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Orland Park’s Connor Carrick living his dream with Capitals

Updated: November 3, 2013 6:29AM

Defenseman Connor Carrick got to his locker, took off his gloves and haphazardly shoved them on the first shelf above the stall. Then he quickly took them out and hesitated, glancing over to Martin Erat’s neighboring stall to see how the 13-year veteran stored his equipment, just to make sure he was doing it right.

‘‘Still getting used to it,’’ Carrick said with a sheepish grin.

The 19-year-old Orland Park
native, a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft, will be learning on the fly this season. Carrick not only made the Washington Capitals’ roster out of training camp, but he was in the lineup Tuesday against his hometown Blackhawks.

‘‘It’s incredible,’’ Carrick said before the game. ‘‘I’m so honored to be in the lineup tonight, to be able to play where I’m going to play, with some of the guys in this room. It’s really
special for me.’’

The preseason game Saturday at the United Center, in which Carrick played more than 22 minutes, was a nice primer for what to expect in the season opener. But he’s hardly unfamiliar with the building. He couldn’t remember the first game he
attended at the United Center, but he was there for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals in 2010 against the San Jose Sharks.

‘‘[Dustin] Byfuglien scored the OT winner and celebrated on one leg,’’ Carrick said. ‘‘I remember it clear as day. Still one of the loudest noises I’ve ever heard.’’

Carrick said he managed to
secure 10 tickets for friends and family, but ‘‘I don’t think that’s
going to be enough.’’

While Carrick’s inclusion on coach Adam Oates’ opening-night roster came as a surprise to many, he said he knew he had a chance to make the team based on the feedback he was getting during camp.

‘‘I spent a lot of time on the game when I was a kid,’’ he said. ‘‘I really love playing hockey; I love the details of it. That’s why I’m so excited to be at this level. These guys are so good. Coach Oates, coach [Calle] Johansson, they’re so demanding in their details, and I kind of eat it up. I really enjoy it.’’


Twitter: @MarkLazerus

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