MINNEAPOLIS- The University of Minnesota men's hockey team announced Monday that senior forward Nate Condon and junior forward Kyle Rau have been named captains for the 2013-2014 season.
"I'm excited for both Nate and Kyle to serve as captains this season," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said in a release. "They're both deserving of this honor, and they are both the kind of player you want in this role. They're good students, they're hard workers on and off the ice, and they are great representatives of our hockey program and the University of Minnesota."
The duo are the 157th and 158th players in team history to wear a letter.
Condon, who posted a career-high 31 points (12 G - 19 A) last season, is the first Wisconsin native on the Gophers to wear the "C." The Wassau, WI native has played in 117 of 118 games during his first three seasons and is a 2008 seventh round pick by the Colorado Avalanche.
Rau, meanwhile, is Minnesota's top returning scorer from last year's WCHA co-regular season champion. The 20 year-old, a 2011 third round pick by the Florida Panthers, scored 40 points (15 G- 25 A) in 40 games as a sophomore and the team was successful when he did. In the 26 games that Rau had at least one point, the Gophers were 23-2-1.
It's an interesting year for Minnesota as the team enters this season without all four of its letter wearers from 2012-2013. Last year's captain Zach Budish signed a pro contract with the Nashville Predators following the Gophers' first round loss to eventual national champion Yale. Alternate captains Seth Helgeson, Nick Bjugstad and Erik Haula (who received an "A" in November) signed with the Albany Devils (AHL), Florida Panthers and Minnesota Wild, respectively.
All except Helgeson still had eligibility remaining.
Neither Condon nor Rau wore a letter last year, which may be one reason why the two are the first co-captains since Ryan Flynn and Tony Lucia in 2008-2009. Both balance each other well and understand being a leader.
"When you look back at the captains who have come through this program, there are so many great players and leaders, and to be included in that group means a lot to me. It's exciting to say the least especially for a kid who grew up in Minnesota," said Rau, an Eden Prairie, MN native "It's a huge honor coming from our team and coaching staff."
Alternate captains have yet to be named and requests for that were not returned. Minnesota opens the 2013-2014 season at Mariucci Arena October 11th with the Ice Breaker tournament.
You can follow Nate on Twitter @gopherstate.