Former Beaver Valley Nitehawks captain, Archie McKinnon, will lead the Adrian College Bulldogs into the 2017-18 NCAA season as their new team captain.
The Rossland native was named the Bulldogs captain last month following a banner season for the Michigan college hockey team, which came one game shy of an NCAA Div. III national championship.
“I felt pretty honoured actually,” said McKinnon. “And surprised a little bit that they’d get somebody all the way from BC. It reminds me of my time in Beaver Valley.”
McKinnon, who captained the Nitehawks to the 2014 KIJHL, Cyclone, and Keystone Cup Championships, is in his senior year of a BaEd degree in Mathematics, and has played in 67 games over three seasons for the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) team.
McKinnon secured a scholarship to Adrian College after a three-year run with Beaver Valley culminated in the Western Canadian championship and also his best season (4-35-39), leading all Nitehawks’ defencemen in scoring.
McKinnon’s dominating presence and hard work on the ice combined with an impeccable character off the ice garnered respect and admiration from his teammates, coaches, opponents, and fans. His time as captain of the Nitehawks under head coach and GM Terry Jones was instrumental in preparing the 24-year-old Dean’s list student for his new leadership role.
“Just the experience of being with the guys, and having a good supporting cast (in B.V.), as well, what I’d gone through my first three years, we’re all on the same page, and we know what it’s going to take (to win).”
The first year at Adrian was a feeling out process for the new recruit who played in just seven games. But since then he has been a regular on the backend playing in all 30 games in 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns. The latter was the Bulldogs best in its history, where the Michigan team won a record 33 victories with just three losses and an ACHA National semifinals appearance.
“It (the first year) was tough getting on the plane, but now it’s unreal, I can’t wait to go back. I’ve had a great time, they treat us very well.”
Adrian College captured the Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League regular-season title with a 15-1 league slate, won all 19 of its contests on home-ice and finished fourth in the ACHA national rankings. Following the loss in the Nationals semifinal, Adrian head coach Gary Astalos approached a number of Bulldog players who recommended McKinnon as their choice to lead the pack.
“Archie is a lead-by-example type of person,” said Astalos in a release. “He is always working hard and always puts the team first; we couldn’t be happier to have him lead our club next season.”
McKinnon, a six-foot-five, 225-pound blue-liner, is of the steady, stay-at-home variety, and his big body and extensive reach make it difficult for attacking forwards to penetrate the zone. His looming presence is invaluable on the team penalty kill, however, when in B.V., he also proved an immovable force on the power play, playing forward and wreaking havoc in front of opposing goaltenders.
For the upcoming season, McKinnon will lead a group that is scheduled to return 22 student-athletes off last year’s squad. And while his experience as captain with the Nitehawks will serve him well, there will be some differences in his approach to next year’s team.
“I have to become a little more vocal in the room because I didn’t grow up with any of these guys,” said McKinnon. “But also show them and try to lead by example.”
McKinnon, who returned home for the summer, will return to Adrian in the middle of August to prepare and train for the upcoming season. Much like he did in Beaver Valley, the college senior looks to lead the Bulldogs to the ultimate prize, and hoist another championship trophy towards the rafters.
“That was the furthest we made it in program’s history and a huge learning experience for all the guys,” said McKinnon. “We have a good core group for next year … so I expect to be better than last year.
“We all hope to win the final game of our season, that’s the end goal.”