Hectic, overwhelming, exciting, honored.
It started with a trip to Switzerland for the Spengler Cup, where Carrick was one of the youngest players on a Team Canada squad that won the historical invitational tournament in Davos.
After four games with Team Canada he returned home to the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, and found out he was headed to the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic later this month in Syracuse, New York.
“I didn’t really expect any of this,” Carrick said in a phone interview last week. “It’s all been a really hectic time, but exciting. I wasn’t really planning for any of this. I’m just honored, really that’s probably the best way to put it.”
These are the types of building blocks Carrick, 21, can use as he works his way up the depth chart in the Hurricanes organization.
During his rookie season with Charlotte he was good, but not great. He had 32 points in 76 games, but his -19 rating was concerning as he adjusted to defensive responsibilities in the AHL.
Carrick’s defensive prowess improved entering his sophomore season, while his offensive game has flourished beyond expectations. Through 35 games he has already matched his seven goals from last season, while he has dished out 16 assists for 23 points.
That drew the attention of Team Canada’s management team for the Spengler Cup. Traditionally a tournament for older AHL players and Canadians now pursuing their craft in Europe, Team Canada’s management staff thought the 21-year-old could provide a nice spark from the blue line.
“I got the phone call two or three days before the tournament began,” Carrick said. “I didn’t know much about it, but I did my research and saw there was some neat history there. It was a great experience for me.
“Any time you get to wear the Canadian flag, you can’t say no to that,” he continued. “It’s not the most publicized tournament back home, but it’s something that was really special. When you represent your country and you win? Nothing like it, right?”
Canada won all four games during the tournament, including a 4-3 victory against HC Lugano in the title game on New Year’s Eve. Carrick scored a goal and finished +1 in the tournament.
Carrick said the Spengler Cup, which is played on international ice, was a bit of an adjustment. But it only helped his confidence heading into the second half of the season.
He said he is focused on being better in his defensive zone, continuing to build an “NHL body” so that he can be a legitimate call-up option for the Hurricanes.
He is also been getting used to 3-on-3, which will take center stage at the All-Star Game.
Like the NHL All-Star Game, the AHL All-Star Classic will be a divisional tournament. Unlike the NHL’s version, the AHL game will feature six round robin games that are played both 4-on-4 and 3-on-3, while there will be a final championship game between the teams with the best records.
“I don’t really understand how it works completely,” Carrick said. “But it’ll be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
Just add it to the list of things filed under hectic and exciting during Carrick’s second professional season.
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