Carter Rowney looking to solidify NHL roster spot

Author: Logan Clow, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune
Date: Aug 23, 2017

When last week’s Grande Prairie Storm alumni game concluded, no one drew more attention than Sexsmith’s Carter Rowney.

And rightfully so. It was the public’s chance to see the 2017 Stanley Cup champion up close and skating as he hit the ice at Revolution Place for a fun pickup game with former Storm teammates.

But, as the 28-year-old came off the ice, dozens of young funs crowded the tunnel from the stands with various items for Rowney to sign. Of course, Rowney obliged and spent 15 minutes interacting and signing various items, such as hockey pucks, hats, sweaters and jerseys – all doing so with a smile.

“(The support) has been awesome since I won the Cup. The whole time I’ve been back, it’s been surreal and the support’s been unbelievable and it’s pretty cool to see the following you have back home and see how much it means to people. It’s something, as a player, it means a lot,” said Rowney.

“To come home and (see the support), it’s humbling... it’s pretty surreal.”

Alumni weekend was a break for Rowney in his short summer. Cup celebrations are behind him and he’s been back in Vernon training with NHL, AHL and pro hockey players.

“It’s beena a short summer, but I didn’t take much time off. I think I went back at it really hungry again with my situation. I’m excited for the next season...,” said Rowney.

“It’s a short summer, so there’s not that much time to build muscle or anything like that. It’s just kind of maintaining your body and doing a lot of preventive stuff. There’s obviously some strength, but a lot of it is preventive and trying to get your body back to 100% before the season starts.”

Rowney’s “situation” he speaks of is where he’ll start the 2017-18 season.

Last year he started with the Penguins’ AHL affiliate – Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. But, injuries with the NHL Pens led to Rowney being called up. He played in 27 regular season NHL games down the stretch and registered three goals and four assists.

Where Rowney made a name for himself was in the post-season. In addition to notching three assists, his effective two-way play earned him more playing time. When head coach Mike Sullivan was looking for a spark, Rowney was the go-to guy to jump over the boards.

Though he’s viewed as an ideal third or fourth line winger, Rowney’s play at training camp will determine where he starts the season. Because he’s still on a two-way contract, it’s entirely possible he starts the season back in the AHL where he’ll have to pay his dues once again.

This season marks the final year of his two-year, two-way contract.

“I think (earning the NHL roster spot) is still an every day thing. I’ve got to go to the rink every day and I don’t think you can get complacent at this level. I think if you don’t go into camp and play well and be at your best already, there’s a lot of good players in this world and a lot of people trying to take my (roster spot), so I think for me, it’s trying to stay hungry and always wanting more in my career and be better as a hockey player,” said Rowney, who heads back down to Pittsburgh in early September.

If indeed Rowney does crack the Pens, there’s no doubt the team will be hungry for a third consecutive Stanley Cup title.

“I have a pretty good understanding of how hard (winning) two (Stanley Cups) is, I don’t imagine what three must be like... I’d love to find out,” said captain Sidney Crosby, in a recent interview.

Rowney noted the Penguins are “a hungry group” and believes it’s entirely possible.

He said they proved last year they’re not phased by a Stanley Cup hangover.

“They just want to win. All of those players just want to win,” said Rowney.

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