South Shore Breaker

Crotty ‘the right choice’ to lead Mustangs

Arnold, Barnes and O’connell named assistant captains as part of South Shore’s leadership group


After deliberati­ng for the first month of the Nova Scotia Under-18 Major Hockey League season, the South Shore Mustangs’ coaching staff chose four returning players to lead the team for the 2023-24 campaign.

Before a mid-october practice, the Mustangs named Luke Crotty as captain and Angus Arnold, Cameron Barnes and Dawson O’connell as the assistant captains.

Coach and general manager Ian Haverstock said South Shore wanted to use the early part of the season to determine who would best represent the team in leadership roles.

Stepping into the captaincy is Crotty, a 17-year-old defenceman from Harrietsfi­eld.

“Luke is the right choice to lead our group,” Haverstock said. “He does things the right way, on and off the ice, which is a great example for the new players on how things are done at this level.

“He has a natural presence in the (dressing) room where, as soon as he speaks, everyone stops what they’re doing and listens. The rest of the team really looks up to him and respects him.”

Arnold and Barnes are 17-year-old forwards from Halifax and Yarmouth, respective­ly, while O’connell is a 16-year-old defenceman from West Pubnico.

“Barnes and Arnold bring great experience, as both are returning players,” Haverstock said. “They are probably a little more vocal than Crotty, which is why they complement each other well as a group.”

The Mustangs’ fourth-year coach sees a potential captain in O’connell, a territoria­l pick of the junior A Yarmouth Mariners in last spring’s Maritime Hockey League draft.

“Dawson O’connell is another one who does things, day in and day out, the right way. A great person for the new players to watch and learn from. With Dawson able to return next year, we hope he can gain experience this year in a leadership role.”

As this year’s captain, Crotty succeeds Jared Pitman, the league MVP last season and now a rookie with the Mariners.

During a team meeting, Haverstock announced the three assistants and then introduced Crotty as captain.

“It was nice to get the

C in front of all the teammates,” Crotty said. “I was definitely surprised about it. I thought maybe as a third-year (midget), I’d have a chance at earning a letter, but I didn’t think I would be captain.

“When he finally announced my name, I was so excited to get it.”

As a Chebucto minor hockey player, Crotty rotated with other players wearing letters, but this marks the first time he’s been selected as captain of any team for a fullseason term. On the blue-line and in the room, he’s an imposing figure at six-foot-three and 175 pounds.

“I kind of control the room, as in I overlook everybody and just make sure everyone is focused and ready to go when it comes to game time,”

Crotty said. “I’m not the most vocal guy, but my (assistants) help me out on all that.

“When it comes to the stuff you don’t want to tell the boys, the not-so-fun part of the job, I’ve done that. I guess the coaches saw that and just really liked it.”

Crotty and Barnes are living with billet families in the Bridgewate­r area and enrolled in Grade 12 studies at Park View Education Centre.

In wearing an A this year, Barnes replicates a role he played four seasons ago in his second year of U15 major with the Western Hurricanes.

“It feels good to be recognized for my leadership,” he said. “Guys just respect us all.”

Crotty’s demeanour and skills make him what teammates describe as an effective and even-keeled captain.

“He’s just a great guy off the ice,” Barnes said. “On the ice, he’s a good player. He leads by example. I think everyone has that respect for Luke that he needs.

“Me and Angus (Arnold) are definitely more vocal. The other two (captains), they mostly just lead by example. They’re really good on the ice. But, me and Angus, we kind of lead it a bit more off the ice. We just try to keep the positivity up and try to keep the negativity out of the room.”

The Mustangs had a challengin­g stretch in October, losing four of five games after opening the season with a 3-2 record.

“I think we can be one of the top teams when we play our game,” Barnes said. “We just need to be more consistent.”

He believes part of that maturation process comes off the ice with team-building activities like Rookie Idol, where the first-year Mustangs sing in front of their teammates.

“It’s really fun,” said Barnes, the runner-up to Graydon Mole in last year’s competitio­n. “It just gets them out of their shell a little bit. They have to show what they’ve got and go up and talk in front of everybody.”

 ?? KEN CHETWYND ?? Yarmouth’s Cameron Barnes, a 17-year-old forward, is one of three assistant captains with the South Shore Mustangs.
KEN CHETWYND Yarmouth’s Cameron Barnes, a 17-year-old forward, is one of three assistant captains with the South Shore Mustangs.
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