“He’s always the last off the ice,” said Elizabeth Cudmore, the Campbell River Storm’s trainer. “You have to pry him off.”
She was talking about Cole Slaney, this year’s team captain, as the Mirror waited to speak to him after a Wednesday morning practice at the Rod Brind’Amour Arena.
She praised the captain, saying players like him make the volunteer position of trainer worthwhile.
“Those types of kids are the reason why volunteers like us do this,” she said.
Praise for the 20-year-old defenceman was echoed by coach Lee Stone, who said that picking Slaney as captain was an “absolute no-brainer.”
Slaney took over captain’s duties in the midst of the Cyclone Taylor Cup tournament last season after the previous captain received a suspension, said Stone.
“He has the respect of the guys at a level that even [with] past captains I don’t think I’ve seen,” Stone said.
Slaney first played with the Storm when at age 17 before joining the BC Hockey League’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
After a year with the Bulldogs, he came back to the Storm last season, helping the team win the Brent Patterson Memorial Trophy in league championships.
As a player, he’s known for leading by example, Stone said.
“He’ll put his body on the line,” he said. “He’s never afraid to block shots.”
So far this season, Slaney hasn’t found the back of the net but has tallied seven assists in 11 games.
As captain, Slaney said he lets his teammates know what he’s thinking in the locker room, on the bench and on the ice.
“When I say something, the message usually gets heard pretty well,” he said. “I’m only saying it if it’s true and I’m only saying it if it has to be said. I’m not just going to be speaking nonsense all of the time.”
When he’s not on the ice, Slaney – who is originally from Quesnel but lives with his family in Salmon Arm during the summer – is a fan of the outdoors.
He also works part-time at Royal LePage and studies real estate through a UBC distance education program.
He said the role of captain for a championship team is challenging, especially as Campbell River prepares to host the Taylor Cup this year. But he said he benefits from a “great supporting cast.”
“It’s a pretty big responsibility and it feels pretty special to be able to have that title,” said Slaney.
Campbell River currently holds the top spot in the North Division with 27 points, compared to the Nanaimo Buccaneers’ 26.
The Storm’s next game is on Friday in North Saanich against the Peninsula Panthers. That weekend features another away game – this one against the Oceanside Generals – before Campbell River hosts the Panthers on Sunday at 4 p.m.