Kevin Gould will wear the captain’s C for the Fort Erie Meteors this season. Photo by: FULL XPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHY.
For the first time in more than a decade, there won’t be a Passero on the ice for the Fort Erie Meteors this season.
From current coach/general manager Nik Passero, to other family members Anthony, Mac and Drew, the Meteors had a Passero skating for them since 2008/09 season when Nik made his junior debut.
“For the longest time, maybe going back 10 years, it’s been a Passero in a leadership group, whether it’s been as captain or assistant,” Nik Passero said. “It’s been a Passero for 10 years so that’s going to be different.”
With no Passeros coming down the pipeline at the moment, Nik Passero had to look outside the family lineage to comprise the leadership group for the 2021/22 version of the Meteors.
Moncton native Kevin Gould will wear the captain’s C this season. Assistants Josh DiFrancesco, Marcus Regina, Tyler Decoff and Mike Angrilli will rotate based on home or road games.
Nik Passero is convinced the new leadership group is up to the task.
“I think it’s more about our traditions and our values that move forward,” he said. “The guys before, Marco Lariccia and Drew Passero, did a good job of showing the guys the way and I have full confidence in this group.”
Nik Passero has no problem with an import as captain.
“I don’t think it really matter where you’re from. Maybe being a billet and being so locked in here, it may be a better thing. He’s got one focus, and that’s this team. Maybe that can help him,” he said.
Gould, a 19-year-old winger, joined the Meteors last season after three years with the Notre Dame Hounds in Saskatchewan.
“He’s just a mature kid who wants to get to the next level and guys can look up to,” Nik Passero said. “I think he’ll be more of a leader by show. He’s not a super loud, rah-rah guy, but I don’t think that’s really necessary with this group.”
Gould is ready to assume the responsibilities that come with being captain.
“All of us are leaders in this room, it’s not just me, we’re all playing a part and pulling their own weight leading by example,” he said. “He wanted me to set an example for the younger guys. I was a rookie (in this league) last year and I looked up to my captains so he wants to follow in their footsteps and show them what it’s like to play junior.”
Gould feels it is crucial veterans take the time to show the younger players the ropes.
“It’s huge,” he said. “It can be intimidating as a new player coming into a new team and a new league so we’re trying to make them feel right at home, get them involved in the junior environment and with the team.
“Everybody is close with everybody. It’s a tight environment with a good group of guys.”
Nik Passero plans to give the leadership group plenty of responsibilities.
“They will be very hands on with pretty much everything,” he said. “I’m going to have a lot of conversations weekly about where we are going and what we’re doing. I’ll rely on them, they will be the heartbeat in the room, they’ll be the liaison between the coaching room and the lockeroom.
“I always liked being a leader and having my handprints on things and I think I’ll give these guys the best opportunity to do that.”
Nik Passero has seen how important peer pressure can be in a locker room.
“If it’s the coaches every time, we’re going to get shut out at some point. I think coming from other voices — we have a pretty diverse group — so I think that will help as well and they’re older. They’re all 19-20 and that’s another thing Fort Erie hasn’t always had. We had a lot of young leaders who get thrust into this maybe they weren’t ready for. That will be huge.”
The Meteors have participated in tournaments in Pelham and Niagara Falls the last couple of weeks and Nik Passero is looking forward to the regular season opener Saturday, Sept. 25 versus the St. Catharines Falcons. Before that, there are exhibition games Saturday, Sept. 11 at home versus Thorold and a road game Friday, Sept. 17 at Pelham.
“We have seven guys at OHL camps and I’m hoping they give it their best and I never see them again,” Nik Passero said. “That’s what we’re here for. If and when those guys return, we’re going to be a pretty deep team. We’re not really young and we’re not older either so that’s exciting.”
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