Levi Carter couldn’t believe Merritt Centennials Head Coach-GM Dave Chyzowski, when he was told he was staying with the B.C. Hockey League club.
“He was pretty excited when I told him I wanted to keep him,” says Chyzowski, who played over 1,000 pro hockey games over 18 years. “He had the biggest smile on his face. Sitting on the bus coming home, he couldn’t believe it. He asked me if I was for real. ‘Are you serious?’ His eyes lit up. I couldn’t be more happy and proud of him.”
“It’s a great opportunity. Playing in the BCHL has always been my goal,” says Carter, who played for the Osoyoos Coyotes last season. “Making that goal become reality is pretty special.”
Listed at five-foot-11, 185 pounds, Carter will wear #25 for the Centennials.
Chyzowski, a former second overall pick of the New York Islanders in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, sees the Keremeos product as being an “extremely diverse player.”
“He can play on our third and fourth line as an energy kid. His attitude is outstanding where he will not complain,” says Chyzowski. “He will be the type of kid that will continue to work so hard that he will force me into moving him up into a more prominent offensive role because he has some skill and he likes to shoot the puck. He likes to take pucks to the net.”
Seeing Carter’s high hockey IQ enable him to “make plays out of nothing” is something Chyzowski really likes.
“He doesn’t try to get fancy. He doesn’t try to put pucks through defencemen’s feet,” adds Chyzowoski, who had 31 points in 126 career NHL games. “He puts pucks into areas that he is confident he can really win races to. His speed is actually a little bit deceiving.”
Carter impressed the Centennials coaching staff each day during training camp. His stint with the Penticton Vees, in which Carter played 12 games during the BCHL Pod Season, helped him.
“I got to know the speed of the game, and the ins and outs of the BCHL,” he says. “That definitely played a role in helping me.”
But so did his time with the Coyotes in the KIJHL and he praised Head Coach Carter Rigby, who “really pushes for his players to move on to the next level.”
“With the KIJHL, getting that experience when you are a bit younger, to play with those older guys really help you prepare for the next level,” says Carter, 18. “That’s what really helped me, was playing against those older guys. The KIJHL is a very physical league. Being able to play that role, and play against it was a huge factor in me being ready for the BCHL.”
Chyzowski agrees with Carter’s comment as physicality is always a main concern for him.
“When kids can prove that the physical part of the game is not going to be a factor for them, then that is a great indication for me that you have to look at other things,” he says. “I don’t want kids that are scared and timid out there. It’s not good for their mental health. It’s not good for their development in terms of shying away from being aggressive and playing with their head up.”