MONTREAL - Mathieu Carle had a dream when he put on his first pair of skates as a kid. It finally came true.
While the result wasn’t what he’d imagined growing up in Gatineau, Carle became a Montreal Canadien on Tuesday night. Eighteen shifts and 12:55 minutes of ice time later, Carle was a plus-1 on the evening and he blocked a pair of shots.
“I’ve waited for this moment for as long as I can remember,” said Carle. “It was an amazing experience and something I will never forget, but it isn’t quite the same thing when you don’t get the win. I tried all I could to help the team and just worked as hard I could out there.”
Drafted in the third round, 53rd overall by the Canadiens in 2006, Carle played three years of junior in the QMJHL before joining the Bulldogs in 2007-08. Carle earned his call up to the big leagues with his solid play on the farm through 11 games this season.
“I was nervous at the start of the game, but I managed to settle down pretty fast,” admitted the 22-year-old of his NHL debut. “I also had a nick in my skates so I had to get them sharpened. The nerves came back in the third period because I just wanted to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes.”
That effort didn’t go unnoticed by his veteran teammates on the blue line.
“I think he looked good, really good,” said Jaroslav Spacek. “It’s not easy for a young guy to come up during the season and play his first game like that. He came in to help us out with [Hal] Gill out of the lineup and he stepped up for us. I remember he had a good training camp with us and it’s good for him to get that first one out of the way.”
Carle has his fingers crossed that his first game marks only the beginning of his NHL career. Getting the chance to play crucial minutes in the later stages of the third period with the Habs down by a goal is something the young rearguard hopes to build on.
“It was definitely a confidence booster,” offered the young blue-liner. “I’ve been concentrating on getting the job done in my own zone and trying not to make any mistakes leading the attack. I’m hoping to do better in the next one.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.
The Numbers Game - Nov. 3, 2009 The Voice of the Fans