Mission AZ proud of its proficiency-producing captains
There’s a unique structure to the program at Mission Arizona hockey, and it is producing some amazing results.
While win-loss records vary from season to season, Jeremy Goltz, the program’s director of hockey operations, is bullish on Mission’s ability to develop quality players and people. The proof, he says, is in the fact that Mission AZ has produced 17 players who have gone on to become captains or assistant captains of their college or junior teams.
“That’s almost a third of the 50 players in our Hall of Fame and obviously, we’re very proud of that,” Goltz said. “It’s not happening by accident. It’s one of the things that we really try to stress with our guys.”
Currently, Scott Farr and Marcus Velasco are captains for Arizona State’s ACHA Division II team. Corey Briody captains the Division II team at Northern Arizona University, Kyle Erwin (pictured) is an assistant captain for the D-III team at NAU and Chris Carouchi wears an ‘A’ on his sweater with the Arizona Hawks in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL).
Other captains that have previously come out of the Mission program have included Jack Allen (Philadelphia Jr. Flyers), Ryan Mohr, Cam Morgan, Clay Dickson and Matt Wolf (Arizona State); Steven Taylor, Trey Gonzales, Alex Stewart and Chris Eades (NAU), Manny Rowe (Syracuse), Taylor Knight (Aspen) and Pat Moodie (Eugene Generals).
Many of the players said Mission’s unique structure has a lot to do with the program developing so many leaders. The 16U and 18U Tier I teams travel together and operate in a similar fashion to how the junior varsity and varsity squads might in a high school program. Younger players witness the leadership of the older players and are then put in a position to lead their fellow players as captains or assistant captains.
“Coach Goltz and the rest of the Mission program know how to develop players into leaders,” said Carouchi, who wasn’t a captain when he played for Mission, but considered himself a leader. “Even though a player may not wear a ‘C’ or an ‘A,’ that player is encouraged to be a leader for their team.
“I feel (my two seasons with Mission) helped me step into this role (with the Hawks) much easier – that experience really helped me to not shy away from this honor.”
Erwin played six years in the Mission program, serving as a captain or assistant for three of those. Now a junior at Northern Arizona, he said he learned a lot about leadership playing under Goltz.
“The program is really set up like a college program,” he said. “You’re considered an underclassman when you first come in and as you get older, you become the player that the younger guys look to for advice. You learn to hold people accountable and deal with any problems that come up.”
Briody spent five seasons with Mission, and was an assistant captain during his final year there when his 18U team advanced to the USA Hockey Youth Nationals.
“I’ve always tried to be one of the hardest-working guys on the ice all the time,” Briody said. “I’m not a very vocal leader, but can speak up when needed to get guys focused and aiming for the same goals. When I started with Mission, I wasn’t a great player, and Coach Goltz told me that I was going to have to work hard. I take pride in leading by example and have carried that on through college as well.”
Mission’s ability to produce leaders has impressed its current and former players.
“I think the fact that there have been so many college and junior hockey captains coming out of Mission shows that Coach Goltz is not only developing good hockey players, but people who turn out to be well-rounded men in all aspects of their lives,” Erwin said.
– Greg Ball