oct. 20 for the first round of the Governor’s Cup versus Alaska Fairbanks.