Growing up in Minnesota, also revered as the “State of Hockey,” watching the Wild and spending countless hours at the rink, is a commonality among many youth players. For senior Maverick defenseman Andy Carroll, that idea still remains true.
“I’d say my dad and grandpa are who really got me into hockey,” Carroll said. “They both played collegiate hockey. And with my dad starting the women’s program here at Minnesota State, it was a cool way for me to learn how to skate and go on the ice after games.”
Carroll grew up playing his youth and high school hockey in Northfield, Minn. a small town roughly 60 miles northeast of Mankato and hockey-factory for high-level collegiate players. But hockey wasn’t his only passion, as the multi-sport athlete threw football, baseball golf and tennis into the mix.
“It wasn’t a lot of sleep some days but I had a passion for every single one of them,” Carroll said. “It’s one of those things where if I start to get a little invested in something, I want to go all in on it. I think activities are a lot more fun when you’re good at it.”
Though Carroll decided to put away the cleats and stick with hockey as his main sport, he still continues to hit the links in the summer and make a difference in the community. He works at Mankato golf club during the summer and works with the juniors program to help kids develop their golf skills.
“You’ve got these kids that’ll show up and mom will be standing in the back with a sharpie and your trading cards that they hand out at different games,” Carroll said. “It’s super cool to combine the hockey side of it in terms of how I know those people with another strong passion of mine.”
After finishing his senior hockey season at Northfield, the decision to play juniors was seemingly a no-brainer, but Carroll’s body was slow to develop. The five-foot-five and 120 lb high-schooler took a less direct route and competed in Sioux Falls on an 18U AAA team for a year, putting up 56 points in 58 games played for the Stampede.
During his successful year with the Stampede, the Aberdeen Wings of the North American Hockey League tendered Carroll to a contract for the following season. He had another successful season, putting up 40 points in 55 games played with Aberdeen before making the transition to Green Bay of the United States Hockey league next season.
During the second half of his season in Aberdeen, he began taking recruitment tours with other universities before securing his spot to come to Mankato. Carroll was able to tally eight points in 42 games played with Green Bay during his final season playing juniors.
“The process of getting recruited to Minnesota State was really fast,” Carroll said. “Two and a half months after being a healthy scratch multiple games in Aberdeen, I was fortunate enough to be recruited by some of the top teams in the country.”
Minnesota State would be home for Carroll for the next five years. During his time, Carroll has amounted 45 points through 139 games played and currently ranks eighth on the team in points this season.
Last week’s CCHA Defenseman of the Week has currently been to back-to-back Frozen Fours and was the WCHA’s Scholar Athlete during the 2019-20 season. Looking back on it, a lot of Carroll’s favorite hockey memories stem from last year’s Maverick team.
“As a Southern Minnesota kid, I think Hockey Day might’ve been one of the coolest memories in terms of a Big-9 city hosting,” Carroll said. “I grew up watching the Mavs and the outdoor games and I never thought participating in it was possible being from Northfield. That was the most surreal experience I’ve had in my hockey career.”
One focus that Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings instills in his players is to leave the program better than how you found it. And after last year’s disappointing loss to Denver in the national championship, Carroll remains focused on developing his skills this year and hopefully leading his team to Tampa, Fla. in March.
“Throughout my career at this program, I’ve played a lot of different roles,” Carroll said. “Taking a step and being a complete package player this year for the program will hopefully help when I take the step to the next level.”
Header Photo: No. 4 Andy Carroll is a defenseman for the Minnesota State Men’s Hockey team. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
Write to Karson Buelow at Karson.Buelow@mnsu.edu