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Saturday, May 18, 2024
Cameron Hughes

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

Hughes named captain for Wisconsin in 2017-'18

Senior forward Cameron Hughes had a 2016-’17 season filled with challenges both on and off the ice. Simply, Hughes had his hands full last year. Off the ice, Hughes was tasked with studying for difficult classes in a competitive major. On the ice, he was asked to aid in the turnaround of a team that had 12 wins total over his first two seasons, all while adjusting to a new coaching staff and system that was very different from what he was recruited to play in.

Adding in the struggles of watching his younger brother Ethan battling kidney cancer back home in Alberta, Canada, Hughes could have easily stepped away from hockey or school to focus on his family.

Instead, Hughes balanced everything on his plate. Not only was he able to perform in the classroom and on the ice, he went above and beyond, demonstrating the kind of leadership and dedication to the program that head coach Tony Granato and his teammates felt was deserving of the role of captain.

“It is really exciting. It is [an honor] coming from the coaches and the players,” Hughes said this summer. “It is a role I was in a little bit [in 2016], and it will expand.”

With forward Luke Kunin, last year’s captain and top scorer, leaving for the pros in the Minnesota Wild organization, Hughes will be relied on much more this season to get to the net and provide a strong offensive presence. Despite the team’s need for offense, however, Hughes prides himself on playing a complete, two-way game, similar to Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews — the player he chose his no. 19 jersey to honor.

Not only does Hughes expect himself to continue to be an important two way player for Wisconsin, he now puts pressure on himself to lead both by example and be a vocal leader. To Hughes, being vocal isn’t necessarily giving the most iconic speeches, but, instead, it’s letting people know that hard work and dedication is the key to Wisconsin improvement.

“[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 integrated lessons from both Kunin and now-graduated Wisconsin captains Eddie Wittchow and Kevin Schulze into his leadership style.

“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.”

Ready to get stronger both on and off the ice, Hughes is anxious to lead the Badgers to a season that will be both exciting and challenging.

“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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