2021-22 Season Review: Trevor Carrick Provides Stable Veteran LeadershipMay 25, 2022
By Paige Burnell/SanDiegoGulls.com
Like his brothers tending to their maple syrup trees in Canada, San Diego Gulls defenseman Trevor Carrick is the one taking care of the saplings making their professional hockey roots in Southern California.
Carrick, an eight-year American Hockey League veteran, was just one of three returning Gulls defensemen for the 2021-22 season. His experience alone made him instrumental on the blueline, with Carrick’s leadership guiding a young Gulls team to growth through a tumultuous season.
"The team went through a lot of adversity, especially early on and COVID and everything that was kind of going on," Carrick said. "New coaching staff and just having a young team and a lot of players that weren’t here last year so we were kind of all put together."
The Gulls budding roster saw a rotation of 15 rookies this season, and Carrick certainly rose to the challenge of helping them adapt to the pace and style of the American Hockey League.
"It goes quickly - I feel like I was just I their shoes last year, but you know, you just try to help them out in any way you can," Carrick said. "Like I said, it’s not an easy league to jump into, it’s a tough league and you’re kind of put in a spot where you’ve got to learn quickly."
Carrick knew the most effective way for him to help San Diego’s young players assimilate and have success early in their AHL careers was to lead by example.
That’s exactly what he did with a multitude of individual achievements this season. The defenseman reached new highs as a Gull in all scoring categories, collecting 10-20=30 points in 61 AHL games this season.
Additionally, Carrick marked up the Gulls’ leaderboards, tallying the most power-play goals (3) of any blueliner and ranking second in goals (10), assists (20), points (30) and shots (122) among defensemen. Highlighting these performances includes his first-game winning goal with San Diego on Mar. 11 at Bakersfield and back-to-back tallies on Jan. 15 vs. Abbotsford and Jan. 18 at San Jose.
"I had a slow start and as the season kind of went on and just kind of adjusting to the systems that our coaches (implemented), you felt a little more comfortable out there and kind of as the season went on, I found myself getting more minutes and finding some power play time as well, which was nice," Carrick said. "Any time you get on the power play - that helps you out pointwise. Yeah, I thought overall it was a good year. It took me definitely some time to get going, but I thought I finished strong there and (I’m) happy with it."
The Stouffville, ONT native didn’t stop there, setting the standard for San Diego’s defense through his performance and his veteran influence in the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs.
In Game One of the Gulls First Round Series with the Ontario Reign, Carrick played a major role in keeping San Diego in the fight. He scored his fifth career postseason goal at 3:18 of the third period, answering four consecutive Ontario goals and bringing the score within one at 4-3.
His impact on the team’s young blueliners shone through on this goal. First-year defenseman Drew Helleson, in his Calder Cup Playoffs debut, recorded his second assist of the night on the play (0-2=2) to tie the Gulls rookie record for assists in a playoff game (last: Jamie Drysdale, Trevor Zegras; Game 1 of First Round, May 21, 2021 @ BAK).
Helleson was one of the Gulls’ three rookie defensemen this season, absorbing Carrick’s positive impact as a player and a mentor alongside him. After signing out of Boston College with the Gulls and playing in his AHL debut on Mar. 22, Carrick helped Helleson transition from the NCAA to being an effective tool for the San Diego blueline.
"As the season went on, we all grew especially those younger guys," Carrick said. "You know it’s a tough league, it’s hard to make that jump from junior hockey or college to here and I thought we did a good job with that, especially those younger guys coming in here and learning as we go.Obviously, not the outcome we wanted but I thought we learned a lot as a team and we all grew and that’s all you can ask for moving into next year."
Carrick predominantly played with rookie and young partners this season, spending a majority of the 2021-22 season with Axel Andersson. The Swede produced career highs in all scoring categories with 4-6=10 in first full professional season in North America and second season with San Diego.
The veteran also took defenseman Nathan Larose under his charge as the rookie aided the Gulls in their push for the playoffs, appearing in nine of his 22 games played this season in April alone.
"I’m just kind of here to guide them and help them in way I can and I thought they did a really good job," Carrick said. "You saw their improvement just as players and people throughout the year and they did a really good job and I think next year they’re going to be even better."
Now, Carrick is focused on bettering his own game for next season. The defenseman is an unrestricted free agent but hopes to return and continue his influence on the young prospects in the organization.
"It’s the same thing for me every year: just my skating," Carrick said. "These kids they can skate out there and I’m not getting any younger so I’m just always trying to work on my foot speed because it seems like this league is getting faster every year. Anytime I can get on the ice and work on little things like that, my agility and stuff like that and obviously still trying to build muscle and stuff like that, but I think just the league is just getting faster and I’m just trying to keep up with them."