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Wisconsin men’s hockey names 2016-17 captains

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Kunin, Besse and Hughes get the nod.

CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game
Luke Kunin in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 24, 2015
Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images

For the first time since the 1975-76 season, a sophomore will serve as a team captain for Wisconsin men’s hockey. Luke Kunin, a native of Chesterfield, Mo., the former St. Louis Blues U-16 player led the Badgers in goals scored (19) last season. Senior forward Grant Besse (33 points in 2015-16) and junior forward Cameron Hughes (26 points) were named alternate captains.

Kunin, a first-round draft pick (15th overall) of the Minnesota Wild, was the captain of the U.S. National Team Development Program’s U-18 Team in 2014-15. That team won gold at the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship and included other future first-round draft picks including Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk.

"With Luke, Cameron and Grant, we have three guys who have outstanding leadership qualities," new Badgers coach Tony Granato said. "They've done an outstanding job of setting the tone from a work-ethic standpoint so far, and I feel real confident in their leadership skills."

Besse, a 2013 fifth-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks, spent last season as an alternate captain. He has led the Badgers in points the past two seasons, tallying 22 points as a sophomore and 33 as a junior.

Hughes, a 2015 sixth-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins, was a highly touted recruit in 2014 and played a big role for the Badgers last year, finishing the season fourth in points.

Wisconsin is trying to bounce back from two straight losing campaigns. Granato, along with associate coaches Mark Osiecki and Don Granato,replaced fired Mike Eaves at the end of last season.