Goalie Carl Stankowski was selected by the T-Birds in the second round, 37th overall, in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. He played in seven games during the regular season with a 3-0-0-1 record and had a 2.18 goals against average and 0.910 save percentage. The Calgary native started the playoffs for injured starter Rylan Toth. Carl played every minute of all 20 playoff games, as the T-Birds went on to win the WHL Championship. He finished the playoffs with a 16-2-2 record, a 2.50 goals against average and 0.911 save percentage. Carl has had quite a busy summer, but he took some time out of his day to talk with us.
Seattle Thunderbirds: Hey, Carl! We are so glad you could join us. How has your summer been?
Carl Stankowski: It has been good. I’ve been training a lot and getting ready for next season.
ST: What went through your head when you were told you would be starting Game 1 against Tri-City in the first round of the playoffs?
CS: When I saw my number on the board starting in the first game, it was pretty awesome. I was nervous but tried to stick to my same routine before the game.
ST: As the playoffs progressed when did you become aware Rylan might not be coming back for a while?
CS: After the first round, I wasn’t sure what the plan was and if Tother was coming back or not.
ST: Looking back on the Championship run, what are a few things that stick out in your mind?
CS: Looking back, I remember almost every game, but three things that stuck out to me the most were the overtime goal in Regina, taking the championship picture and seeing how pumped my family and friends were when we won!
ST: How was the overall atmosphere at the arenas different when the games went to overtime during the playoffs?
CS: You almost feel a nervous energy when it hits overtime. The fans get that much more into it and the teams are that much more focused.
ST: Flashback to game six of the WHL championship series and Alexander True’s game-winning goal in OT. How did you feel knowing that goal meant the T-Birds were now champs?
CS: I didn’t really realize what happened until a couple minutes after the game. Knowing that we brought the first championship to Seattle was one for the books.
ST: What was the toughest series for you as a goaltender during the playoffs?
CS: Every series had different challenges. There were different systems I had to learn and tendencies of teams I had to pick up on.
ST: How was your experience flying in chartered planes during the playoffs?
CS: Yeah, it was something I had never experienced before with going into a plane, picking your own seat and splitting it with the other team.
ST: When did you first get into hockey? Did you play other positions besides goalie growing up?
CS: The first time I put on skates at a little rink in Calgary was when I was 5 years old. I was a forward until I was 7 years old and instantly went to goalie after I had moved to California.
ST: What is the toughest aspect about being a goaltender?
CS: I think the mental game. You can’t let a tough goal get to you. You just have to let it go and move on.
ST: How do you attempt to stay calm during games, especially in high pressure situations, such as games in overtime or important playoff matchups?
CS: I think it’s more of my personality overall. I don’t really get rattled easily. I also have a couple quotes I remember that help me just focus on the puck.
ST: How was your overall experience at the Hockey Canada’s Summer Showcase?
CS: It was fun and educational. There were great goalies and coaches there that I can learn from.
ST: What did you take away from participating in the Under-18 goaltending camp at the Summer Showcase?
CS: At the camp, we focused on head trajectory, which is really helpful and can help evolve my game.
ST: Is there a particular NHL goaltender you follow or pattern your style of play after? If so, who?
CS: Yes, there are two. One is Juuse Saros because of how good he is at such a high level and he’s also the same height as me. The other is Eric Comrie. His skating ability and the way he sees the puck is something I aspire to.
ST: What is your biggest individual goal going into next season? What about team goal?
CS: My individual goal is to help the team win every single night. I also hope to get selected in the NHL Draft. The team goal for right now is make the playoffs and go from there.
ST: How is your mindset going into this season different from last year?
CS: My mindset next year is to be a starting goalie and give the team a chance to win each night.
ST: Are you doing anything fun before you head back to Seattle for Training Camp?
CS: Yes, I am going to the Ivan Helinka tryouts and will hopefully make the team.
ST: Thank you very much for time, Carl. We can’t wait to watch you this season!
CS: Thank you.
Seattle Thunderbirds Public & Media Relations Intern Kylie Magar conducted the Q&A with Carl Stankowski. The team will be posting Q&A’s during the off-season with returning T-Birds players.