Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Andrew Carroll Hasn't Changed a Bit

If you had any opportunity to talk to or get to know former Bulldog Andrew Carroll during his time at UMD, you'd know he was a pretty unique guy.

He was the classic "first one on for practice and the last one off" player, to the point where I remember meeting the team for a road trip at the DECC and having to wait for him to get off the ice after practice ended.

And it wasn't an act. Dude loves the game to the point where you wonder exactly how much time in an average day for him isn't consumed by hockey.

It's the kind of appreciation and reverence for the sport that tends to rub off on people, mainly because it's so blatantly obvious that it isn't an act.

Frankly, if it was, Carroll would totally be in the wrong profession, because he'd have to have Oscar ability to act like this!

Now in the ECHL with the Charlotte Checkers, Carroll was the subject of a recent feature. No one who knows him even a little bit should be surprised by its contents.

"To be honest, I don't know what else I'd be doing if I wasn't playing hockey. I don't need money. It's not an issue. You get your hockey equipment for free."

... "I can't imagine another team in our league getting more bang for their buck than we're getting out of him," said Checkers coach Derek Wilkinson. "He's got more determination than anyone on the ice. He's a kid who will make the most out of every second he has. There's no one who would have projected him to do what he's doing. He's getting rewarded for all his hard work."

And yet, Carroll keeps paying out. There's a group of children who hang around the Checkers' apartment complex in Charlotte. Carroll often stops to play with them, and helps them scrounge up tickets for games.

Over the Christmas break, a handful of kids were waiting to take the Checkers' ice after some players were done skating. Carroll finished his work, gathered the youngsters together and went at it three-on-three for 90 minutes.

"I know when I was that age, if I skated with someone who was older, it was a joy for me," Carroll said. "To see the joy on their faces, it feels good helping them out.

... The Hartford Wolf Pack thought Carroll would be a nice short-term addition to its mix earlier this season, and when Wilkinson gave the news to Carroll his response was predictable.

"He was just dead silent," the coach recalled. Wilkinson started to explain how his AHL contract would work. Carroll stopped him short.

"He said there's no need to pay me. I just want to go," Wilkinson said. "'Just give me a jersey. He's got no sense of entitlement whatsoever. He's a kid you want to root for."

With character like this, who wouldn't want Andrew Carroll around?

(Tap of the stick: Rink and Run)

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