Harrell named DII men’s hockey team’s head captain for upcoming season
Rising sophomore forward Josh Harrell, the Rookie of the Year for Liberty University’s ACHA Division II men’s hockey team last season, was recently named head captain for the 2022-23 season.
“He definitely did show leadership potential as a freshman,” Flames Head Coach Ben Hughes said. “He was actually a captain of his junior team (the USPHL’s Utah Outliers), so we knew he had some experience. His maturity, how he approaches the game, and how he connects with and treats other people are all first class. He is always one of the hardest working players on the team both on the ice and in the weight room, and he has a heart for the Lord, a heart for helping people grow closer to the Lord in their own faith walk, and also being a competitor.”
Harrell, an exercise science major from Franklin, Tenn., grew up playing in the Junior Predators program in Nashville. He spent one season with the York (Pa.) Skipjacks before joining the Outliers, playing with Alex Charin, a rising sophomore forward on the Flames’ DI team. He succeeds defenseman Maxx Mitchell, last season’s head captain who was one of seven seniors to graduate in May.
“I have some big shoes to fill, definitely,” Harrell said. “I really enjoyed being here last season. I had great teammates and great leadership to help pave the way and show me the ropes. I am definitely excited (but) it’s not a status thing. I’m just really looking forward to serving my teammates and pouring into them and just being a good teammate to them.”
He said the team’s alternate captains will be selected after training camp, which starts Aug. 20.
“We have six or seven guys that are really going to lead the charge this year,” Harrell said. “Yes, we’re going to have captains, but we’re going to have a locker room full of guys (who have) bought into our culture and what we are trying to accomplish here. We have another big freshman class coming in like we did last year, so the next couple seasons are definitely going to be about setting the groundwork for the future. We definitely have our work cut out for us, but it’s going to be great. It’s going to be fun.”
He said he hopes to be a spiritual leader on the team as well as its primary captain in game situations.
“That’s my goal, to not only accomplish our goals on the ice, but to have an impact in the locker room, just pouring into guys and going to battle with guys every day … with school or family life,” said Harrell, who wants to help his teammates navigate through important life issues. “That’s what we’re wanting to do as we’re growing into men, going into the real world, because there’s a lot more to life than hockey. Growing as godly men is really important, and that maturity (aspect) is going to be really important moving forward as we grow as a team.”
He said working last season with former professional hockey player Gary Steffes, who served as the team’s mental performance coach, was life-changing.
“Honestly, last year we went through kind of a culture shift,” Harrell said. “(Steffes) really helped our locker room mature and really put an emphasis on where our priorities should be and our mental game and living spiritually for the Lord.”
This summer, Harrell has served as a counselor at the Liberty Hockey Camps in the LaHaye Ice Center, working with 8-10-year-olds, 13-year-olds, and 16-year-olds in the three boys camp sessions.
“That was an amazing experience,” he said. “I really enjoyed pouring into those little kids and having the opportunity to give back.”
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer