Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sports Person of the Week

Carlo Feels Lucky to Play One Year of High-School Hockey

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After waiting several years for a chance to play high-school hockey, Old Saybrook senior Charlie Carlo found a home on the East Haven co-op squad this winter.

Photo courtesy of Charlie Carlo

After waiting several years for a chance to play high-school hockey, Old Saybrook senior Charlie Carlo found a home on the East Haven co-op squad this winter. (Photo courtesy of Charlie Carlo)

Charlie Carlo loves ice hockey, and he grew up playing the sport, while competing for various travel teams in the state. However, Charlie felt a little uncertain about what direction his career would take since there was no hockey team at his hometown high school in Old Saybrook.

Seeing that this was his senior year, Charlie made a major push to get on the ice. He and his father started exploring the idea of partnering Charlie with a few different schools as a co-op, when East Haven swooped in late and formed its own co-op squad that had roster spots for Charlie and some other players from the area. Thus, the East Haven-Old Lyme-Old Saybrook-East Haven boys’ ice hockey team was born.

“We were blindsided by it. We were under the influence where, if a co-op team would be formed, it would be Fitch or [Norwich Free Academy], so we weren’t even looking at this end of the state,” Charlie says. “We were really excited when we found out East Haven wanted us. They’re a strong team, and I was lucky it worked out.”

Charlie’s father got him involved with the Seahawks out of Norwich, as well as Team Connecticut during middle school, and Charlie has also played for the Junior Wolfpack. When it came time for high school, Charlie thought about going someplace outside of Old Saybrook to play hockey, but he didn’t want to leave his group of friends, and so he decided to stay.

Charlie continued playing with the Seahawks and some men’s leagues with his dad to stay sharp, although he wasn’t on the ice as often as he wanted to be. Consequently, Charlie was unsure how he would fare when he joined the Yellowjackets this winter.

“I didn’t know what to expect. Obviously, I played some high-level hockey, but I didn’t know what the norm was for a high-school team,” says Charlie, who also plays lacrosse at Old Saybrook. “I wasn’t sure if I’d be outmatched or slow, but early on, I noticed a pretty wide range of talent, so I wasn’t worried. I just focused more on getting myself back into everything.”

East Haven Head Coach Lou Pane says that Charlie was a welcomed addition to the team, and he appreciates Charlie’s willingness to play all ends of the ice. When all was said and done, Charlie helped the Yellowjackets qualify for the State Tournament for the 32nd year in a row with Coach Pane this season.

“Charlie did a great job fitting in right away,” Pane says. “He played both offense and defense for us—wherever I asked him to go. It was great having somebody so versatile on the ice for us.”

Charlie considers himself a defenseman by trade. However, he welcomed the challenge of shifting back to offense when East Haven needed him to this year.

“I’ve been playing defense the past seven or eight years of my hockey career, so it was a big change going to offense. I had to try to remember where to go as far as positioning goes,” Charlie says. “It was fun, though. It was unique to have to take face-offs and have to regain my ability in the circle. Offense was a good opportunity for me and, honestly, I’ve waited so long to play that I didn’t care where I was as long as I was playing.”

Charlie says that his ice hockey career isn’t quite finished as he will play club hockey in college at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. Since hockey is such a big part of Charlie’s life, he’s happy that he had the opportunity to play one high-school season as a member of the East Haven co-op team.

“At the beginning of the season, Coach Pane told me to enjoy it because the season goes quick. I didn’t realize how fast it would go,” says Charlie. “I wish I had the chance to play for all four years, but I’m glad I got to experience it for one year. If anybody has the opportunity, I’d say take it. Being a part of it is unique, and there’s nothing like it. I had the time of my life. It was a great experience, and I wish I could do it again.”


PJ Foti covers sports for East Haven and North Branford for Zip06. Email PJ at pj.foti@shorepublishing.com.

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