It took Levi Carter a few minutes to come to grips with the news when Merritt Centennials coach Dave Chyzowski told him he’d cracked the B.C. Hockey League club’s roster.
“He was pretty excited when I told him I wanted to keep him,” recalled Chyzowski, who played 1,000-plus 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.”
Carter, a five-foot-11, 185-pound product of Keremeos, spent last season in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and plans to make the most of his shot at moving up a level.
“It’s a great opportunity. Playing in the BCHL has always been my goal,” said Carter.
“Making that goal become reality is pretty special.”
Chyzowski, who was the second overall pick of the New York Islanders in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, sees Carter as 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.”
Carter got a taste of the BCHL when he suited up for 12 games with the Penticton Vees during the 2021 pod season.
“I got to know the speed of the game, and the ins and outs of the BCHL,” said Carter. “That definitely played a role in helping me.”
So did his time with the KIJHL’s Coyotes, where head coach Carter Rigby “really pushes for his players to move on to the next level,” added Carter.
Despite his enthusiasm, Carter was held off the scoresheet last weekend as the Centennials opened the 2021-22 regular season with an 8-1 loss to Prince George and a 3-1 loss to Salmon Arm.