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Childhood dream comes true for Carter George

The Thunder Bay netminder is at the Los Angeles Kings development camp after being picked by the club on Saturday.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – There will come a time when Carter George will have a chance to look back on everything that’s happened to him as of late.

It might not happen for a couple more weeks.

The 18-year-old Thunder Bay product, who is a goaltender for the Ontario Hockey League’s Owen Sound Attack, was picked by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the National Hockey League draft on Saturday in Las Vegas with the 57th overall choice.

Then he was off to El Segundo, Calif., for the team's development camp, which started Monday and wraps up Wednesday.

“There’s a lot going on at once and it hasn’t quite set in yet,” George said following a scrimmage on Tuesday night.

“You go from hearing your name called, to going down and taking pictures with the team and spending some time in the family lounge. Then all of a sudden, you’re on a plane to Los Angeles.

“It’s something that I still keep dreaming about at night and I try to keep reliving the moment.”

George, who was ranked second overall among North American netminders by NHL Central Scouting, was expected by many to be picked during the early rounds of the draft.

After Russians Ilya Nabokov and Mikhail Yegorov – the latter of whom roomed with George at the NHL draft combine in Buffalo in May – were chosen, he started to have a sense that his name might be called.

“I was looking up at the draft board and I was looking at the teams that I thought I might go to, and I got a little excited when I saw that L.A. was one of them,” George said.

“Sure enough, as soon as I heard ‘from Owen Sound,’ I got pretty excited. I stood up right away and heard my name being called. It was a pretty cool moment and one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

As a Thunder Bay Kings alumus, it was fitting that the NHL team with the same name ended up being George’s landing spot.

What made it even more special for him though was the fact that Los Angeles is the team that he’s been rooting for since he was a kid.

“When I was growing up, I was a big fan of Jeff Carter because he had the same name as I did,” George said. “Once he got traded to L.A. (in 2012) and they won a (Stanley) Cup, I was like, ‘Okay, I want to cheer for this team.’

“Then I kind of discovered Jonathan Quick and he was always making highlight reel saves and I was going, ‘Wow, this guy is awesome.’ Ever since then, I fell in love with the team and I follow them all the time.

“Once I kind of realized that there was a possibility that I could go here . . . I thought it would be pretty cool if that actually happened.”

After celebrating with his family and a sizable cheering section that came from Thunder Bay, along with getting a congratulatory text from Kings captain Anze Kopitar, George had to get ready to head to the team’s development camp.

However, there was one slight problem. His goalie equipment was at his family’s home in Barrie.

“My plan was to leave it there and then my agency was going to courier it out to wherever I got drafted,” George said. “Once I got picked, we called the people who were housesitting for us to bring my equipment to Purolator, but with the time change and everything, Purolator was closed so we weren’t able to get it there.

“When that happened, my agency’s job became finding out who else was coming to Kings camp from Ontario and thankfully (Guelph Storm forward) Leo Serlin was good enough to bring my equipment down for me.

“I can’t thank him enough for that one.”

With that crisis averted, George was able to show the Kings brass what he could do on the ice while also getting a taste of life in the NHL.

“The facility here is off the charts,” George said. “They have everything you need here and they are all there to help you get better.

“You get kind of an insight into what they are as an organization and what they expect out of you. They set the bar high and it shows with what the standards are and where you kind of need to be to get to that pro level.”

Once he returns to Barrie, George plans to stay away from the ice for a bit but will likely be in the gym right away.

“I’d love to take a nice break but I’ve got to get ready for next season,” George said.

“I have a couple of goals in mind with what I think I need to get better at and what I think I want to improve on in the off-season, but I’ll also have an exit meeting here with L.A. this week and they’ll have some ideas of things that I can get better at as well.”

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