WILMINGTON, Mass. -- On every level of John Carter's hockey career, people have told him he's just to small. After three brief stints with the Boston Bruins, however, the 5-foot-8, 175-pound left wing is proving he belongs.
Carter, 25, a standout in youth hockey, at Woburn (Mass.) High School, and at Rensselaer Polytech, was called up from the AHL's Maine Mariners Dec. 8 and has scored three goals in his last three games. For the struggling Bruins, who have managed only seven goals in those three games and 29 in their last 14 games, the speedy winger has been one of the season's few highlights.
'He has scored -- eventually -- in every league he's played in,' Bruins General Manager Harry Sinden said. 'Last year in his first 20 games, he had one goal, and he ended up scoring a ton.'
Carter scored 38 goals in 76 AHL games last season, but played in only four games for the Bruins. In the two previous seasons, he had played 11 games for Boston.
'Unless you're a first-round pick, everyone plans to spend a year or two in the minors,' said Carter, 'but it was frustrating. The first couple of years, every time I'd go up, I'd play on the fourth line.
'I can't score goals playing limited time on the checking line. I was never really given a chance to show what I can do.'
Unfortunately, that's been his history. After scoring 52 goals and collecting 23 assists in 20 games as a high school senior, Carter was not drafted by an NHL team and received only two college scholarship offers.
'I was surprised, and it really hurt for a while,' he said. 'But it really worked out for the better.'
At RPI, Carter blossomed. In his junior year, he scored 43 goals in 37 games as the Engineers went 35-2-1 and won the ECAC Division I championship.
After finishing college in 1986, there were only a few NHL teams interested in Carter, but Boston was one of them and he signed a three-year contract. His emergence as a scorer has been timely for the battered Bruins.
'He skates, forces the play quickly, and goes to the net hard,' Bruins Coach Terry O'Reilly said. 'He's got a nose for scoring goals.'
No stranger to Boston Garden, Carter had played there once in high school and twice while winning the ECAC championship with RPI. In the state high school quarterfinals in 1982, Carter's Woburn team lost in double-overtime to Acton-Boxborough. Bob Sweeney, now a Bruins teammate, scored the winning goal, and Tom Barrasso, currently with Pittsburgh, was the Acton-Boxborough goalie.
'This year I feel comfortable and I'm getting the ice time,' Carter said. 'And finally, I'm putting the puck in the net.'