Meteors name Masterson captain
The Fort Erie Meteors announced their leadership group this week: From left, RJ Schmidt, former captain Josh DiFrancesco, Rylan Masterson, Kyle Adamo. SUBMITTED PHOTO.
Fort Erie Meteors general manager/coach Nik Passero has zero doubt Rylan Masterson is the perfect choice to captain the team this season.
“He’s a great leader and I think he plays the game the right way,” Passero said. “He’s been here almost four years. His whole 15-year-old year during COVID he was here every day. Knows how the organization works inside and out.
“He has my undivided trust as a hockey player and a human being and we’re really proud of the person he is.”
Passero named Masterson captain along with Kyle Adamo and RJ Schmidt as assistants at a team meeting this week. Former captain Josh DiFrancesco presented the players with their jerseys.
Masterson is honoured to wear the C.
“It means a lot. They run a great program. I love every single person in this organization. It means a lot to wear the C for them and represent the organization,” Masterson said.
Masterson said he had an inkling he might be in line for a leadership role this season.
“My exit meeting last year they kind of gave me a hint but I didn’t really put my main focus on it, I just let it happen,” he said. “I wasn’t going to be mad either way. They know what they’re doing. They run a good organization and are good coaches so whatever the decision was, I would have been happy.”
Passero admitted the coaching staff ask much of their leadership group.
“We are very demanding and I think he knows what is expected of the team and the leadership so that’s a big part of it,” Passero said. “Our leadership group last year was awesome so I’m hoping these guys learned a lot. As demanding as Anthony (assistant coach Anthony Passero) and I are on our organization they have to, in the lockeroom, lead that for us. I think this group is ready to do that.”
Masterson, an 18-year-old Niagara Falls native, is a tough, stay-at-home defenceman who also flashes moments of offensive potential. He has had a penchant in the past for crossing the line when it comes to physical play but reigned that in last season and became one of the Meteors most important contributors.
“I think he’s come a long way in the last year, I know he has,” Passero said. “He has to toe that line but in my opinion he can’t shy away from that line either, because it doesn’t make him the player that he is.
“He’s come a long way with his emotions but his game is as good as ever.”
Masterson, the son of former Niagara Falls Canuck Derrek Masterson and grandson of legendary Canucks coach and owner Terry Masterson, is well aware how important it is to lead by example now that he is wearing the C.
“Definitely the start to my last season was not good at all. I was on a rampage or whatever but the second half I was composed and started getting points. I’m going to play like that to the best of my ability and stay focused and calm and try and get a few more goals and assists,” he said.
Masterson feels the best way for him to lead is to use his authority as captain only when necessary.
“Everyone is going to do their thing. What I think a captain should do is when it comes down to a close game, just motivate the team, or if guys go at it, step in and make sure it stops right there, right now. Just watch out for certain things and make sure the team is running good and everyone is getting along.”
Adamo is a 19-year-old Fort Erie native who blossomed into one of the team’s top forwards.
“He was probably one of the best overall hockey players we have had here,” Passero said. “He had 18 goals and was hurt for six weeks. I can see him being up there for player of the year.”
Schmidt, an 18-year-old native of Newmarket, emerged as a solid defender in his first season with the Mets.
“RJ is an under-the-radar leader, a good vocal leader who has a good pulse on the room. Everyone seems to like him and we’re happy to have him back. He’s earned it,” Passero said.
The Meteors open the season Friday, Sept. 15 at Port Colborne before hosting the St. Catharines Falcons in their home opener the next night.
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