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The 'Heart and soul'

Captain Gannarelli is the Ice Hawks leader

March 5, 2009
Matt Mullally

Rugby Junior Gold hockey coach Jay McClintock Jr. says the team is quite different when No. 4 is in the lineup.

He's referring to senior captain Daniel Gannarelli.

"He plays with such intensity and determination that he is a difference maker on the ice,' McClintock said. "He's the heart and soul of the team.'

Unfortunately, it's also that no fear mentality that's gotten Gannarelli on the injured list throughout his three seasons on the Junior Gold.

He missed a handful of games his sophomore season; several more to a hip pointer last year; and this season, an injured quad muscle has kept him off the ice for nearly half the season.

It's been frustrating not to be in the lineup, Gannarelli admits, especially in his final season. And he knows his aggressive style has contributed in part to his hard luck.

"It's a contact sport, and I don't back down to it,' Daniel said, "but the coaches are working with me to avoid it when I can."

Gannarelli was the overwhelmingly pick by his teammates at the beginning of the season to be team captain.

"No one gives as much effort on the ice as Daniel, whether it's games or practice,' McClintock said. "And his teammates know that."

"I like the competitiveness of the game, whether it's a one-on-one in practice or going for a loose puck with an opponent in a game; it's about winning battles on the ice."

His offensive stats are down this season due to his injuries, but it's the little things which make him invaluable. McClintock says Gannarelli read the play so well, gets in the right position to make a play and does not forget about his defensive zone responsibilities.

"Daniel is also such an unselfish player, often making a pass rather than shooting the puck,' McClintock said.

His personal stats take a back seat to team success.

The Ice Hawks will be heading to the N.D. Junior Gold state tournament with arguably their best chance of winning the program's first state title.

A state title is certainly on the mind of Gannarelli and his teammates. However, they know that goal can't be reached without three strong games.

"We've really ratcheted up the intensity in practice (recently). We know this is the time we have to e playing our best hockey,' he said.

And you can bet Gannarelli will lead the way.



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