The waiting is over for Brandon Carlo.
The former Tri-City Americans defenseman made the opening-day roster for the Boston Bruins after impressing the NHL team’s brass during training camp and the preseason.
“It has been crazy,” Carlo said in a phone interview Tuesday, following media day in Boston. “I found out yesterday that I will be on the roster, at least for the beginning. We will see how long I will be on it. I’m just really excited to be here. It’s a lot to wrap your head around. It’s nice to know the work has paid off in the summer and my goal to make the team paid off. It’s awesome.”
With injuries to Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid, Carlo, 19, and fellow rookie Rob O’Gara, 23, will be counted on to help on the back end. They join veteran defensemen Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Colin Miller, Joe Morrow and John-Michael Liles.
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Carlo, who was a second-round pick (37th overall) of the Bruins in the 2015 NHL draft, has been playing with the 6-9 Chara, while O’Gara has been paired with Krug.
“He is a pretty awesome guy,” Carlo said of Chara. “He has been with Boston a long time, and it’s pretty cool to sit on the bench next to him and take away his knowledge of the game. We cover up a lot of space, that’s for sure.
“I play with John-Michael Liles the first couple of games. He’s been in the league a while and has a lot of experience. Chara is a leader and assertive on the ice. He expresses communication. He likes to talk situations out. It’s been helpful to get their knowledge.”
The Bruins organization is excited to have a little youth on its side.
“Obviously with the way O’Gara and Carlo played in the preseason, and the way they’ve shown they can play and start the season, and with the injuries we have, it’s a little bit of luxury we weren’t expecting,” Bruins president Cam Neely told the Boston Globe. “I truly feel like we’ve got some good young players that are knocking on the door, or a couple of years away. And I think they’re going to make an impact on this club while our core is still in a position to play at the level they’re currently playing at.”
Carlo appreciates the compliment.
“It’s good they believe in us,” he said. “We had good camps, and we felt we had good situations to show ourselves. I’m pretty excited and ready.”
The Bruins open their season Thursday at the Columbus Blue Jackets. Carlo’s parents, Angie and Lenny, are waiting to see if their son will be in the lineup Thursday before they hop on a plane to Ohio.
“His goal was to make the big team, but if not, he wanted to be the first guy called up,” Angie Carlo said. “It’s just been amazing to see his dreams come true. We are so happy for him.”
Should Carlo stick with the Bruins through next weekend, Boston will host former Tri-City goalie Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 22.
“Boston and Montreal have always been a big rivalry,” Carlo said. “Carey Price is one of the best goalies in the league. That would be great if I am still here.”
Carlo and O’Gara have been roommates since camp started in August. O’Gara, a fifth-round pick of the Bruins in 2011, played college hockey at Yale and graduated with a business degree.
“It’s nice to have someone to communicate with on how camp is going,” Carlo said. “It’s been cool to experience this together.”
Life in a hotel is a bit different than living with billets, especially when it comes to laundry.
“We switched hotels partway through camp, and this one has a nice little laundry area,” Carlo said. “I’ve definitely been wearing things in my suitcase once or twice.”
Speaking of wardrobes, Carlo said, if he sticks around, he will have to step up his suit game.
“There are guys here who dress much better than me,” he said. “Some guys certainly have an expensive touch. I’m sure Chara can send me to the right place; it’s hard to find a suit to fit my long arms.”
Carlo, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo., played three seasons for the Americans, scoring 11 goals with 54 assists in 186 games.
He joined the Providence Bruins (AHL) for seven games at the end of last season, chipping in one assist and posting a plus-3 rating.
He also played for Team USA at the World Junior Championship in January. He had two goals and two assists in seven games as the United States brought home the bronze medal.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be picked for Team USA events, and everything for Boston,” Carlo said. “All of my dreams are coming true. I couldn’t be more blessed and thankful. Hockey brings so many memories and opportunities.”
Former Tri-City Americans in the NHL
Brandon Carlo, D, Boston Bruins (2013-16 with Tri-City)
Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens (2003-07)
Clayton Stoner, D, Anaheim Ducks (2002-05)