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McCarry, free-agent castaway, producing for Kamloops Blazers

“I had my mind set on playing in this league,” said McCarry, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound forward from Calgary. “It was never ‘You’re going back to play junior A.’ I still thought I could play in this league and I still have a lot to prove.”
2021 NOV 30 Nick McCarry FEAT
Nick McCarry is fourth in Kamloops Blazers' scoring, with 21 points in 19 games.

Nick McCarry was an overager in limbo, placed on waivers by the Medicine Hat Tigers and not certain to find a home in the Western Hockey League for the 2021-2022 campaign.

“I had my mind set on playing in this league,” said McCarry, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound forward from Calgary. “It was never ‘You’re going back to play junior A.’ I still thought I could play in this league and I still have a lot to prove.”

McCarry had believers in Blazers’ general manager and head coach Shaun Clouston, director of player personnel Robbie Sandland and assistant general manager Tim O’Donovan — and Kamloops had a 20-year-old roster spot to fill.

Clouston, who was head coach and GM of the Tigers when Medicine Hat signed McCarry in 2017, was looking for a complementary player who can play fast, which is a defining trait of this edition of the Blazers.

“There was no cost to it. There wasn’t a lot of risk. I anticipated him to be able to play and anticipated an improvement from last year’s numbers, but this would be exceeding that,” said Clouston, who listed McCarry in June.

McCarry turned heads in training camp, tallied nine points in five exhibition games and is producing in the regular season, with 21 points, including five goals, in 19 games.

“I was really motivated,” said McCarry, who recorded two goals and five points on the Blazers’ recent four-game tour of the U.S. Division, a clean sweep.

“It was an unbelievable opportunity that I got, playing with the great team I have. The guys are unbelievable."

McCarry hopped around during the 2018-2019 season, toiling for the Tigers in the WHL and for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in the Alberta Junior (A) Hockey League.

The left-shot forward racked up 23 points in 58 games playing full-time with the Tigers in 2019-2020 and had seven goals and 12 points in 20 games last season for Medicine Hat.

“I saw progression from 17 to 18 and 18 to 19,” Clouston said. “So I anticipated the progression to continue. The one thing he did do was he really filled out. At 16, he might have been the smallest player in the league.”

McCarry did not factor into the Tigers’ plans this season, with Medicine Hat opting to keep the overage trio of Corson Hopwo and Lukas Svejkovsky, both forwards, and defenceman Daniel Baker.

McCarry went from WHL castaway to fourth-leading scorer on a club that is 17-2 and likely to be among the top two in Canadian Hockey League rankings this week.

“I was just fortunate enough that Shaun gave me an opportunity to play my last year in the league for me to show what I can do,” McCarry said.

“I’m really excited about what this team can do. The sky is the limit.”