Former Ferris assistant coach and current Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde surprised the Ferris hockey team on Monday, Sept. 25 when he helped announce the Bulldog captains for the 2023-24 season.
Leading the Bulldogs in the 2023-24 season are captain senior defenseman captain Brendan MacLaren and the alternate captains senior forward Jason Brancheau, senior forward Stepan Pokorny and senior defenseman Nick Hale.
Lalonde’s appearance, which was unbeknownst to the entire team, was accompanied by a speech before he had announced the captains. Lalonde felt that his visit had worked out perfectly for him.
“It could not have fell any better,” Lalonde said. “We had our last [Red Wings] practice in Traverse City this morning. I drove straight here on my way home. It worked out great.” Lalonde, who served as an assistant captain from 2003-06, added that it was Ferris head coach Bob Daniels’ idea for him to come and surprise the team. For the newly declared captain MacLaren, having a coach from the National Hockey League come is something the team is honored by.
“[It’s] awesome,” MacLaren said. “How many teams in the country get an NHL head coach to come in and announce captains? Very, very special and it means a lot to us.”
The Bulldogs did not name a single captain last year, as they named both MacLaren and former defenseman Matt Slick co-captains. Following in the footsteps of Slick is alternate captain Hale. The freshly named alternate captain is a grad-transfer from the College of Holy Cross, which is the same college Slick came from as a grad transfer in 2022-23.
“I think when it comes to guys that are transferring from other schools, they are here because they want to be here,” Hale said. “They have had success with their former teams and know what it takes to be a part of a winning team.”
With the captains officially named, the Bulldogs’ next step is to take the ice against the Miami (OH) RedHawks in their home opener on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.