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Carlo Comes Home

Bruins defenseman plays first game in native Colorado

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins /

DENVER - Brandon Carlo had just a few family members and friends in the Pepsi Center crowd on Sunday night.

A group of more than 50 people was in the crowd as Carlo and the Bruins earned a 2-0 shutout over his hometown team.

Carlo was born about an hour south of Denver in Colorado Springs, and watched the Avalanche growing up.

"Plenty of friends and family here," the 19-year-old said with a smile after the game. "We got a whole box and filled it up pretty easily and then looking around the crowd, there were people here who I didn't even know were coming, so pretty cool to have all of that support."

Prior to the game, Carlo had joked that his "Mom has become pretty much like a ticket manager throughout the Pepsi Center for this week."

His parents, Angie and Lenny, were in a suite watching the game with their two sons and daughter, in addition to many others, all there to support Carlo. They had a Boston Bruins banner hung up in the suite that was visible from the ice.

The game marked the first time Carlo had played at Pepsi Center in NHL action. His first time came years ago, when he was likely a squirt or a mite.

"Once or twice, we got to come in and play, but definitely not in front of much of a crowd," laughed Carlo.

"[I was] really young, just the parents in the stands still, so even then it was such a cool experience to play in a big building like this, but I feel like I'm getting pretty used to it by now."

Video: Carlo enjoys first game against hometown team

The game also marked Carlo's 16th in the NHL. He's acclimated himself well - so well that his bench boss doesn't have to give him any encouragement or help settle his nerves before a big night in front of a big crowd of supporters.

"No I didn't, not at all," Bruins coach Claude Julien had smiled before the game, when asked if he would have a conversation with Carlo. "I didn't even bother and I won't bother, either. He seems to handle these things pretty well, so I'll let him take care of business here."

Carlo's poise had been apparent through his first 15 games, and that certainly carried into Game No. 16.

He did take a moment, though, during warmups, to appreciate the irony. He has a distinct memory from the first Avalanche game he attended when he was younger - he noticed Rob Blake during warmups, and immediately began looking to him as a role model.

"The first game I ever went to, I just saw him in warmups and he just had a certain presence about him that I admired and he just stuck out like a sore thumb to me, so after that, I kind of just fell in love with his game and the way he played and the kind of person he was off the ice, too," said Carlo.

Just like with Carlo's own personal experience, who knows? There could have been a young boy from Colorado watching during warmups, and dreaming about one day playing in the NHL.

The young defenseman has certainly begun to craft his own game and persona, on and off the ice. His poise has been impressive.

"I just try to handle myself and be calm with the puck out there," said Carlo. "I feel like a big part of that has been [the coaches] expressing to me that it's OK to make mistakes in my game, so that's made it a little more easy-going out there.

"But definitely just try and make the hard plays, the right plays, and starting to follow up the play a little bit more and just kind of play within myself and not outside of my game."

Carlo's easy-going nature is likely what led to so many supporters who are proud to see him succeed.

The crowd of family and friends at the game was exciting, but there are a few extra supporters who will be glad to see him as well, with the Bruins sticking around Colorado for a few days after the game.

"It'll be pretty cool, might be able to get home [on Monday] and say hi to my puppies and things like that," he smiled. "So, I'm looking forward to that."

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