By JACK LeGWIN
Case McCarthy reacted with a multitude of emotions to the news that he had been selected to the Team USA U17 NTDP (National Team Development Program).
“It took a while to sink in,” McCarthy said. “It was a whirlwind of emotion to be honest with you. You’re shocked, you’re excited to represent your country, but after that, you get the extra bit of motivation to work hard in the summer.”
The opportunity he had been given in Plymouth (Mich.), was a rare one, and he wasn’t going to take it for granted.
“From strength to skill development, you have all the resources here to get better,” McCarthy said. “We are all able to take those strides to get ready for the next level. It’s a big jump from youth hockey but we are all adjusting well and taking advantage of that.”
Committed to play for Boston University and head coach David Quinn in two years, McCarthy spoke of how he felt that everything had fallen into place in Beantown during his visit there.
“I love the city of Boston,” McCarthy said. “Campus is right downtown. I like walking around the city. On top of that, the coaching staff is great there. From all the conversations I’ve had with them, it felt like the right fit for me down the road.”
A new wave of offensive defensemen has taken over the NHL. The skill is continuously increasing in the game and McCarthy is doing his best to develop that aspect of his game.
“I try to incorporate myself into the offense as much as possible,” McCarthy explained. “I really try to fill that role, but at the same time you have to be responsible in your own end. I try to find a good mix of the two.”
Continuing on, McCarthy said he looks at a couple players in the NHL to model his game after in that mold of puck moving defensemen.
“Drew Doughty, Ryan McDonagh I really like watching him play,” McCarthy said. “Morgan Reilly from Toronto as well, the way that he’s able to do everything on the ice well. From the defensive end through the offensive end. I like incorporating things from their game into mine.”
Projected to be a high pick in the 2019 NHL draft, McCarthy said it would be a big accomplishment, but that it isn’t something he’s thinking about at the moment.
“You’ve dreamed about that since you were a kid,” McCarthy said. “It’s a long ways away though, but it’s just an incentive to keep working hard. You have to take advantage of your time here and not waste a day.”
Playing alongside multiple elite defensemen in his age group, McCarthy said that they all integrate aspects of the games of others in order to improve.
“You take pieces from their game and try to incorporate what they do well into your game,” McCarthy said. “It’s mostly the little things. There’s no better guys to be competing alongside of and playing with.”
When asked what the hardest part of adjusting to the play in the USHL (United States Hockey League), McCarthy cites playing against more seasoned players as the biggest factor.
“You’re playing against older guys who are more experienced and stronger than you are,” McCarthy said. “You have to learn tricks and get stronger and faster yourself. It was a fast adjustment period. We adjusted well on the ice to get past that challenge.”
Playing alongside other players who have been in the Team USA program for a while at this point, McCarthy said that watching them has really helped him to learn how they handle adversity.
“You watch how they carry themselves for sure,” McCarthy said, both off and on the ice. You watch how they deal with travel, and in school, as well as in the gym and on the ice. You try to live up to that USA hockey standard, carrying yourself with pride and honor. The older guys have been great.”
The U17 program has been playing at a very high level in January through February and McCarthy said he thinks it’s the increased work being put forth on the ice and in the gym between game days that accounts for that.
“Everyone is putting the time in,” McCarthy said. “In practice, we are pushing each other, and I think that really carries over into our games. We compete, play with intensity, speed and flow and that’s an attributed to our practices. On top of that, we have bonded together, I think we play for each other out there.”
McCarthy has 16 points (3G- 13A) in 36 games.