If you didn't know any better, you'd think Mike Carman was the product of a military family. The Defenseman turned Center has certainly gotten around for a young man. Born in Augusta, Georgia in 1988, he started his hockey days in Texas at the age of five, before moving to England a year later. His family finally settled in Apple Valley, Minnesota when Mike was 8 years old. At age 9, Carman played for a U-12 team in England. He attended the USA Hockey Select 15 and 16 camps. He went on to play his High School hockey at the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, Minnesota where he amassed 59 points (19 Goals, 40 Assists) in 29 games. Carman led his team to the State High School Hockey Tournament, and was named to the All-Tournament team. He was also All-State honorable mention. Along the way he played for various U.S. National teams around the world.
He came to the Gophers for the 2006-2007 season, and amassed a total of 66 points (29 Goals, 37 Assists) in a 135 game career at the University of Minnesota. He was eligible for the NHL Draft in 2006, and was taken in the third round, 81st overall by the Colorado Avalanche that year. He is currently in his third year with the Avalanches AHL affiliate in Cleveland, the Lake Erie Monsters, after signing an entry level contract immediately following the end of his Gopher Hockey career in mid-March 2010.
GopherHole tracked Carman down for an interview recently, to see what he was up to.
GopherHole: Some site's list your birthplace as Augusta, Georgia and some list Apple Valley, Minnesota....so, which is it?
Carman: Born in Augusta, Georgia. I started playing hockey in Texas when I was five, moved to England when I was six, and finally moved to Apple Valley when I was eight.
GopherHole: The Minnesota Hockey program has gone through some tough times in recent years. Why do you think that is?
Carman: Well, guys leaving for the NHL never helps. During my time at the U, we never finished the season with the same team we started with. We were streaky and lacked consistency. Ryan Stoa and Jordan Schroeder were really good, but as a whole, goal scoring was an issue for our teams.
GopherHole: How do you think Don Lucia's recent contract extension will affect the team?
Carman: I don’t think it will matter much to the players who are at the U now. Bottom line is he's a great coach, and he's going to be successful wherever he is.
GopherHole: What is your greatest hockey memory?
Carman: Beating Finland to win the U-18 Championships in Sweden back in 2006.
GopherHole: What is your worst hockey memory?
Carman: Having Holy Angels win the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament on either side of me being in High School, and not winning it the two years I played with the team.
GopherHole: How about your greatest Gopher hockey memory?
Carman: I have a few. My first goal at Ohio State, winning the WCHA regular season and WCHA Final Five titles as a freshman, and my four point night against Wisconsin in my last home game at Mariucci.
GopherHole: And your worst Gopher hockey memory or memories?
Carman: Sitting out half of my sophomore year because I wasn't eligible due to my grades, and losing to North Dakota to end my senior year.
GopherHole: How is it playing hockey in Cleveland, after growing up playing in a hockey crazy state like Minnesota?
Carman: It's definitely not the same. Coming from Minnesota, you get a little spoiled. But they really do a great job of marketing the team here in Cleveland. On the weekends we get about 10,000 fans at games, but a little less during the week.
GopherHole: You were injured recently. What happened, and are you fully recovered?
Carman: It was actually kind of a freak accident. I broke my foot jumping over a bag in the locker room last spring. I rehabbed it during the summer and into the fall, and started skating again in October. I played my first game of the season in late October.
GopherHole: How has life in the AHL been treating you?
Carman: It's not the NHL, but it's a big jump up from the College game. You have to think a lot quicker, because the game is faster, and they hit a lot harder. I'm playing with and against a lot of experienced older players who have been around....I've learned a lot.
GopherHole: You're playing with Ryan Stoa. How much of a difference does it make to have a familiar face on the team with you there?
Carman: Yeah, it's great playing with Ryan. It's certainly nice to know people when you come into a new environment like this. But actually, I knew a lot of the guys on the team before I even came to Cleveland, through either playing against them, or with them on various teams, including the Developmental Program in Ann Arbor.