Some day, Carson McMillan will stand, hammer in hand, a proud carpenter by trade, ready to pour his heart and soul into his next project.
Randy Pascal For The Sudbury Star
For now, the 18-year-old forward would be just as pleased with building something special, on the ice, back in his hometown.
The fact that he is pursuing the latter with the Rayside-Balfour Canadians has much to do with the former.
“I enjoyed my year with St. Mary’s (Lincolns), but I got a job with the carpenter’s union, which allows me to follow my red seal aspirations, which I am trying to do for later on in life,” said McMillan.
Thankfully, the Canadians are more than happy to accommodate the local product who racked up seven points in four regular-season games after being traded back home late last year, adding another five points in nine playoff games as well.
All of this comes just two years after the 5-foot-10 winger finished seventh in scoring in the Great North Midget League, recording 46 points (20G-26A) in 29 games in helping to lead the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves to a first-place finish and league championship crown.
At this point in his life, McMillan sees no reason why the two primary passions in his life — carpentry and hockey — cannot still co-exist.
“Obviously, I would continue to pursue hockey if I could,” he said. “I am 18 now, so it’s time to start thinking about my options. Carpentry runs in my family, I saw a lot of it growing up. But I really want to contribute to RBC (RB Canadians) this year by scoring goals, putting up points — and I really want to win the Dudley (Cup).”
For that goal to be reached, the local juniors will need to lean heavily upon veteran defenceman Zachary Snow, the only 1999 birth date on the back end inked to a playing card in Rayside so far in 2919-2020.
“Being older, you have to be a leader on the team,” said the native of Acton, Ont. “For a lot of the guys, they’re coming into something unfamiliar, some of them moving away from home for the first time, and you’ve got to be willing to help them out when they need it.”
“There’s going to be growing pains with guys stepping into junior,” added the veteran of more than 100 NOJHL encounters, who also got called up for nine games of OHL action with the Sudbury Wolves in 2017-2018.
“Last year was a learning step for me, too, the first year in a really long time with a letter on my jersey. I’m not really experienced with that.”
And while things might certainly change, Snow sees himself far more of a “lead by example” vet than one who will raise his voice in the room.
“I would say that I’m more of a quiet leader, just do my job out there. Brady (Maltais) is kind of a more vocal guy,” Snow added with a smile.
The trademark of his game is certainly the defensive poise and consistency that he displays on a nightly basis, though he doesn’t object in the least to seeing his role expand with each passing year.
“I think I took a big step forward, last year, in my offensive game,” said Snow, who nearly tripled his point production, year over year, jumping from nine in his rookie campaign to 24 (2G-22A) in 2018-2019.
“Obviously, it’s not all about your points and everything, but I was able to contribute more to the team, while still being able to maintain my strong defensive game, which is more of my strength,” he said.
The Canadians, who opened their 2019-20 training camp with a series of sessions over the weekend at the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex, are now off the ice for a couple of weeks before re-gathering near the end of the month.
Snow, for one, likes what he sees.
“Offensively, we’ve got a lot of great young players, a lot of high young draft picks. I think a lot of our older guys took a nice step last year. In all three of my years here, so far, we’ve been a young team, and I don’t see anything changing — but the guys that are here are developing really well.”
In addition to the signings that were already confirmed earlier this month, the Canadians added local product Gavin Brown, who played for the GNML champion North Bay Midget AAA Trappers last year.
Additionally, the locals are poised to add 2002-defenceman Dylan Bertrand, from Sioux Lookout, to their roster, though GM Jeff Forsyth noted that they are awaiting the completion of the interbranch transfer paperwork before this transaction is completely official.