UND gives Connor Ford an 'A' as alternate captain
The transfer from Bowling Green has impressed in his first year with the Fighting Hawks.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — At the end of last Tuesday's video session with the team, UND coach Brad Berry flipped on the lights.
He said he had one more thing to do.
Berry told the team that with forward Gavin Hain out longterm due to a leg injury and defenseman Jake Sanderson heading to the Olympic Games for three weeks, the Fighting Hawks decided to elevate someone to alternate captain to fill in the void.
Berry pulled out a folded jersey and held it up.
It was Connor Ford's with an 'A' on it.
"Super special," Ford said. "Super emotional for me. I'm really proud of that and honored to be given that opportunity, not only from the coaching staff but my teammates. The leadership group had to sign off on it. Their belief in me combined with the coaching staff, it's something super special to me and something I'm going to remember the rest of my life."
Ford transferred from Bowling Green to UND this summer for his fifth and final year of college eligibility.
At Bowling Green, he served as team captain last season.
But first-year players at UND are rarely, if ever, given letters. Ford has impressed his teammates and staff enough to earn a letter in Year 1, though.
"I didn't know they'd do that," Ford said. "I knew they considered me as part of the leadership group, but I didn't think they'd do it in such a public form. But I appreciate that. It's hard to put into words how important it is for me."
Ford will join a captaincy group that already includes captain Mark Senden and alternates Sanderson, Hain and Ethan Frisch.
Ford wore the 'A' for the first time last Friday night at Western Michigan.
This season, the Pittsburgh product has been one of UND's most indispensable players. Holding down the first-line center role, he's won more faceoffs than any player in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, while chipping in 16 points in 20 games.
He plays in all situations for the first-place Fighting Hawks.
Ford played prep hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary's, which has produced numerous UND captains and alternates in the past 20 years, including Chay Genoway (C), Ryan Duncan (C), Chris Porter (C), Matt Smaby (C), Ben Blood (A), Taylor Chorney (A) and Jonathan Toews (A).