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Hometown player realizes dream by being named team captain

Thu., Sept. 30, 2010, midnight


The life that couldn’t get much better did on Wednesday.

That’s when the Spokane Chiefs announced that hometown standout Tyler Johnson is the new captain.

“It’s pretty special,” Johnson said after practice. “It’s something I’ve always dreamt about. Now that it’s actually happened, it’s still setting in. I’ve always tried to be a leader. Now that I’m recognized as one, it really touches home for me. I can’t believe it.”

Johnson, 20, was an alternate captain last year for defenseman Jared Cowen. However, Cowen is still in training camp with the Ottawa Senators.

“Whether I have a C or not, I’d act the same way,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t change things in my perspective, I’m just going to try to be the best player I can.”

Linemate and fellow 20-year-old Levko Koper is the alternate captain. The other two A’s change from game to game.

“You can’t have enough leaders and we’re trying to get everyone involved and take the bull by the horns,” coach Don Nachbaur said.

Koper was captain for the season opener at Tri-City on Saturday as Johnson missed the game because of an injury suffered at Minnesota’s training camp. It’s the first game in four seasons he missed because of an injury.

“All leaders need … credibility,” Nachbaur said. “That comes from doing it yourself, and that is why these players are so important for us, they do the right things. They have Memorial Cup rings and they know what it takes to win, and that is part of carrying the new torch and passing that knowledge on to the young players, both off the ice and in the games.”

Johnson, a native of Spokane, also earned a gold medal with Team USA at the World Junior Championships in January.

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