While the roster is far from set, we’re running a new feature giving you, the fans, an opportunity to get to know players that we could see suiting up for Stockton this season or in future seasons.
Today we focus on a true POWER forward (and a player freshly assigned to Stockton) in Austin Carroll.
Carroll joins the professional ranks as a former seventh-round pick of the Calgary Flames in 2014.
The winger played his entire junior career with the Victoria Royals of the WHL, with whom he scored 196 points (95 goals, 101 assists) and earned 470 penalty minutes in 268 career games.
The 21-year-old forward put together a career season 2014-15 in Victoria, in which he garnered career highs in goals (38), assists (39), points (77) and plus-minus (23). He also led his team in penalty minutes with 124, while his goal and point totals topped the team charts as well.
Those totals put him in the upper echelon of the league that year with multiple former first and second-rounders – a place not many 184-overall picks find themselves.
At 6’3”, 216lbs., Carroll is also no stranger to physical competition and thrives in that aspect of the game. He has no problem mixing it up and throwing hands when necessary.
Here’s a question for any of the former Stockton Thunder fans reading this: Do you remember how dominant Klarc Wilson looked last year when he threw his gloves off and challenged someone?
Well he and Carroll went at it in juniors back in 2014, and while Wilson certainly held his own, showing that familiar toughness we got to know and love, Carroll scored the win in the end.
Not only can Carroll light up a scoreboard, as evidenced by his stats from his last year in the WHL, but he can also provide that toughness and compete level that teams at every tier of hockey cherish.
What sets him apart is that he is that combination of size, mean-streak and scoring touch that every franchise in the NHL has valued for decades now.
Just look at the highlights from this game, in which he scores a hat trick against the Vancouver Giants.
You’ll notice his 3 goals are all scored in very different ways.
The first comes on a play where he finds the open space in the slot, gets himself into a shooting position and finishes a one-timer past the goaltender. The second comes on a 2-on-1 rush where Carroll makes a beautiful backhand pass across the ice, pushes forward towards the net and finishes the return pass on the give-n-go while outskating the backcheckers.
The third goal was arguably the most impressive because for the entire play it’s a 2-on-5 in the offensive zone and Carroll’s individual effort to drive the net and not give up on the puck when he easily could have earns him a dirty goal.
But hey, they all look the same on the scoresheet, right?
Most goals don’t come in the form of a blueline snipe or a tic-tac-toe passing play. Most come just like that third one – not giving up on second and third chances, keeping the legs going and driving the net hard.
Carroll scoring the hat trick in that fashion shows he has a skill set that allows him to not just be a physical presence on the ice, but also a versatile goalscorer that can strike from any position.
Those are the types of plays that make Austin Carroll appear to be poised for a solid rookie season in Stockton with the Heat and probably even a fan favorite.
Don’t just take our word for it. We asked the Victoria Royals and they had this to say:
— Victoria Royals (@victoriaroyals) September 26, 2015