Xtreme co-captain settling into sophomore season
Last year, he was a rookie learning the ropes of Bantam AAA hockey.
Now, Jordan McConnell has stepped into one of the team’s top roles and has grown into one of its top players. McConnell was named co-captain of the Airdrie Xtreme this season, along with linemate Andrew Fyten.
Xtreme Head Coach Terry Keogh said both McConnell and Fyten emerged as leaders after their rookie years, but choosing between the two was tough, so both were named captain. McConnell wears the ‘C’ for home games.
“Typically, we only choose one,” Keogh said. “They work so well together and choosing one over the other would’ve been wrong. They’re both leaders and the players look up to them.
“(Jordan’s) done really well. At a tournament in Red Deer, Andrew was injured in the first game and Jordan stepped up and ruled the ice. He was dominating in his play and he challenged the players to step up to his level.”
How to lead a team was something McConnell learned in his first season thanks to a host of veterans. However, it was former Xtreme player Marshall Burr McConnell looked up to.
“I learned a lot from him,” McConnell said. “I learned how to pick the guys up when they’re down and how to lead by example.
Skill wise, McConnell said he’s improved his speed and how to control the pace of the game. Not only is the team’s leader on the ice, he’s also one of the team’s top scorers. In the first two months of the season, McConnell has recorded six goals and two assists.
His eight points ties him for first on the team with Fyten and Jared Janke, his linemates, who McConnell credits his strong start to the year to. Three of McConnell’s goals have come on the powerplay, which is proving to be one of the team’s strengths.
Putting up points hasn’t been an issue for the young forward in his two years with the Xtreme. Last season, he was fourth in scoring with 11 goals and 11 assists and he’s on pace to hit 30 points this year.
Keogh said that McConnell’s leadership extends off the ice and that includes how he displays his understanding of how the team is run.
“He makes sure the new players understand what we’re all about and the commitment that’s involved,” he said. “His work ethic encourages the others and it’s a great example for the rest to follow. If a player starts to go sideways, he puts them back to where we want them to be.”
McConnell said being the leader of a young, new team isn’t as big a challenge as it would seem thanks to the familiarity the players have with each other, as many of them played together at the minor level.
While the team has struggled with consistency in the early months of the season, McConnell said it has to use that familiarity to improve.
“When we work together and everyone’s going, we play better and it shows on the score sheet,” he said.”