Rode: Wolski a key piece for Red Deer College

Carter Wolski is a perfect fit for the RDC Kings hockey team.

Kings head coach Trevor Keeper likes to play a high tempo game, which suits the five-foot-10, 175-pound rearguard just fine.

“The style definitely helps me play my game,” said the 21-year-old native of Sexsmith. “I’m more of an offensive defenceman. It’s nice not having to think too much about my game, but just playing and doing my thing.”

His quickness and skating is something you notice right away.

“My skating is probably my best asset,” he said. “It helped me growing up, and it’s something I take pride in. I’m always working on getting faster as well.”

In recruiting Keeper was looking for defencemen who could jump into the play.

“Defencemen don’t have to be overly big any more, but it’s really important for them to move the puck quickly to the forwards and to have the speed and agility to jump into the rush. We also expect our defencemen to join in the cycle and switches so we kind of use a five-man rover type of system and Carter fits right in with his speed and skill set.”

The Kings also lost a big portion of their defence after last season in ACAC men’s hockey player of the year Tanner Butler, Dylan Baer and Mike Statchuk.

“You can’t replace Tanner, but we looked for a combination of guys who could take over for him and Baer on the offensive side,” said Keeper. “Carter fits that role, and he’s been exceptional on the power play moving the puck up and into the offensive zone.”

Wolski got into hockey in Sexsmith before joining the Grande Prairie Storm bantam AAA squad in the 2011-12 season.

He played two years of bantam AAA, a year of minor midget and two years with the midget AAA squad before joining the Storm in the AJHL.

“I grew up watching the Storm and wanted to play there one day, so it seemed natural for me to play junior there,” he explained.

He played two full seasons with the Storm before being traded to the Brooks Bandits after two games into the 2017-18 season.

“It wasn’t a big shock to be traded but being traded to such an esteemed organization as Brooks was a bit of a shock and pretty fortunate.”

Carter played 37 games with the Bandits in 2017-18, scoring six times and adding 14 assists.

Last season his playing time was limited to 29 games because of a shoulder injury, but he had four goals and 15 helpers. Fortunately, he was at full strength for the playoffs, and the Bandits run to the national title.

“My junior career couldn’t have ended any better,” he said. “Playing four years in the league and finishing my 20-year-old year by winning the nationals was special.”

Carter received offers to play in the States, but “looking at the pros and cons, it was best for me to stay in Alberta and Red Deer College was a nice fit.”

“We’re only a month into the season but it’s been awesome. The facilities are great and the I feel comfortable around the guys … it’s been a good transition.”

The game is different than junior, but it hasn’t affected his game.

“I didn’t know what to expect as I didn’t know anything about the league. The guys are bigger and stronger overall and it’s a bit more structured than junior, but nothing I have to be overly concerned with.”

Carter is taking kinesiology and will be around for “four or five” years.

One thing he did do was jump into college life with both feet.

“I wanted to take a full course load, take as many courses as I could early on. It’s been a matter of time management and you have to be dedicated to your studies and so far so good.”

Wolski is looking forward to this weekend as the Kings open their regular season with a home-and-home series against defending champion Grant MacEwan University Griffins — tonight in Edmonton and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Gary W Harris Canada Games Centre.

The Kings lost the best-of-three league semifinal to the Griffins last season with all three games going to double overtime.

“We have 19 guys returning and they know what to expect and last year’s memories are still fresh,” said Keeper.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca

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