A new year means a new leadership group for the Mississauga Steelheads. With 2018-2019 captain Cole Carter moving to Carleton University in the USport league and former alternate captain Ryan McLeod having been traded to the Saginaw Spirit, the Steelheads entered the season ready to name a new team captain and two assistant captains.
Returning to the roster this season wearing the “A” for his second year is Nicholas Canade. Canade established himself as a leader both on and off the ice and was recognized for his leadership from the OHL by being awarded the Dan Snyder Trophy (OHL Humanitarian Of The Year) this past season. The Mississauga native was drafted by the Steelheads in the 11th round (208th overall) at the 2016 OHL Priority Selection Draft.
During the 2018-2019 campaign, Canade scored six goals and added 16 assists, making for a total of 23 points recorded. Throughout his two-year OHL career, Canade has registered 36 points in 126 OHL games, playing in all of them for the Steelheads.
Alongside Canade, Keean Washkurak will also be wearing the “A” on his Steelheads jersey this season. Washkurak was one of the Steelheads top players last season, posting 16 goals and 31 assist, making for a total of 47 points in 66 games played. Looking at his stat sheet may not truly paint the picture as to how important Washkurak is for his team.
He is a force on the ice in every way possible. Although he is 5’10, Washkurak plays a highly physical game and is not afraid to stand his ground against much bigger and stronger players. He is constantly throwing massive hits on the boards and also gets knocked around by opposing teams a lot, however, he never gets fazed and gets right back up like nothing happened. Washkurak is not afraid to drop the gloves and combines his physical style of play with his speed as well.
Washkurak was named to the Team Canada at the 2019 U18 World Junior Championship roster and was named as the OHL Western Conference’s hardest working player in the yearly annual coaches poll. Washkurak always gives it 110% on the ice and it certainly did not go unnoticed. The St. Louis Blues noticed the hard-working centre this season and drafted him in the fifth round, 155th overall at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
With multiple overage players having left the team this offseason, Washkurak will get every opportunity to take his game to the next level and help serve as a leader to his Mississauga Steelheads team.
Washkurak will be looked upon for guidance by some of the younger centremen on the roster this season such as 2020 draft eligible Aidan Prueter and 15-year-old rookie Luca Del Bel Belluz.
Wearing the “C” for any sports team is looked upon as a big honour and for the seventh time in franchise history, that honour is being bestowed upon a new jersey. For the 2019-2020 season the Mississauga Steelheads have named defenceman Liam Ham as their newest captain. Ham was traded from the Niagara IceDogs to the Mississauga Steelheads during the season. He then quickly became one of the team’s top defenders and made a name for himself right away.
In 41 games in Mississauga, Ham recorded 30 points. Ham proved to be one of the most reliable defensive presences in the OHL and was tied in second place as the best defensive defensemen in the annual year-end coaches poll.
When asked about what being named captain meant to him, Ham was thrilled about the news and voiced his excitement for the upcoming season, saying of the title he received on Wednesday morning, “I am honoured to be selected by our coaching staff as captain to represent our team this year. We have a very tight knit group that works hard and loves to play together. Along with Keean and Nick who also will be representing our team as leaders we are very focused on having a long and successful year.”
Mississauga Steelheads general manager and head coach James Richmond addressed the new leadership group in a press release where he said with regards to the upgrade in Ham taking over alongside his assistants, “We are pleased to announce our 2019-20 Captains. Liam Ham will wear the “C”, Nicholas Canade and Keean Washkurak will wear the “A’s”. We have a ton of character in our dressing room and quite honestly there are a number of players the coaches will be leaning on for leadership this season. Liam, Nicholas and Keean are all true leaders on and off the ice and they will all be tremendous reflections of what a Steelhead is. We would like to congratulate all three of these players on this accomplishment and we all look forward to a great season.”