Niko Montrose believes this could be the year.
The senior forward and captain sees this season as a strong opportunity for the Grand Ledge/Fowlerville hockey team to make program history and capture its first regional title.
And he’s trying to do his part to make that possible.
“I’m just trying to be a leader out there and set the tempo for everybody and for the new kids to know what they have to live up to in the following years in the program,” said Montrose, who is a two-time all-league selection and was a Division 1 second team all-state selection a year ago.
Montrose has succeeded in setting the tone and thrived on both ends of the ice while putting Grand Ledge/Fowlerville in position to surpass its league win total from last season. He has sparked a high-powered offense and entered Saturday with 33 points (18 goals, 15 assists) through 10 games.
“It’s just my teammates,” Montrose said of his early offensive success. “Everybody has stepped up this year. There’s no way I would have as many points as I have this year if my teammates didn’t step up. They’ve been assisting me like crazy, and they have been behind me. Every single game this year, they have had my back.”
And he’s had their back and been willing to fill in where needed in order for Grand Ledge/Fowlerville, which entered Saturday with a 6-4 record and 4-2 CAAC mark, to reach its goals.
That’s meant Montrose has spent some time on defense – the position he played for much of his youth – instead of forward for the betterment of the team.
“He doesn’t get it, but for us it’s incredible to have a person and a player that can play both sides and also bring offense from the blue line when need be and also tighten up and play straight defense when it is needed as well,” said Grand Ledge/Fowlerville coach Randy Montrose, who is Niko’s uncle. “It’s very nice to have a player like that. He’s a humble kid, and it’s not about the scoring for him. It’s about the advancement for the team.”
The selfless approach displayed by Niko Montrose has rubbed off on teammates, who have followed his lead as they try to help Grand Ledge/Fowlerville accomplish a program first.
“He’s a tremendous asset, there’s no doubt about it,” Coach Montrose said. “From a pure scoring perspective, there’s probably been a few games where he could have got a couple more points, but that’s not his MO. His MO is he wants to win. He is becoming a better player and more complete player.”
“Everybody on our team looks up to him. They realize that he’s a very good player, and they try to emulate what he’s like at certain times. They are buying in to what he is, and they are trying to be more like him. Distribution of the puck, going to the net and doing all the little things right has been my whole key with him, and he’s getting better and better at it.”