Wildcat hockey head coach Sean Hogan said from the beginning of training camp that the leadership of returning players is one of the team’s most potent strengths. He said a handful of players were capable of filling the team captain role previously held by Brian Slugocki for three years.
Last Friday morning, senior forward Ansel Ivens-Anderson was elected the team captain by votes from returning players and the overall selection of the coaching staff.
The pick for captain was based off of academic standing, previous experience in college hockey and the results from the players’ votes.
Ivens-Anderson, a political science major, has a near-perfect grade point average. He hails from the elite University of New Hampshire NCAA Division I squad.
“He definitely has great academics, was a winner in college hockey, and, at the end of the day, all the players look up to him, so it was an easy decision,” Hogan said.
Ivens-Anderson is fervently committed to hockey now, but the 24-year-old transferred to the UA with hopes of moving on from his playing days and prior struggles with the sport.
The new captain said the toughest and scariest moment of his career came six months after his high school graduation in 2007, when he was in a life-threatening car accident at 17.
Ivens-Anderson hit black ice while driving and crashed into a tree that put him in a coma for a day and a half. While he didn’t suffer any other significant injuries, his junior hockey season was cut short by four months, and scholarship talks from the likes of elite NCAA Division I programs at Ohio State, Michigan State, Colgate and Yale were terminated.
Still, UNH decided to take a chance on Ivens-Anderson because of his versatile ability to play both forward and defenseman. Meanwhile, he had already been accepted to the UA, and the first day of school was three weeks away.
However, he decided to attend UNH to continue pursuing hockey as a 19-year-old freshman.
“They were the only Hockey East school I was talking to, so it kind of came out of the dark a little bit,” Ivens-Anderson said. “For three years, I didn’t talk to them, but then it all just fell into place.”
After seeing little playing time at UNH, Ivens-Anderson developed a bacterial infection in his stomach.
It took six months to regain the 35 pounds he lost while recovering from the illness. Upon his return in the succeeding season, Ivens-Anderson suffered a concussion along with a broken foot.
“It just kind of wore me out,” he said.
In 2011, Ivens-Anderson decided to enroll at the UA because of the influence of his father, who attended graduate school here.
“When you stop doing something, you think it’s okay and it’ll be fine,” Ivens-Anderson said. “But a little bit of time goes by, and you find out that you really miss it and want to give it a shot again.”
Last season, Ivens-Anderson was able to stay healthy all 38 games for Arizona. He was tied for second on the team with 46 points, netting 22 goals and assisting 24.
Ivens-Anderson said he is the quiet type in the locker room who leads by example with his play on the ice.
“Ansel understands what it takes to win, and we’re behind him; we know that he is our captain and respect him,” senior forward Andrew Murmes said. “Our main goal is coming together as a team and winning, and Ansel’s going to lead us.”
—Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo