On Thursday, the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors announced the team’s leadership crew for the 2020-21 season. Of the five players named to serve as captains during the abbreviated 24-game ‘bubble’ season in Regina, SK., three were of Manitoban descent.
Leading the charge is 18-year-old Daemon Hunt. The Brandon product was named as the team’s 34th captain in franchise history, with fellow Brandonites 20-year-old Tate Popple and 18-year-old Calder Anderson joining Logan Doust and Ryder Korczak as alternates this season.
“To be able to wear a ‘C’ in hockey, it is one of the biggest honours an individual can ask for,” Hunt told Game On. “It’s humbling, and honestly a privilege. I’m proud of myself on how far I’ve come as a player and a person. I love to lead, I feel as it’s just in my blood. It’s such a big honour to be the leader for the Moose Jaw Warriors and I’m extremely excited to get started again.”
Entering his third WHL season, Hunt will look to build upon his past two years of play on the Warriors’ blueline. In 94 total regular season games, he has eight goals, 37 points and 29 penalty minutes.
“For me, nothing really changes,” Hunt said of his recent promotion. “I’ve gotten here by being myself and playing my game. Obviously there’s more responsibilities, but besides that, I’m just wearing a ‘C’ on my jersey. I stay true to who I am, remain humble, and compete every single day.”
Hunt has already had himself an interesting start to the 2020-21 campaign. After being selected by the Minnesota Wild in the third round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft this fall, the six-foot, 200-pound defender opted to join the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Virden Oil Capitals where he was able to dress in three games (earning three goals and five points) before the league shut down.
He then joined the American Hockey League’s Iowa Wild, where he played in another three games – his first taste of professional hockey since being drafted. Next up for the former Brandon Wheat Kings U15 and U18 AAA star will be the Regina-based WHL Eastern Division hub, where he and his teammates will look to prove victorious over their six division opponents, including Manitoba’s Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg ICE.
“I’m just really excited just to get back with the guys,” he added. “We haven’t been together in a year now. So for us to be in a bubble together, and get to play the game we love, it doesn’t get any better than that! I’m excited to get playing again and trying to win our division.”
“Leadership is all about influence,” Warriors’ head coach Mark O’Leary said. “Daemon’s attention to detail, professional preparation, and unmatched compete level make him a natural leader. I know Daemon is excited and is ready for the responsibility.”
The Warriors have a rich history of Manitobans in leadership roles, as both Brett and Quinton Howden (Oakbank) have served as captains, while Joel Edmundson (Brandon), Jack Rodewald (St. Andrews), Dylan McIlrath (Winnipeg) and Dustin Boyd (Winnipeg) have also seen leadership roles in Moose Jaw.
Popple, 20, is entering his fourth full season in Moose Jaw. Also starring for the local AAA team alongside Hunt, the left-shooting centreman has collected 28 goals and 55 points in 174 career games. While Anderson, 18, will begin his second WHL season this year. Also a product of the Wheat Kings’ minor hockey system, he had four goals, 10 points and 22 penalty minutes in 62 games with the Warriors last season.