Warren Carter came to the Flint Jr. Generals last season looking to advance his hockey career to the next level - whatever and wherever that may be.
He had played the 2009-10 season with the Tri-City Icehawks of the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League and the year before that in Canada.
Jr. Generals head coach Jeff Worlton coached Carter with the Icehawks and knew Carter would be a great fit in Flint, so he took Carter in the 2010 North American 3 Hockey League (then the Central States Hockey League) draft.
“Jeff knew my game and how I played,” noted Carter, a 20-year-old from Brookfield, Wis. “And I knew this league was the most logical next step in my career. It’s a league that gets scouted and now that the North American Hockey League has taken over, having them attached to it I think makes kids coming out of high school want to play here. I think, too, that a lot of guys are getting excited with the four new teams coming in next year.”
Carter tallied 22 goals and 49 points last year and also amassed 115 penalty minutes. He said he plays a power forward-type game even though he stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 150 pounds.
“I’ve always used my size to my advantage and turned what some might see as a negative into a positive,” Carter said. “I try and use my speed as much as I can. I mean, they can’t hit me if they can’t catch me. Really, I just do whatever it takes to help the team get going.”
Being away from home for the third straight season was a situation Carter adapted to rather quickly.
“I’d done it before and last year was fine and easy for me,” said Carter. “The Jr. Generals treat you like family.”
In 2010-11, Flint finished in ninth place in the NA3HL standings, barely missing out on the Hurster Cup playoffs.
“We started out very slow and only had one returning player,” explained Carter. “Once we got going, that’s when we all started getting our points, including myself.”
Next year will be a different story, according to Carter, who played in the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., last February.
“I definitely feel I can be one of the leaders on this team next year,” said Carter. “I’ve always been a lead by example-type player, but if something needs to be said, I can do that, too. I think we can definitely be a top three team next year.”
Individually, Carter has already talked to several Division III schools and hopes to continue hockey at that level after next season.
“That’s the plan,” said Carter. “We’ll see what happens.”
NA3HL ALUMNI WIN ROYAL BANK CUP
Maurice Alvarez (Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks, 2008-2009) and Ted Pletsch (Michigan Ice Dogs, 2007-2008) won the Royal Bank Cup earlier this month with the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Central Junior Hockey League.
The Royal Bank Cup signifies the Tier II national championship in Canada.
Alvarez will attend and play hockey starting next year at Army, while Pletsch will be doing the same at Bowling Green.
JR. BLUES’ QUILLMAN TENDERS WITH JACKALOPES
St. Louis defenseman Will Quillman has signed a tender to play for the Odessa Jackalopes of the NAHL next season.
Quillman tallied 11 assists and 12 points in 44 regular season games this past year for the Jr. Blues.
“Will was a rookie this past season, but quickly became a 'go-to' blueliner and played in every situation,” Jr. Blues head coach J.P. Beilsten said. “Will's great skating ability and puck decisions never put us in a bad spot. I think he will be a very successful player at many levels to come.”
“Billy was an indispensable asset for us in many different situations playing the crucial remaining minutes in a period or penalty kills,” added Jr. Blues assistant coach Ken Daleo. “Throughout the season, his physical presence grew along with his overall vision on the ice. I'm excited to see Billy moving to the next level.”
Quillman is the third Jr. Blues skater to sign a tender for next season, joining forwards Jamie DeMarco (Kenai River Brown Bears) and Dominic Valencia (St. Louis Bandits).
FORMER ST. LOUIS STAR NAMED ACHA’S BEST
Former St. Louis forward Cory Spradling (2006-2007) has been named the ACHA Player of the Year after a 35-goal, 78-point senior season at Lindenwood University.
Spradling also recorded a plus-54 plus-minus rating and three hat tricks this year. He also became his school's all-time leader in both goals and total points.
Lindenwood went 32-4 overall this season and finished second at the ACHA Division I National Tournament, where Spradling was named to the All-Tournament Team.
JETS INK FIRST TENDER FOR NEXT YEAR
The Metro Jets have signed local goalie Connor Hellebuyck to their first of two tenders for the 2011-2012 season.
Hellebuyck played four years for Walled Lake Northern High School and also had successful stints in the Michigan Developmental Hockey League and with Team Michigan this spring.
“We are pleased to have signed Connor to a tender,” Metro coach Jason Cirone said. “He's a young man we pursued last year, so it’s nice to have him this year. He's a big goalie that competes on every puck, but more importantly, he's a quality person who will improve our team both on and off the ice.”
“When I was tendered, I saw a team that has heavily improved since last year and a stable place to play,” said Hellebuyck who will turn 18 on May 19. “My on-ice training will be greatly improved with Jason and (goaltending coach) Randy (Wilson) as coaches. I know the NA3HL is a good place to get experience. The NAHL can pick up players from the league and team which is always great when looking for a future in juniors and hockey.
“My expectations for next season would be to improve greatly and pursue a future in junior hockey and someday college hockey. The coaching is great here and that’s key for choosing a team.”
McPHERSON STEPS DOWN AS PEORIA GM
Darwin McPherson has stepped down as general manager of the Peoria Mustangs to take care of family needs, while Jean-Guy Trudel will be the new GM in addition to his head coaching duties and part ownership of the Mustangs.
Trudel played 14 years of professional hockey and has been with the Mustangs for the last three years, including last year’s role as co-head coach with Steve Ortman. He sees the transition as one that should be seamless.
“We made it to the final four last year and want nationals this year,” said Trudel. “When taking over last year with my good friend and co-coach Steve Ortman, our plan was to make our program resemble a college program, preparing players for an easier transition to reach their goal of playing hockey at a collegiate level. We are a serious program and want kids that are ready to give everything they got to make themselves better while becoming better men.”