Nikita Khrushchev once said, “If you live among wolves, you have to act like a wolf.”

While the former Premier of the Soviet Union was not referring to hockey, it could have a certain connotation when talking about the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves. Over the course of the team’s history, the team has developed players with equal parts of offensive production, defensive responsibility, and physical play. Much like the animal of the same name, Sudbury Wolves players, both past and present, are generally ones not to be intimidated but, once provoked, they can overpower anyone who crosses their path. The formula must be working as evidenced by alumni such as Dale Hunter, Pat Verbeek, Michael Peca, and Marc Staal.

Macauley Carson could join that list one day.

Born on March 12, 1999, Carson calls Midhurst, Ontario, home. A twelve-minute drive from Barrie, the town of nearly 3000 people is also the hometown of Boston Bruins forward Matt Beleskey, who had a solid four-year OHL career with the Belleville Bulls and has enjoyed a seven-year NHL career due to his hard-nosed play with touches of offensive potential.

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Much like Beleskey, Carson has developed a reputation for being a similar player. Even in minor hockey, he was not one to be taken lightly, both in points and physicality. Carson played minor hockey in the Barrie Jr. Colts organization and, at the age of fifteen, he was allowed to play five games with the AAA minor midgets, recording four points. The next season, he joined the minor midgets on a full-time basis, serving as team captain for the 2014-15 season.

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After a 44-point minor midget season in 2014-15, Macauley Carson was chosen 41st overall in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection by the Sudbury Wolves. (Credit: OMHA.net)”

Carson emerged having a rather solid offensive campaign, recording 44 points (nineteen goals, 29 assists) in 31 games, second in team scoring behind Morgan Frost. He also finished second in team penalty minutes with 49. Carson was also given the chance to play at the OHL Gold Cup that season, recording five points in as many games for Team OMHA Navy and winning a bronze medal.

Going into the 2015 OHL Priority Selection, Carson was being billed as a hard-hitting power forward in the making. At 6’1″ and 200 pounds, the left winger was expected to be chosen highly. With a second-round pick that they had acquired in a trade, nearly one month after he turned sixteen, the Sudbury Wolves chose Carson with the 41st overall selection.

The Wolves knew that they were in the process of a rebuild in all aspects. They had selected David Levin with the first overall pick in the same draft; they chose Owen Lane, Shane Bulitka, and Ben Garagan in later rounds; and they had signed free agent forward Alan Łyszczarczyk. Adding a physical player like Carson gave the team, despite his youth, a beneficial truculence that demonstrated that the team may be young but they were not going to be pushed around. Less than two months after being drafted, on June 23, 2015, Carson was signed to a standard player’s agreement.

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After going pointless in four preseason games, Carson made his regular-season OHL début on September 27, 2015, against the Mississauga Steelheads. Three games later, on October 12, 2015, he recorded his first OHL career point, an assist, against the Kitchener Rangers on Ben Garagan’s first OHL career goal. As the games passed, it became clear that this rookie was not going to put up a considerable amount of points for the Wolves but he was surely helpful. Carson started taking a regular shift and, in time, he became one of head coach David Matsos’ more reliable penalty killers. He was being used at both his natural left wing position, in addition to playing at centre.

He also proved that he was capable of something else: Physicality. On November 20, 2015, he got into his first OHL career fight against Cole Fraser of the Peterborough Petes.

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“Carson scored his first OHL career goal on December 11, 2015, and finished his rookie OHL season with eleven points in 61 games. (Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)”

As for many rookies, points seemed hard to come by for Carson in his first OHL season. The Wolves were not exactly the best team in the league either but they knew that their youth was going to prove advantageous in the future. On December 11, 2015, however, Carson was finally rewarded with his first OHL career goal. That night, the Wolves had their annual Teddy Bear Toss and, toward the end of the second period, they found themselves down 8-0 to the London Knights. With 25 seconds left in the frame, he pounced on a rebound from inside the blue paint, beating Tyler Parsons, for the tally. It turned out to be the Wolves’ only goal in the game but it earned Carson third star honours on the night.

Getting his first OHL career goal seemed to be a bit of an awakening in Carson. He emerged scoring his second OHL career goal only six days later against the Niagara IceDogs. On New Year’s Eve 2015, he played his hometown Colts for the first time in Barrie. By the start of the new calendar year, he appeared ready to come into his own. Carson enjoyed a modest three-game point streak from January 15-20, 2016, scoring two goals and one assist. In fact, his goal on January 15, 2016, against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds was a game-winning goal.

