Veteran Voice gives ECHL fans the chance to get to know a veteran in the League ahead of the 2018-19 season. In this installment, the ECHL spoke with Rocco Carzo of the Kansas City Mavericks, who enters his sixth professional season in 2018-19.
Name: Roccoo Carzo
Hometown: Media, Pennsylvania
Team: Kansas City Mavericks
2017-18 Stats: 12 gp, 2g, 3a, 5 pts.
ECHL Career Stats: 281 gp, 74g, 123a, 197 pts.
ECHL: What made you decide to re-sign in Kansas City for the 2018-19 Season?
Rocco Carzo: I have been in Kansas City for the last three years, and I have absolutely loved it. The city, the fans and the organization are all top notch and have made me and my family feel so welcome. Over the years, I have come to look of this city as my second home, and I feel like I'm a part of this team and this organization, so I want to be here and continue to work towards bringing a Kelly Cup to Kansas City. I trust and believe in Coach Dickson and the direction he is leading this team, and I know he will be giving everything he has to Kansas City. I wanted to be a part of turning this organization back into one of the top teams in the ECHL.
ECHL: Does missing most of last season due to an injury make you more anxious for this season to get started?
RC: After 10 months of 3-4 hours per day, every day, of workouts and rehab, to say I am anxious may be an understatement! Missing most of last season was extremely tough on me. The rehab side of it wasn't the tough part, but instead, watching my teammates out there going through some tough stretches, and not being able to be out there, battling with them and helping the team compete. Having the sport you love temporarily taken from you, especially after working so hard to prepare for it, really makes you appreciate the opportunity you are fortunate to have. I am coming into this season ready to go and hungrier than I've ever been.
ECHL: The Mavericks are well known for having a passionate and dedicated fan base. What makes Kansas City such a special place to play?
RC: I can't say enough about the fan base here in Kansas City. From day one four years ago when I got to town, they made me feel right at home. The fans and the organization make sure us players are taken care of and have everything needed to succeed. Growing up a diehard Philadelphia sports fan, you see first hand what a "passionate" fan base looks like! Kansas City, though a little bit more welcoming and kind, is just as passionate as Philly, whether it's at our games or Chiefs games. They come out and support us every night, whether we are in first place or last, and make sure we know they have our backs. Their passion and dedication to the team makes you want to give your 100% effort every single night.
ECHL: As a veteran in the League and a leader in the dressing room, what is your message to the rookies and younger guys in the room?
RC: I tend to be less of a vocal leader, and try to lead more by example on the ice. I've always felt players respect and respond better to leaders who can just go out and show you what to do, and how to do it the right way, instead of the overly-vocal ones. A message I try to relay to the younger players is to control what you can control. There are too many ups and downs during the year in this league, individually and as a team, with a lot of the reasons being out of your control. Control what you can, your effort level every day, whether it's in practice, the gym, or in a game.
ECHL: In all your years of professional hockey, what has been your most memorable achievement so far?
RC: My most memorable achievement would have to have been my first game in the AHL. Growing up, my father and I would go to Philadelphia Phantoms games, and I used to look at these guys like they were absolute superstars. Never once in my wildest dreams would I have thought I'd ever come close to being that good to play at any level even near the AHL. But in my second year in the ECHL in Ontario, I was lucky enough to earn my first AHL call up to Norfolk. The best part of it all, was being able to call my dad to tell him, and hear in his voice how happy he was for me, but most importantly, how proud he was of me. Sharing that accomplishment with him meant everything to me.
ECHL: What are you most looking forward to this season?
RC: After being out for so long, I'm most looking forward to just getting back out there and competing with my teammates. Like I said, it was tough being in the stands having to watch your teammates endure the ups and downs of the season, and not being able to be out there battling with them. We have a great group of returners coming back, and a lot of young talent coming in, and I think we are going to be a very tough team to play against. I can't wait to get back out there and get the Mavericks back to our winning ways.
ECHL: How are you spending your summer?
RC: Aside from continuing my rehabilitation and physically getting back to where I was, I tried to keep fairly busy. As many Italians know, meat comes first. So I always found time to go work with my Dad at my family's Italian Deli, slicing deli meat for hours. I also got to work a bit with my trainer, Paul Kenny, at his athletic performance facility, where I got to train a lot of high school and Division I college athletes. I also helped run a few hockey clinics in the area with a few of my buddies, which is always a good time. Then, most of my afternoons were spent at the rink running privates lessons for some of the local youth hockey players. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach the game and give back to the community. Then, if I had any free time, I'd shoot on down to the Jersey Shore and relax a bit at my beach house.