I’m trying to continue that pace and work ethic. I’m not going to try and be anything I’m not and just keep it to my skills and work every day and hopefully get a shot. - Austin Carroll
CALGARY, AB -- Austin Carroll now knows what it’s like to be on the other side of hulking defenceman and fellow Calgary Flames prospect Keegan Kanzig’s commanding physical presence.
In a tilt on Jan. 17 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, Carroll’s Victoria Royals took on Kanzig’s Calgary Hitmen for the first time since the two teams swung a deal that brought the monstrous 6-foot-6, 242-pound blueliner to Cow Town on Nov. 20.
“We traded him here (Calgary) for a reason, to get him out of our conference,” Carroll said of meeting 19-year-old Kanzig face-to-face in opposing uniforms. “I ran someone over in the middle of the ice and he came up to me and he was his same old self, he was letting me know I can’t be doing that out there.”
Space on the ice is often limited when Kanzig is patrolling the blueline, but Carroll’s performance at the Dome wasn’t hindered by the Athabasca, AB product’s brand of in-your-face physical play.
The 20-year-old forward utilized his solid 6-foot-4, 214-pound frame to create some space of his own as he netted a pair of goals to lift the Royals to a 4-1 triumph over the Hitmen.
Now in his final WHL season before graduating to the next level, the winger is enjoying his best campaign yet.
After scoring 57 points in 70 games with the Royals last season, Carroll was nabbed by the Flames 184th overall in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Draft.
With 27 games left to go in the Royals schedule, Carroll is just one point shy of last year’s mark with 28 goals and 28 assists in 45 tilts.
Following his strong two-way performance against the Hitmen, Carroll caught up with Flames’ brass for a brief, which carried a simple message; stay the course.
“They said ‘Move your feet, you’re a big player, use your size’,” Carroll relayed to media of the pep talk with Flames assistant GM Craig Conroy. “I think they’re happy, but I’ll definitely work at it every game to get better and better and hopefully be playing here one day.”
Carroll has been a consistent producer throughout his four-year major-junior career spent entirely with the Royals.
After a 20-point rookie campaign in 2011, the Scottsdale, AZ native has seen his numbers increase steadily from there.
The Chilliwack Bruins ninth round Bantam Draft selection in 2009 followed up on his first WHL season with 42 and 57-point campaigns. He is now on pace to wrap up his major-junior career with more than 200 points and 450 penalty minutes.
Attending his first training camp with the Flames in September, Carroll continues to carry the momentum of skating with bigger, stronger and more experienced players into his final stint with the Royals.
“I’m trying to continue that pace and work ethic,” Carroll said of his first professional camp. “I’m not going to try and be anything I’m not and just keep it to my skills and work every day and hopefully get a shot.”