While he did get into three more fights during the season, his increase in ice time saw him start to put up points. They were not many but any added offensive output from the rookie was accepted. The day before his seventeenth birthday, he got to play against his hometown Colts once more. On his birthday, he and his teammates had a game against the Hamilton Bulldogs. A week later, on March 19, 2016, Carson got to play in Barrie against the Colts, and he was rewarded with a goal. He finished his OHL rookie season with eleven points (five goals, six assists) in 61 games.

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After the Wolves missed the playoffs in 2016, Carson took some advice from his coach to heart, training vigourously to become an even stronger player. When he returned to Sudbury this past August for training camp, he had gained an inch and seven pounds of muscle, making him 6’2″ and 207 pounds. The now second-year forward was preparing himself to become one of the Central Division’s up-and-coming power forwards.

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, “Carson has become one of the Wolves’ top scorers during the 2016-17 season, something that could possibly allow him to hear his name called at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago. (Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)”

The Wolves as a team got some more good news over the course of the offseason. Michael Pezzetta and Dmitry Sokolov were chosen in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens and the Minnesota Wild, respectively. Alan Łyszczarczyk helped Poland win gold at the D2A World Under-18 Hockey Championships. Twin brothers Drake and Darian Pilon were signed as undrafted free agents after winning the NOJHL championship with the Soo Thunderbirds. The team addressed their immediate need on the blueline by using their second overall pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection to draft Windsor native Owen Lalonde. Perhaps most importantly, David Levin, who could have possibly had his OHL career shortened by military duty in his birth country of Israel, was allowed to forgo his army stint, meaning that he would return to Sudbury after a fantastic rookie season.

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Just like in his rookie campaign, Carson went pointless during the 2016 preseason. That did not seem to matter. Little did anyone associated with the Wolves know but Carson was about to become a more prominent offensive force.

Carson did not waste time scoring his first goal of the 2015-16 season, scoring in the Wolves’ season opener, tallying Sudbury’s third goal in a 4-3 win over the Oshawa Generals on September 23, 2016. Two days later, he recorded his first assist of the season against the Mississauga Steelheads. Carson enjoyed a four-game goal scoring streak between October 2-9, 2016, including the only Wolves goal in a 1-0 win in Barrie against the Colts on October 6, 2016.

In addition to growing offensive output, Carson was starting to gain form in other ways. He started to become one of the team’s better faceoff men, including going 7-for-12 (58.3%) on October 7, 2016, against the Owen Sound Attack. Even more, he was taking strides to become more solid defensively. On October 16, 2016, Carson recorded an assist on three of the Wolves’ five goals against Oshawa; that, coupled with a plus-4 ranking, earned him second star honours that night.

Carson saw another point streak in late October and early November. Over the course of four games between October 23 and November 4, 2016, he tallied five points, including a two-assist effort against the Colts in Barrie on October 29, 2016. On October 23, 2016, he nearly recorded his first OHL career Gordie Howe hat trick, scoring a goal and getting into a fight with Ottawa 67’s captain Travis Barron; only an assist eluded him that night. On November 13, 2016, he continued his scoring ways against the Generals, tallying both of Sudbury’s goals in that game in Oshawa.

As the first half of this season progressed, it was incredible to see Carson be such a force on the scoresheet, and not just in terms of points. He has steadily become one of the OHL’s best men on faceoffs. For a natural left winger, he is starting to assert himself as a two-way centre. On November 27, 2016, he took 31 faceoffs that night against the Niagara IceDogs.

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Things are definitely looking up for Carson going into the last two months of the 2016-17 OHL season. His name is being considered for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, Illinois, as possibly a late-round pick. He has found himself wearing an A as an alternate captain on certain occasions. As of January 12, 2017, his 27 points have him fourth in team scoring, and he leads the team with three shorthanded goals. On a milestone level, Carson appeared in his 100th OHL career game on January 7, 2017, against the Sting in Sarnia.

Most impressively, a year after finishing second last in the OHL standings, thanks partly to Carson, the Wolves are poised to contest for the Central Division crown.

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What comes next for Carson is still yet to be determined. The 2016-17 regular season is still two months from completion. There could be still more yet to come to the surface as he is truly starting to put all the pieces together to become an increasingly complete player, much like the Sudbury Wolves of yesterday.

Nikita Khrushchev would be pleased.  Macauley Carson is truly acting like a wolf.

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