Hughes’ dedication, leadership earn him captaincy

Senior Cameron Hughes was selected this summer as Wisconsin's captain.

Image By: Drew Gilmore

For senior forward Cameron Hughes, the 2016-’17 season came with significant challenges both on and off the ice. Not only was the 20-year-old forward tasked with keeping his grades up in business classes and adjusting to a new coaching staff, but he was also a big part of helping to lead the turnaround of a team that won a total of 12 games over his first two seasons in Madison. But by no means was that all of what Hughes, last year’s alternate captain, had on his plate.

Back home in Edmonton, Alberta, Hughes’ younger brother, Ethan, was battling kidney cancer. Hughes, as a result, had to cope with the challenges of being a caring oldest brother while trying to stay focused on school and performing at a high level on the ice, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. 

After three seasons, Hughes’ dedication to the Wisconsin program has not gone unnoticed by the UW coaching staff or his teammates. In 2016-’17, he was named the Badgers’ most competitive player. And just weeks ago Hughes was awarded the prestigious role of captain for the 2017-’18 season.

“It is really exciting. It is (an honor) coming from the coaches and the players,” Hughes said. “It is a role I was in a little bit this year and it will expand for next year.”

With the departure of forward Luke Kunin—last year’s captain and top scorer—to the pros, Hughes and sophomore forward Trent Frederic will likely be the primary goal-scorers for the Badgers this season.

Still, despite the necessity for Hughes to produce on offense, the senior is focused on playing a complete, two-way game. Hughes hopes to model his play and leadership style after the player that he chose his no. 19 jersey to honor: Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews.

“(The coaches) said just keep doing the same things you are doing,” Hughes said. “I don’t have the best ra-ra speeches, but I lead by example.”

Hughes has also built on the lessons taught by former Badger captains during his tenure on the team, such as Kunin, Eddie Wittchow and Kevin Schulze.

“Learning from Luke was awesome. The way he conducted himself on the ice and off. I look to him a lot,” Hughes said. “Captains in the past like Eddie Wittchow and Kevin Schulze, they both led in their own ways.”

On the ice, Hughes hopes to get right down to business by getting stronger and improving his game. But he understands that his role on the current UW team is far more than just bettering himself. He’s also looking to lead the Badgers to even more success next season.

“We are looking forward to that first game to get back inside the Kohl Center,” Hughes said. “The schedule got released and we were all showing it to each other on our phones and getting really excited for the games. We are really eager and excited to get back in front of the fans and get another chance to do something special.”

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