Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - Submitted by Ryan Darnley
2016 has already been a big year for Liverpool Ellesse Carini. After a full Australian summer of hockey with the Sydney Sabres winning the Australian Junior Ice Hockey League, captaining the under 18’s national team to Gold at the Division 3 Group A World Championships and being called up into the Australian under 20’s team, Carini now finds himself suiting up regularly for the resurgent Sydney Ice Dogs, scoring his first two AIHL goals last weekend in Melbounrne.
Add to that, this being his final year of high school and study for his Higher School Certificate (HSC) and the youngster certainly is keeping busy.
“It is quite amazing when you think of it,” Carini said. “2016, I am in year 12, my HSC year; I have been to two World Championships so far and with the Tange State tournament looming overhead in July, I feel great juggling school and sporting commitments.”
Having such as busy schedule and being only 17, Carini is quick to point out that he has a strong support network behind him to help him achieve all his goals.
“At the moment I’m concentrating on doing well in my HSC; everything is falling into place,” Carini said. “I have a very good support network [of] coaches, family and friends.”
The rookie forward joined the Ice Dogs during the off-season, having played one AIHL game for the Sydney Bears last season as a sixteen-year old. While it wasn’t necessarily his goal at the start of the year, impressive performances at World Championship level have helped fast-track the youngster’s career.
“Last year, it was all about the training and exposure and I thought that it would be the same this year as well,” he said. “However, I was approached and asked to play and that means a lot to me.”
After a successful season in the AJIHL with the Sabres winning a hotly-contested Grand Final with the Melbourne Glaciers, Carini had momentum heading into the IIHF U18 Division 3 Group A World Championships with Australia. He led from the front as captain of the team, winning gold and promotion, notching six goals and seven assists in five games in the process, finishing second on the scoring leaders list and being named Australia’s Player of the Tournament.
That momentum was a reflection on the way Australian representative teams are now run, with Carini saying “our coaches trained us like professional athletes and expected none less than 100% every time we touched the ice”.
“Personally, being trained with such professionalism really helped with the transition over to the AIHL,” Carini continued. “These qualities are what the Ice Dogs enforce, so mentally I was already on the same page and ready to play.”
Perhaps it is this experience that leads him to being so relaxed out on the ice, un-phased by the fact he’s playing against guys some of whom are literally double his age.
“This is where I will be learning valuable lessons,” Carini said. “I understand there is so much to learn and grow as a player. But I have the biggest grin on my face even when we have lost games by a great margin.
“I remember when I was an Atom, I had the autographs of the boys I'm playing with now and nothing has changed. I still look up to these boys and hopefully one day I'll follow in their footsteps.”
Wearing the C on his jersey for the duration of the U18 tournament has given Ellesse a definite goal to strive for, with leadership in the AIHL something he “most certainly would” be keen on. However, for now he’s learning the trade saying “our team has a great leadership group and it's certainly reflecting on me and giving me something to strive for”.
“I have great admiration for the likes of Tomas Manco, Dave Dunwoodie, Andrew White and the Stephenson brothers,” Carini said. “Scotty and Tomas made appearances at junior games and have always showed interest in the development of young players, whether that be from guidance or coaching. They have always made time for their fans and I will never forget that. Now I am playing with them, how good is that?”
The future is certainly bright for the youngster, who this past weekend tallied his first AIHL goal against the Melbourne Ice, cleaning up a scramble in front of net, before notching his second the next day with a superb breakaway goal.
He points to an overseas jaunt as something he wants to achieve in the future, saying “I would like to combine hockey with study overseas, but I guess I will cross that bridge when I get to it”.
For now, it’s a case of continuing his juggling act and ensuring all aspects of his life continue to prove successful.