By the time a player reaches the AHL or NHL, they have already achieved a lot in their careers and made plenty of memories along the way. Each week, we’ll sit down with one of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and talk about some of the memorable “firsts” they’ve had during their careers, ranging from their first time on skates to their first goal as a pro.
Player: Mike Carman
Birthplace: Apple Valley, Minn.
Years pro: 4
First time on skates: “I was about 3-years-old and on the ice for between periods of my dad’s college alumni game. I was scared of the Zamboni and didn’t stay out there long.”
First team: “When we lived in England, I played for the Spitfires, an under-12 team. I was 7. Our coach was Canadian, from Ontario, so maybe we were named after the Windsor Spitfires.”
First coach that influenced you: “My dad (Tom). He played through college and he got me on skates and coached me all the way up to bantam. He had a lot to do with my growth and development.”
First goal that you remember: “When I was playing in England, I had a good “inside outside” move. I’d fake inside then drive wide around the D. I scored a lot that way when I was younger. My coach would always be yelling to me ‘inside out, inside out.’”
First time you won anything in hockey: “We won our league in England that year. I got off to a good start over there, I guess.”
First time hockey took you away from home: “When I went to play for the U.S. National team in Ann Arbor (Michigan). I left in my junior year of high school and it was tough. High school hockey is big back home in Minnesota and it wasn’t an easy decision to leave. But it was the right one for my career and I don’t regret it at all. I wouldn’t be playing today if it wasn’t for that.”
First pro contract: “It was pretty cool. I signed a few days after my senior season ended. It was a whirlwind. You end your college career and you’re pretty sad about it, then all of a sudden your agent calls saying you’re going to sign a contract. It gets faxed over, you sign it and play in the AHL. I signed with the Colorado Avalanche and played in Lake Erie less than a week after my college career was done.”
First time you faced adversity in your hockey career: “My freshman year in high school I started out on the junior varsity then moved up to varsity. Ten games later, I shattered my elbow and was done for the year. Missed our state tournament. The was the first major injury of my career with rehab and surgeries. It actually helped because I broke my leg the next year, so I was prepared for it.”
— Tom Venesky