Stingers Men’s Hockey Forward Massimo Carozza Talks Rookie Year
The Peaks and Valleys of Being a Canadian Hockey Player
At 20 years old, Stingers men’s hockey forward Massimo Carozza was playing for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Like many of his fellow players, he was without a professional contract.
Many young Canadians grow up playing street hockey with their friends, imagining a scenario where they score the overtime goal to win the Stanley Cup.
It’s this dream that drives young hockey players across the country, but it’s one that very few get to experience.
In 2013, Jim Parcels, a former trainer for the Peterborough Petes, and Ken Campbell, a writer for The Hockey News released a book called Selling the Dream: How Hockey Parents and Their Kids Are Paying the Price for Our National Obsession. In the book, there’s an explanation of what the odds are for a hockey player in Ontario to make it to the National Hockey League.
Out of the 30,000 players that played, only 48 were drafted into the NHL. Out of those 48, 38 signed a contract, and 32 of them actually played a game. The odds are definitely stacked against young players.
“You feel that pressure when you’re 20 years old, and [have] no contract,” Carozza said. “You’re not sure what you’re going to do next year, so there was a struggle.”
“It’s going to [be] a longer route to where I want to go eventually,” he added.
Carozza started skating when he was just two-and-half years old. Since then, hockey has been a major part of his life.
“I remember waking up super early at a young age to go for practice,” he said. “I’ve come a long way since two-and-half.”
Supported by his family, Carozza made his way into the hockey world. He was eventually drafted by the Quebec Remparts in the 2012 QMJHL draft. After three full seasons, he was traded to Cape Breton, where he played for two seasons.
“Going back home you’re with your family, it’s nice. You get home cooked meals, [and because] I’m italian my mom cooks a lot.” — Massimo Carozza
At end of his last season in the QMJHL, Carozza had a decision to make. Would he play in the ECHL, or join a university to play hockey and get a degree?
After meeting with Stingers head coach Marc-Andre Element, Carozza decided to come back home to Montreal, after being away from his family for four years, to join the maroon and gold.
Carozza said that being back home with his family is something he missed when he was on the road.
“Going back home you’re with your family, it’s nice. You get home cooked meals, [and because] I’m italian my mom cooks a lot,” he said.
With the Stingers, Carozza started off playing at centre, but after just five games, Element moved Carozza to the wing on a line with U Sports player of the year, Anthony Beauregard. Carozza said that Beauregard is easy to play with because they know each other’s strengths, making the switch from centre to wing easier.
“[I did it] for the best of the team,” Element said. “I wanted that line to have more speed, and Carozza brings a lot of speed and intensity.”
As a first year player, Carozza has scored 35 points in 28 games throughout the regular season, finishing second on the team. He was also named to the Ontario University Athletics East all star rookie team.
Element knew that Carozza was going to be an impact player, and said that he deserves the ice time he’s getting due to his hard work in practice.
“[Carozza] may not have gotten 60 goals or been the top defenseman, [but] he still managed to feed Beauregard, [and Stingers defender Carl] Neill,” said Stingers men’s hockey captain, Philippe Hudon. “He’s just as crucial in terms of what he brought this year.”
The Stingers season recently ended with an 8-1 loss to the New Brunswick Varsity Reds, and Carozza’s first season has come to a close.
Always looking to a future in professional hockey, Carozza said that he has ambitions to play in Europe. He wouldn’t be the first Stinger to make that jump.
Last summer, Stingers forwards, Olivier Hinse and Anthony De Luca both signed for teams in the Metal Ligaen, Denmark’s professional hockey league.
“I have my Italian passport so that’s always in the back of my mind,” Carozza said, although he added that staying in school and getting a degree is very important to him right now.
With files from Dustin Kagan-Fleming.
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